Tax hikes don’t kill jobs

Update: Steve Benen has a brutal – and accurate – takedown of Boehner’s speech today. Benen’s conclusion: “We’re left with the discomforting fact that it appears the Speaker of the House, Congress’ most powerful official, when dealing with the nation’s most important issue, is functionally illiterate, bringing the sophistication of a slow child to the debate.” He’s absolutely right, but, still. Ouch.

In a speech delivered to Wall Street, House Speaker John Boehner reiterated an article of faith among conservative Republicans: Tax hikes kill jobs. In laying out his demands for agreeing to raise the debt limit and avert a global financial disaster – yes, Boehner is essentially holding the global economy for ransomBoehner said, “With the exception of tax hikes — which will destroy jobs — everything is on the table.”

As I said, this notion that tax cuts lead to job losses is an article of faith for conservative Republicans. It has to be an article of faith, because the facts simply don’t back it up.

In 1993, President Clinton raised taxes – without the help of a single Republican; they were all warning that the tax package Clinton wanted would lead to economic calamity (sound familiar?). Instead of economic calamity, we saw the longest peacetime expansion in history. Millions of jobs were created. The economy soared. And we had a balanced budget for the first time in recent memory – and the last time since.

President Bush cut taxes in 2001, promising economic nirvana. Instead, we saw the most sluggish economic growth in years. Middle class income stagnated. And by the time President Bush left office, there were only 3 million more jobs than when he took office, a number that didn’t even come close to keeping up with the population growth of 22 million in the same period.

Sure, there were other factors at work – just as there are now. The point is that, indisputably, tax hikes don’t necessarily lead to job losses and tax cuts do not necessarily lead to job growth.

Anyone telling you differently – Speaker Boehner, for instance – either has no clue or is intentionally trying to mislead you.

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