Commentary: It's time to end the tax holiday

About 12 years ago, President George W. Bush was handed a thriving economy with a budget surplus in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year, forecast over the ensuing decade.

The national debt stood at about $5 trillion. He had a choice to make. He could use the surpluses to wipe out the national debt over the next 10 years. Or, to use his own words, he could give the surplus money back to the taxpayers. It was their money, and it was only right to return it to them.

And because the rich supposedly paid disproportionately more in income taxes, it was only right to skew the tax cuts disproportionately toward them. It was also suggested that these tax cuts would give us a booming economy and create millions of jobs.

Repaying the national debt, this much-ballyhooed sin of leaving a huge financial burden on our children and grandchildren, the rallying cry of the phonies in the Tea Party, was cursorily dismissed. A tax holiday, skewed toward the rich, took precedence over repaying the national debt.

Under the rules existing in Congress at that time — rules agreed to by both parties — it was not possible to pass this tax cut legislation on a permanent basis. Through deft and dirty parliamentary maneuvers, it was pushed through as a sort of "tax holiday" to last 10 years.

This tax holiday was primarily meant to return the budget surplus to taxpayers. It was not intended to create further deficits.

What actually followed were eight years of an arrogant philosophy enunciated by then-Vice President Dick Cheney: "Deficits do not matter."

Two unfunded wars, and an unfunded expansion of Medicare, added drastically to the deficits.

At the end of Bush's second term, the national debt had doubled to more than $10 trillion, and the annual deficit during his last year was more than $1 trillion.

Upon expiration of the 10-year, ill-advised tax holiday, which did not produce any of the promised jobs, the Republicans in Congress blackmailed the Obama administration into extending it for two more years while hypocritically decrying the deficits created by it.

It is time to set the record straight. This tax holiday for the rich, which was nothing short of plundering the national treasury, has to be stopped. It has not and will not create jobs in a market that sorely lacks demand. There is no surplus to be given back to the taxpayers.

There surely are millions of patriotic Republicans who hopefully will refuse to aid and abet in this deliberate destruction of our country. Take back your party from these obstructionist thugs who do not represent you or your values and let us work together for the common good.

Compromise should not be a four-letter word.

JAMSHED DASTUR lives in Newport Beach.

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