During the 2000 presidential debates, when surpluses stretched as far as the eye could see and the debt was finally being paid off, then-governor George Bush argued that we needed to cut taxes to reduce government revenue, so that the debt wouldn’t be paid down too quickly.
After the 2001 tax cuts guaranteed everlasting deficits (well, at least until 2010), the reasoning changed: tax cuts were now said to stimulate the economy; combined with accounting tricks, this allowed republicans to push through another batch of tax cuts in 2003.
Fast forward to 2010, when the cumulative effect of the 2001 and 2010 tax cuts has been trillions in lost revenue. The 2009 stimulus bill, which economists said needed to be about $1.5 trillion in spending, ended up being $787 billion, a significant amount of which was devoted to tax cuts that were expected to have no real effect on the economy but were required to get the vote of the senators from Maine. Republicans, who object to (read: filibuster) every spending bill on the grounds of not adding to the debt, want to increase that same debt by another $700 billion over the next decade to continue Bush’s tax cuts for the rich that are largely responsible for the current debt.
And they wonder why people don’t like politicians..
PS. To be clear, I’m in favor of tax cuts…when we’re running a surplus. Not when they create or add to a deficit.