CBO: Bush Tax Cuts Responsible For Almost A Third Of Deficit In Last 10 Years

May 13, 2011 8:02 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

One of the most maddening elements of the current political environment is that Republicans publicly obsess over deficit reduction while simultaneously supporting policies that are driving up deficits. Late last year, Republican leaders forced through an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income earners, even though the previous administration's signature economic policy had proven to be an expensive failure.

Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office dealt another blow to Republicans clinging to the notion that the Bush tax cuts did not help fuel the surge in deficits over the past decade. In a new report, CBO estimates a cumulative deficit of $6.2 trillion from 2002-2011; with a price tag of $2.02 trillion, the Bush tax cuts, including last year's extension, are responsible for almost one-third of the shortfall.

The Bush tax cuts cost about four times more than President Obama's oft-demonized Recovery Act, according to the report. Still, the CBO numbers are unlikely to sway congressional Republicans, who are seeking additional tax cuts for the wealthy in the current budget debate.