CNN Re-Plays Zakaria's Fallacious 'Bush's Biggest Mistake'

Before another edition airs (1 PM EST) in a few hours of CNN's Fareed Zakaria: GPS (Global Public Square), CNN was so pleased with Zakaria's commentary from last Sunday that they re-ran it on Thursday afternoon to counter House Minority Leader John Boehner's advocacy of tax cuts to boost the economy. In the noon hour Thursday CNN re-played Zakaria's commentary from the top of his January 18 show, in which he denounced the tax cuts as “the single most significant bad decision George Bush made.” Though federal revenue from income taxes has soared faster than inflation, Zakaria, editor of Newsweek's international edition, blamed the tax cuts for the rising deficit:
But by far the lion's share of the surpluses went into the tax cuts. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of the Bush presidency. Rather than pay down the debt or save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all, so that all of us, particularly the high-income earners, could  indulge in a bit more consumption.
Federal revenue tops $2.6 trillion, yet Zakaria ludicrously complained: “And now, when times have gotten bad and when we sorely need those reserves, we're clean out of cash.”  

As for the tax cuts causing the deficit to rise, IRS figures posted by the Tax Foundation (table 4 in this July report with the latest numbers for 2006) show revenue from the income tax jumped from $748 billion in 2003 to $1.024 trillion in 2006 -- that's faster than inflation.

2003: $748                        
2004: $832
2005: $935
2006: $1,024

The income taxes paid by the top 5 percent of payers rose from $407 billion in 2003 to $616 billion in 2006.

2003: $407
2004: $475
2005: $558
2006: $616

The economic downturn now may well be reducing federal revenue, but clearly it has been rising spending, not tax cuts which did not reduce revenue, which have led to a higher deficit.

Back in October, Zakaria used his CNN show as platform to endorse Barack Obama. My October 21 NewsBusters item, “Newsweek/CNN's Fareed Zakaria Announces He's Voting for Obama,” recounted:
Not that it's any big surprise given his well-established liberal views and contempt for conservative policies, but in what is an unusually blatant abandonment of basic journalistic pretenses, CNN on Sunday -- and Newsweek in this week's issue -- provided time and space for Fareed Zakaria to outline why he will be voting for the "steady and reasoned" Barack Obama. Along the way, he denigrated Sarah Palin as "a rabble-rousing ultraconservative." At the end of his Sunday (October 19) CNN program, Fareed Zakaria: GPS, Zakaria told his viewers of his choice, concluding:

“John McCain represents the best of America's past, and Barack Obama the hope of the future -- the hope of a country that can make big changes and live out one of its greatest promises, of equal opportunities for all Americans, of every caste, creed and color. And America has always been a country that looks forward. So, I will be voting for Barack Obama on election day this year.”
From CNN's Newsroom at about 12:30 PM EST on Thursday, January 22:
TONY HARRIS: The President's $825 billion stimulus package is part spending plan, part tax cutting plan. Republicans are pushing harder for deeper tax cuts. Here's the House minority leader a short time ago.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: We want to sit down with the President and talk about our ideas, because it's clear that trying to get money back into the economy quickly to preserve jobs and create jobs has to be the goal. And fast-acting tax relief, we believe, is the best way to do that.

HARRIS: Well, some argue tax cuts won't get the job done. Here's CNN's Fareed Zakaria on his show, Fareed Zakaria GPS.
RE-PLAY OF ZAKARIA'S JANUARY 18 COMMENTARY: I think the single most significant bad decision George Bush made came early in his presidency. It was a decision widely applauded at the time, and with much bipartisan support. Remember the Bush tax cuts? Well, think about their effect on America.

In 2000, the Clinton administration had almost balanced the federal budget, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office was projecting that over the next 10 years the United States would have surpluses that would add up to $5.6 trillion -- yes, trillion. By the spring of 2002, two thirds of that projected surplus had evaporated, and the rest disappeared soon thereafter.

There were many reasons for this, out-of-control spending being one. But by far the lion's share of the surpluses went into the tax cuts. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of the Bush presidency. Rather than pay down the debt or save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all, so that all of us, particularly the high-income earners, could  indulge in a bit more consumption.

And now, when times have gotten bad and when we sorely need those reserves, we're clean out of cash. The federal budget deficit will likely range over the next few years between $1.2 and $1.8 trillion. That's trillion.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center