George W. Bush: Stop Calling Them "Bush Tax Cuts"

Former President George W. Bush at the 2010 MLB Playoffs between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers on Oct. 15, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Stephen Dunn

George W. Bush suggested in a radio interview on Monday that the debate over extending tax cuts in Washington might be made easier by using a phrase other than "Bush tax cuts."

In the interview, conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen said that three of the most used words in politics in the last few months have been "Bush tax cuts." That's because of the debate raging over whether and how to extend the cuts, which were established in 2001 and 2003 and are set to expire at the end of this year.

Republicans have called for all the cuts to be extended, while President Obama has pushed for them to be extended for income levels below $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Under a compromise agreement worked out between the president and Congressional Republicans, the cuts would be extended for all for two more years.

"It's everywhere right now with this debate going on," Hennen said, speaking of the phrase "Bush tax cuts."

Despite widespread opposition among Democrats to extending the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners, Hennen then added: "Right now [there is] recognition of members of Congress of both sides that we need to keep your tax policy in place. Does that feel like a vindication?"

"Well, I wish they woulda called it something other than the Bush tax cuts," Mr. Bush responded. "There'd probably be less angst amongst some to pass it."

The former president went on to argue that lower taxes are good policy.

"I do believe it's very important to send the signal to our entrepreneurs and our families that the government trusts them to spend their own money," he said. "And I happen to believe lower taxes is what stimulates economic growth and what we need now in our country is economic growth."

Mr. Bush has been on the road promoting his memoir "Decision Points" in recent weeks, sitting for dozens of interviews and book signings, including with Facebook and Oprah Winfrey. A portion of the book focuses on the financial crisis of 2008 and how the Bush administration's decision to throw its weight behind the bank bailout despite misgivings.

Unlike his former vice president, Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush has declined to offer criticism of Mr. Obama, whose administration agreed to extend all the tax cuts for two years as part of a deal that also extends unemployment insurance for 13 months, cuts the payroll tax for one year and sets the estate tax at a relatively high threshold, among other provisions. The deal is likely to get through the Senate but faces strong opposition from many House Democrats as well as skepticism from some House Republicans.

Former President Bill Clinton, who has been less shy about weighing in on policy than Mr. Bush, called for Congress to pass the cuts last week.

  • Mary Dooe

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