George W. Bush, the man behind the tax breaks now sparking debate from President Obama and his likely challenger, Mitt Romney, just wishes that the policies didn’t bear his name.
“I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts,” he said, chuckling, during a speech at the New York Historical Society. “If they were called someone else’s tax cuts, they’d be less likely to be raised.”
But with Bush’s moniker firmly attached, the policies are turning out to be a key election talking point.
Obama wants to scrap them and raise taxes on the wealthy. On Tuesday, the president plans to give a speech in Florida praising the "Buffett Rule" -- a policy inspired by billionaire investor Warren Buffett that would impose a minimum effective tax rate of at least 30% on millionaires.
Romney’s camp wants the tax breaks to remain in place.
The tax breaks, implemented early on in Bush’s presidency in 2001 and 2003, were pegged by his administration and other Republicans as a mechanism for job creation. The logic is that upper-income taxpayers are also often employers and that funds that would otherwise become government tax revenue could be used to boost economic growth.