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January 17, 2004
WHY GEORGE BUSH WILL (PROBABLY) BE RE-ELECTED: The tax cuts. I'm the luckiest of all men, as my wife does our taxes. That makes sense -- mine are easy, and she's the one who runs her own business. This has the added side effect of removing any pressure for me to make more money, since if I do it just makes her job harder. . . .
But she just did a preliminary run-through of our taxes and it looks like the Bush tax cut is going to save us a lot of money. (Well, a lot by law professor standards, anyway.) "I love George Bush!" she exclaimed. Such expressions of enthusiasm for political figures on her part are uncharacteristic, to say the least.
If very many people are experiencing this phenomenon, it's likely to prove quite the shot in the arm for the Bush presidency. I don't know if they are, as I didn't expect the tax cuts to help us very much. My experience has always been that when "massive tax cuts" are discussed by pundits, they're always tax cuts for someone else. But it'll be interesting to see whether a lot of people feel this way. If so, this is a source of Bush strength going into the election season that people haven't paid enough attention to.
On the other hand, John Cole points to a major Bush weakness that people haven't given enough attention, either.
UPDATE: Mark Kleiman sneers. But hey, I'll just consider this a much-delayed version of that middle-class tax cut that Bill Clinton promised!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. It seems as if the InstaWife's general theory of taxation -- that the government will take as much as it can get away with in order to buy votes from special interests -- is also shared by Milton Friedman. ("Raise taxes by enough to eliminate the existing deficit and spending will go up to restore the tolerable deficit. Tax cuts may initially raise the deficit above the politically tolerable deficit, but their longer term effect will be to restrain spending.") I always knew she was Nobel material.