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Supporting a tax increase was bad for George H.W. Bush. But tax cuts may no longer work for the GOP.

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04.12.2018

As the nation mourns the death of former president George H.W. Bush, his 1989-to-1993 term is being recalled as a turning point in the history of the modern Republican Party.

Bush’s decision in 1990 to violate his 1988 campaign pledge of “no new taxes” infuriated the GOP base and sowed a lasting grass-roots distrust of the party establishment that fueled Newt Gingrich’s rise to power in the House and culminated, arguably, in Donald Trump’s 2016 insurrection.

Yet Bush may have lived just long enough to witness the moment at which tax cuts have finally reached the point of diminishing political returns for Republicans.

Bush’s reelection campaign crashed in 1992 after he decided to increase federal levies, but the careers of several dozen GOP members of Congress just ended in the November midterm elections, after they voted to slash taxes.

The voters’ verdict may reflect a sea change in public priorities with implications for the nation’s long-term fiscal predicament, which was badly exacerbated by the 10-year, $1.5 trillion revenue reduction approved by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2017.

Supply-side economics — roughly speaking, the idea that cuts to tax rates pay for themselves in increased long-term growth — became Republican orthodoxy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, partly because there was a superficial........

© Washington Post