Obama has invested so much time demonizing the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that he has obscured the true narrative of his presidency. Class-war rhetoric aside, Obama is one of the most prolific tax cutters in recent history, with a record that puts him squarely alongside that of George W. Bush.
Crunching the numbers at the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, analyst Michael Linden found that if one compares the cost of tax cuts in just the first four years of Bush’s term (2001–04) to the first four years of Obama's (2009–12), Obama’s tax cuts are bigger. The value of the Bush tax cuts were about $475 billion in those first four years, or about 1.1 percent of GDP. Obama’s total about $1 trillion, or 1.6 percent of GDP.
Obama has cut taxes to lower levels than Bush did, says Linden. This is because, of course, Obama thus far has extended all of the Bush tax cuts and then cut taxes on top of that. His original stimulus bill in 2009 had $290 billion in Making Work Pay tax cuts. His speech Thursday night before Congress advocated for another $175 billion in payroll tax cuts, which come on top of $110 billion from last December’s budget deal. Speeded-up expensing for business adds another $10 billion or so.
All in all, Obama is responsible for many billions in tax cuts, yet the popular perception is that he has raised taxes.
Because he has sat silently by while allowing Republicans to call him whatever they want. But of course he can't fight back, that would be unseemly and not in the spirit of Washington comity.
The logical response to this is that obviously tax cuts don't work as economic stimulus and it's time to stop doing it. But that would require courage.