NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 24, 2004

Though some question the size of the Bush tax cuts as well as their timeliness, the record suggests that President Kennedy's tax cuts may have been even bolder.

There have been 19 significant federal tax cuts since the end of WWII. Three of them were passed under Bush -- the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Job Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002, and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003.

However, tax cuts proposed by President John F. Kennedy were also enacted in the Revenue Act of 1964. According to data from the Treasury Department, it appears this tax cut was larger than most current Bush critics realize:

  • Kennedy's tax cuts represented 1.9 percent of national income, making it the largest first-year tax-cut of the post-WW II era.
  • By comparison, none of Bush's tax cuts exceeds 1 percent of income -- only the sum of all three Bush tax cuts were bigger, reaching 2 percent of national income.
  • Kennedy's tax cuts represented 8.8 percent of the budget -- even if all three Bush's tax cuts were combined, they accounted for 8.1 percent of expenditures.

In addition, during Kennedy's time, 42.1 percent of government expenditures were on defense, largely due to the growing conflict in Vietnam. Conversely, current defense spending consumes only 17.1 percent of the budget -- 25 percentage points below the figure when Kennedy cut taxes.

Source: "The Bush Tax Plan: How Big is the Tax Cut," Tax Foundation, June 14, 2004.


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