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Bushes: Father and Son

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FIve years ago, on The Huffington Post, I contrasted the Bush family's attitudes on taxes. George H.W. raised them and left the country with a treasury surplus. George W. cut the tax rate and left us with trillions of dollars in deficits. Bush Sr. was deprived of his second term as president, mostly because he had promised not to raise taxes and then realized the country needed to raise them to raise more money.

Here's what I wrote then:

Flash-forward to 1993, when President George H.W. Bush earned his place in "Profiles in Courage" by, despite his promise of -- "read my lips, no new taxes" -- he upped tax rates to 39.6% on all income over $250,000. By facing up to the deficit problem, he enraged conservatives, brought Ross Perot into the 1992 Presidential race, and lost reelection to Bill Clinton. But, it was his tax hike that permitted Clinton to bring the debt level under control, and in fact, show surpluses by the end of his term.

Thursday the Kennedy Library came to the same conclusion and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation selected Bush, Sr. to received a "Profiles in Courage Award."

FromThe Boston Globe:

"Bush is being honored for the courage he demonstrated when he agreed to budget compromise. This reneged on his 1988 campaign pledge to not raise taxes, and risked the Republican's reelection prospects... Bush negotiated with Democrats and agreed to a deal that included both spending cuts and tax increases..."

That conciliatory atmosphere no longer exists in Washington. Perhaps the award to Bush will remind both parties that compromise works. Of course, Bush Jr. ended that atmosphere, and the country is trillions of dollars in debt. Perhaps Bush Jr. has earned the title "Profile in Discourage."