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Protesters hold signs during the 2017 Tax Day march in Los Angeles. (Photo: Molly Adams/flickr/cc)

'A Cruel Joke' and 'Morally Repugnant': Critics Blast Trump's Tax Plan for the Rich

From eliminating the estate tax to lowering the corporate and top-tier rates, billionaire president just rolled out "plan only the superrich and giant corporations could love"

Andrea Germanos

While President Donald Trump on Wednesday asserted from a podium in Indianapolis that his tax plan was "more fair for everyday Americans," a chorus of voices quickly derided the new, detail-short proposal as "wealth-fare," a "cruel joke," a "plan that only the superrich and giant corporations could love," and like "Christmas morning for tax cheats."

The president's plan includes slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent; capping the individual rate—now 39.6 percent—at 35 percent; cutting the so-called "pass-through" rate by a third; and eliminating entirely the estate tax.

"This isn't tax reform; this is simply tax cuts for rich people."
—Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair, EPI

According to an analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness, the cuts do not even "come close to being paid for by closing tax loopholes, which will likely result in deep cuts now or next year to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and many other priorities working families depend on. These cuts were outlined in President Trump's FY2018 budget, which proposed $4.3 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, public education, and other non-defense programs; and in the House budget, which proposed $5.8 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and other non-defense programs and that is awaiting floor action."

In fact, explain Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair of the Economic Policy Institute, the focus on reducing the number of rate brackets is really just a smokescreen for more giveaways.

"Contradicting their claims to simplify the tax code, Republicans are adding loopholes," Bivens and Blair write. "Anybody who studies taxes knows that they are not complicated because of the rates—you look those up in a table after you’ve done the hard part of wrestling with deductions and exclusions. So making 7 rates into 3 [which the plan proposes] does nothing to deal with the complexity of the tax code. But adding further loopholes for the rich and big corporations does exacerbate the code's complexity and unfairness."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, summed up the plan like this:

Wyden also took to his Twitter account to say that the president "isn't telling the truth about his tax plan. So I am." Wyden fact-checked what he dubs the #TrumpTaxScam, saying "it is the biggest tax cut for the *wealthy*"; "raises taxes on many middle-class families"; "rewards companies that sends red, white, and blue jobs overseas;" and would ensure that "More people will have a net tax increase."

Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders also countered Trump's casting of the plan:

"The last thing we should be doing right now is providing hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country. It is particularly obscene to repeal the estate tax that would provide a $269 billion tax break to the top 0.2 percent. Instead of giving more tax breaks to billionaires who don't need it, we should be doing everything we can to rebuild the disappearing middle class," Sanders added in a statement.

According to watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), one reason why Trump has broken with precedent and failed to release his tax return is because "without them, there's no way to know how much his tax plan benefits him."

EPI's Bivens and Blair conclude that the proposal "delivers absolutely no surprises: this isn't tax reform; this is simply tax cuts for rich people."

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