Bill Kaplan: A Ryan-Trump Trojan Horse

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Last March, in Waukesha County, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out the GOP budget and tax agenda: repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cut domestic spending, boost military spending and pass “the lowest tax rates on businesses since the 1920s”. The age of mammon, when business tycoons were worshipped. Ryan and Trump found common ground – slash taxes for corporations and the super-rich (already low).

Trump’s team laid out a dishonest tax cut plan. Gary Cohn, director, White House Economic Council, said: “The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan”. And, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down deficits by a trillion dollars.” Lies, fairy dust and a Trojan Horse for the budget.

The tax cuts. The Washington Post opined that “Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself.” The current top federal income rate is 39.6 percent. Trump would cut it to 35 percent. This would reward singles making over $418,400 and married couples above $470,700! And, the Post said the “estate tax goes bye-bye. … (But the) only people who have to pay this tax are those passing on more than $5.49 million. (And, a married couple can inherit nearly $11 million without paying the tax)”. It gets worse.

Ryan and Trump have falsely claimed that the estate tax hurts small businesses and farmers. The Post reported that “only 5,500 estates will pay any tax at all in 2017 (out of about 3 million estates). And, of those 5,500 hit with the tax, only 80 (yes, you read that right) are farms or small businesses.” Moreover, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated than in 2016 only “70 estates in Wisconsin (paid) any federal estate tax.” There’s more.

The New York Times said: “Republicans want to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which is primarily paid by upper-income families with lots of deductions. This tax accounted for a vast majority of the income tax Mr. Trump paid in 2005, according to a leaked copy of his return.” Will Trump ever release his tax returns? What is he hiding?

Finally, the Trump tax plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. However, corporations already pay much lower rates because of tax breaks and loopholes; some corporations pay zero federal income taxes! Moreover, corporations should stop flying the pirate flag and hiding their earnings abroad. More nonsense.

Tax cuts will cost trillions. Despite Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s claims, tax cuts do not pay for themselves. William Niskanen, member of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, said: “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.” Mnuchin is full of fairy dust. But Ryan has a plan. Last week the GOP-led House passed a budget resolution cutting Medicaid by $1 trillion, turning Medicare into a voucher program, repealing the ACA, boosting military spending, while setting up the process for tax cuts. A Ryan-Trump Trojan Horse.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

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