Some points which are being ignored: How crazy are the crazy tax plans John Kasich assailed as "crazy?"
The craziness of these crazy tax plans is being widely ignored. Debate moderators keep averting their gaze as they hurry past in embarrassment. Liberal pundits have barely noticed.
How crazy are the crazy tax plans? Consider a factoid from Josh Barro in today's New York Times.
To encounter this startling factoid, readers had to go all the way to the end of a 2700-word report by a collection of reporters. If they made it to the end, they would have encountered this, about Tuesday night's debate:
BARRO (11/12/15): The candidates debated two main questions about taxes: Should they be lower than they are now, or should they be way lower? And should there be fewer tax rates, or just one single rate for everyone, rich and poor?Crazy, ain't it? Candidate Trump's crazy proposal would eliminate a quarter of federal revenue over its first ten years.
On the first question, one might say the proposed tax cuts range from huge to yooooooge. Mr. Trump’s tax cut would appear to cost about $11 trillion—a quarter of expected government revenue—over a decade. Mr. Kasich said that was too much because a tax cut that big “will put our kids way deeper in the hole than they have been.”
Also crazy is this:
Two debates have occurred since this crazy plan was released. Neither CNBC nor the Fox Business Network made any real attempt to question Trump about the manifest craziness of his crazy proposal.
As he continued today's brief sub-report, Barro did something we've been waiting to see. He put the size of these crazy tax plans into another context—a basic context which might ring some bells for the average citizen:
BARRO (continuing directly): But even Mr. Kasich, despite his relative restraint, is proposing to cut taxes more deeply than President George W. Bush did and Mitt Romney promised to in 2012. He would lower the top personal income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent, the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8 percent to 15 percent and the top corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent—an approach that would greatly increase the deficit, if not as greatly as Mr. Trump’s ideas would.George W. Bush's iconic tax cuts have long been thought of as very large. Candidate Trump's tax cuts are massively larger. Even Candidate Kasich's cuts are larger, Barro says.
The press corps is largely avoiding/ignoring the craziness of these plans. Our liberal pundits are following suit. A cynic would say that this conduct has the look of plutocrat bias, defined as the inability to become aroused by massive redistribution in an upward direction.
That said, we'll leave you with one more possibility to ponder. It involves the crazy proposal of Candidate Carson, which still hasn't been spelled out.
Might Carson actually increase federal taxes for those with lower incomes? Back in September, Richard Phillips speculated about that possibility in a post for Citizens for Tax Justice.
Some of what follows is now outmoded. Still, this passage establishes a possible problem—a problem our debate moderators, and our liberal pundits, have politely been passing over:
PHILLIPS (9/1/15): Without specific details, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) Director Bob McIntyre made a generous estimate of how much Carson’s 10 percent flat tax could reasonably raise by simply multiplying total federal adjusted gross income estimated for 2016 ($11.25 trillion) by 0.10. This would yield tax revenues of only $1.1 trillion. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that the federal government will raise an estimated $3.5 trillion and spend $4 trillion in 2016.Is it possible that Candidate Carson's Biblical plan would actually increase federal taxes for lower- or middle-income people? Our journalistic elites don't seem to care.
Carson is sticking to his guns, stating that he has talked to economists who said with enough loophole closing a workable tax rate would be “somewhere between 10 and 15 percent.” However, our calculation demonstrates that even with every deduction eliminated, Carson’s 10-percent flat tax would increase the deficit by $3 trillion in just one year.
Even if Carson increased the rate of his flat tax, it would still be bad policy for the nation. Flat taxes plans are generally regressive. A CTJ analysis of one revenue-neutral flat tax plan found that it would raise taxes on the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers by an average of $2,887, while cutting them by an average of $209,562 for the richest one percent of taxpayers each year.
In Tuesday night's debate, Carson said that his eventual plan would include "a rebate for people at the poverty level." This makes it sound like he's planning to do without the standard deduction. Wouldn't a plan like that raise federal taxes for many low- and middle-income people?
None of these questions seem to matter to our debate moderators, our major journalists, or our liberal thought leaders. Even after Candidate Kasich denounced the Trump/Carson plans as "crazy," debate moderators kept hurrying past, politely averting their gaze from the lunacy of these proposals. Liberal pundits have been extremely slow to notice.
That said, will Candidate Carson ever present a plan? No one seems to care about that either! As we noted yesterday, this absurd exchange occurred at the CNBC debate, in the few minutes the moderators devoted to these crazy plans:
QUICK (10/28/15) [A 15 percent single-rate tax] still leaves you with a $1.1 trillion hole [presumably, in the annual federal budget].On its face, that's a crazy presentation by Carson. It ended with Carson saying it will all make sense "when we put all the facts down."
CARSON: You also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes. You also have to do some strategic cutting in several places. Remember, we have 645 federal agencies and sub-agencies. Anybody who tells me that we need every penny and every one of those is in a fantasy world.
So, also, we can stimulate the economy. That's gonna be the real growth engine, stimulating the economy. Because it's tethered down right now with so many regulations.
QUICK: You'd have to cut— You'd have to cut government by about 40 percent to make it work with a $1.1 trillion hole.
CARSON: It's not true.
QUICK: That is true, I looked at the numbers.
CARSON: When— When we put all the facts down, you'll be able to see that it's not true, it works out very well.
QUICK: Dr. Carson, thank you.
An actual journalist would have asked an obvious question. She would have asked Carson when he actually plans or expects to "put all your freaking facts down."
Quick may have been gripped by a touch of the 24-hour plutocrat bias. Instead of asking that obvious question, she simply thanked Carson instead. Twelve days later, Carson got a softball-sized pass on this manifest nonsense at the Fox Business Network debate.
These tax plans are off-the-wall crazy. But they're getting a pass from our Potemkin debate moderators, and from our career liberal world.
Candidate Carson just keeps on smiling. Our scribes, including our liberal scribes, just keep averting their gaze.
(What should we do about fantasy football? Major stars ask such questions instead.)