Young: Here come the clowns with ‘tax reform’ balloons (column)
“The clownish veneer of Trumpism conceals its true danger,” writes David Remnick in The New Yorker. “Trump’s way of lying is not a joke; it is a strategy, a way of clouding our capacity to think, to live in a realm of truth.”
What’s it this week? We are asked to “reform” our tax system, with only guesses as to how the changes would benefit Donald Trump. His tax returns are tucked away, courtesy of yet another fluffy flake in a blizzard of lies. (Getting audited, you know.)
Much attention has accrued to Trump’s historically low approval ratings. But consider: One hundred days into his presidency, Gallup finds that only 36 percent of Americans believe their president to be “honest and trustworthy.”
(That same 36 percent, by the way, answered affirmatively to the question: “Yes or no. The creature named Sasquatch invented the incandescent light bulb.”)
When it comes to trust, however, we can all agree on one thing: We can trust Trump to do what’s best for Trump.
Whatever the actual details of Trump’s tax-paying, or lack of it, his tax proposal would benefit him beyond measure.
The alternative minimum tax was the principal feature in our tax code that got Citizen Trump in 2004 — the only year revealed — to pay some taxes. And, hmm, the alternative minimum tax would go away under Trump’s proposals.
That year he paid them at a rate of 25 percent. Without the alternative minimum tax, he would have paid at 4 percent.
“If that return is typical,” writes Ronald A. Kain in the Washington Post, “the Trump tax plan is an 86 percent tax cut for…Trump.”
But, of course, that return isn’t typical. That’s why Trump allowed it to “leak.”
He doesn’t want taxpayers to see the years when he paid no taxes at all. He doesn’t want Americans to know about his international (Russian?) business entanglements.
Speaking of business: Trump wants to more than halve federal corporate tax rates. (Benefiting whom? Good guess.)
It’s true that U.S. corporate tax rates are high compared with most western countries. However, when various loopholes are factored in, the General Accountability Office reports that about two-thirds of corporations already pay no federal tax. He wants to dramatically slash tax rates of high earners. Benefiting whom?
He wants to abolish the estate tax. Called the “death tax” by Republicans. Yes, a tax on “death” to skew the debate in the minds of the less wealthy.
The thing is, the estate tax applies to one-fifth of 1 percent of us, only affecting couples worth more than $11 million. And the first $5.45 million of an estate is exempt.
Trump wants us all to down this medicine with the sugar of doubling the standard deduction for middle-income earners. Few of us would reject this offer, except that in sum Trump’s proposal would cost the country’s coffers trillions of dollars.
Unless something cancels out the revenue lost, this proposal would cause the federal debt to balloon by $11 trillion in a decade.
And we’re to believe the old supply-side tax-cut fantasy that got us in a bottomless deficit hole — that the tax plan will “pay for itself.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says so. Yes, and Mexico will pay for Trump’s wall.
It all adds up to more debt and less elasticity for our government to govern. And to accomplish what? To fence off the Trumps, the DeVoses, the Koch brothers, and other inheritors of a nation’s great wealth in gated acres of green.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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