CBS: GOP Tax Plans Benefit Wealthy, ‘Blow a Hole in the Deficit’

Friday’s CBS This Morning relied on slanted liberal analysis from the supposedly “nonpartisan” Tax Policy Center to bash the tax plans of Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz while defending Hillary Clinton’s proposal as simply maintaining the “status quo.”

International Business Times editor Lauren Lyons Cole provided the breakdown for each candidate based on the tax group’s numbers. While she acknowledged that the middle class would “see about $300 a month, about $150 per paycheck increase” under the Trump plan, she quickly fretted: “...with Trump, of course it’s going to benefit the wealthy the most. So as you go up, your paycheck would increase drastically. Which would benefit him as well, I guess.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell teed her up: “And to be clear though, before we move on though, most of the tax analysis shows, though, that his plan would also blow a hole in the deficit, right?” Cole declared: “That’s a very big point. So under his proposal we would end up with $9.5 trillion federal deficit over the next decade, which is just drastically different than anything we’ve seen before.”

Moments later, Cole similarly ripped into Cruz’s plan: “He’s not the first one to propose a flat tax....But this plan would benefit the wealthy significantly more, even more so than Trump’s. And people in the middle class would feel, you know, maybe 50 bucks in their paycheck, but not a huge difference under his flat tax proposal.”

Again, O’Donnell prompted her to hammer the policy further: “And how would Cruz's plan impact the deficit?” Cole warned: “That would lead to an $8.6 trillion estimated deficit over the next decade. So it's still a very significant deficit. In both cases it would require a lot of cutting to the budget, to the federal budget.”

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With Bernie Sanders unlikely to win the Democratic nomination, O’Donnell felt comfortable attacking his plan as well: “And we should point out it’s not just the Republicans who are adding to the deficit, Bernie Sanders plan would add a lot to the deficit.” Cole replied: “Well, so his is actually the reverse. His would raise so much tax revenue it's actually more extreme than Donald Trump's proposal to cut taxes. Bernie Sanders would be raising taxes regardless of your income.”

However, Cole did suggest taxpayers would get something for their money: “...and for that you’d get health care. So it's a tradeoff and it’s about understanding what’s best for your situation.”

While sounding the alarm about taxes under Trump, Cruz, and even Sanders, Cole saw no problems with Clinton’s plan:

Hillary Clinton is very status quo. Her plan is very similar to what we have under President Obama. So if you’ve recently done your taxes, you could expect about the same, maybe a few dollars moving here or there, unless you earn over a million dollars or over $5 million dollars. And she wants to add a surtax to those people to raise a little bit of revenue for programs.

A March 4 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal completely dispelled the myth of the Tax Policy Center being “nonpartisan”:

Yet the tax-policy analyses that receive the most media attention in the electoral cycle – those of the Tax Policy Center (TPC), a joint effort of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution – don’t take into account the interplay between policy and the macro economy. These two Democratic-aligned think tanks disapprove of tax cuts, and their recent evaluations of some Republican plans inflate the static costs of tax reform while ignoring the dynamic impact of tax reform on growth, and thus ultimately on government revenues as well.

Economists Marc Sumerlin and Noah Williams concluded: “The TPC in reality aims at securing enough revenue to allow the government to grow at its preferred pace....the analysis merely advances arguments for maintaining or enlarging government spending, bolstered by an outmoded modeling framework.”

Here is a full transcript of the March 18 segment:

8:12 AM ET

HILLARY CLINTON: The biggest issue in this campaign is going to be the economy.

TED CRUZ: We’re going to adopt a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. And that is going to bring back booming economic growth.

BERNIE SANDERS: We’re going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent.

DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to make our country rich again. We’re going to make our country great again. And we need the rich in order to make the great, I'm sorry to tell you.

JOHN DICKERSON: Candidates agree the economy is a top issue on the campaign trail, but how will their promises impact your wallet? In the International Business Times, personal finance editor Lauren Lyons Cole writes, quote, “Choosing which presidential candidate to support can have a lasting impact on the American economy as well as your future paycheck.” She looked into the tax plans of the leading candidates using research from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and she broke down how much each candidate's plan would affect your taxes. Lauren Lyons Cole is here with us. Good morning, Lauren.  

LAUREN LYONS COLE: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cash & Check Marks; How Candidates’ Tax Plans May Impact Your Wallet]

DICKERSON: So how did you figure out how this would impact, how each plan would impact people?

COLE: Well, the Tax Policy Center really did that heavy-hitting work, they looked at all of the different plans and analyzed how your paycheck would change based on your annual income. So we just pulled that data in, put it into a calculator so that you can really see how your paycheck would potentially change depending on who gets elected.

NORAH O’DONNELL: So let's start with Donald Trump. How would his tax plan impact those making less than $55,000 a year?

COLE: So, to his credit, Donald Trump proposes to increase everyone's paycheck. So if you're making less than – or let’s say you are making $55,000 a year, you're going to see about $300 a month, about $150 per paycheck increase under a Donald Trump presidency, if, that is, he’s able to get his tax plan through Congress, which may prove difficult.

O’DONNELL: And what about those on the higher end of the pay scale?

COLE: So with Trump, of course it’s going to benefit the wealthy the most. So as you go up, your paycheck would increase drastically. Which would benefit him as well, I guess.  

O’DONNELL: And to be clear though, before we move on though, most of the tax analysis shows though that his plan would also blow a hole in the deficit, right?

COLE: That’s a very big point. So under his proposal we would end up with $9.5 trillion federal deficit over the next decade, which is just drastically different than anything we’ve seen before.

O’DONNELL: That’s a huge – yeah, adds a lot to the deficit, okay.  

GAYLE KING: Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. Where does she stand in terms of a tax plan? Number one, what is the average salary in this country?

COLE: So the median salary is $54,000 in America.

KING: Okay.

COLE: Yeah, and getting to about $250,000 is where you’re really in the top one percent.

KING: Alright, so let's go to Hillary Clinton.

COLE: Hillary Clinton is very status quo. Her plan is very similar to what we have under President Obama. So if you’ve recently done your taxes, you could expect about the same, maybe a few dollars moving here or there, unless you earn over a million dollars or over $5 million dollars. And she wants to add a surtax to those people to raise a little bit of revenue for programs.

DICKERSON: And now what about Ted Cruz? He’s got a flat tax.

COLE: Right, so his is the most creative. He’s not the first one to propose a flat tax, but he certainly wants to simplify our 75,000-page tax code that we have. But this plan would benefit the wealthy significantly more, even more so than Trump’s. And people in the middle class would feel, you know, maybe 50 bucks in their paycheck, but not a huge difference under his flat tax proposal.

O’DONNELL: And how would Cruz's plan impact the deficit?

COLE: That would lead to an $8.6 trillion estimated deficit over the next decade. So it's still a very significant deficit. In both cases it would require a lot of cutting to the budget, to the federal budget.  

O’DONNELL: And we should point out it’s not just the Republicans who are adding to the deficit, Bernie Sanders plan would add a lot to the deficit.

COLE: Well, so his is actually the reverse. His would raise so much tax revenue it's actually more extreme than Donald Trump's proposal to cut taxes. Bernie Sanders would be raising taxes regardless of your income.

KING: Even if you're making twenty-something thousand, he would still raise your taxes?

COLE: Not a lot, you know, it would be maybe ten dollars, and for that you’d get health care. So it's a tradeoff and it’s about understanding what’s best for your situation.

KING: So what income bracket do most people in this country fall into and who is the best candidate for most people in the country?

COLE: So for most people, they’re paying – taxes get complicated, but we’re paying about 15% of our paychecks in federal taxes. That’s not including state or city. And for most people, Donald Trump is going to put the most money back into your paycheck. Unless you really need health care, then Bernie Sanders is going to do a lot for you. Hillary Clinton’s not going to change anything. So if you like the way things are, she’d be a good choice.

KING: Alright.

O’DONNELL: Lauren Lyons Cole, really interesting.

KING: Something else to think about as you head to the polls.

O’DONNELL: Yeah, no, I like breaking that down just in time for...

KING: It’s good information.

O’DONNELL: ...as tax time is – we’re all sending our paperwork and figuring out how much we owe. Right, Gayle?

KING: Yeah.

DICKERSON: Or not, as the case may be.  

KING: I’m just trying to hold even.

O’DONNELL: I know, hold even.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC