Thursday, November 12, 2015


In The New York Times today, Jonathan Martin looks at some of the GOP presidential candidates and plays Compare and Contrast:
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Mr. Trump are positioning themselves as the unapologetic champions of a brand of conservatism that is tailored to appeal to party activists: striking a hard line on immigration and trade, promoting sharply lower tax rates and enhancing military might while adding notes of caution about overextending American forces in foreign crises.

Jeb Bush and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, by contrast, are appealing to more pragmatic if hawkish Republicans: dismissing as unrealistic -- and even un-American -- the prospect of deporting illegal immigrants, promoting tax policies that do not add as much to the deficit and insisting on a central place for the United States in global affairs.
I've emphasized one part of this in particular because it fits a convenient stereotype of Bush and Kasich -- which, in this case, is utter malarkey. The conservative Tax Foundation has analyzed the budget plans of a number of Republican presidential candidates and found that, while Jeb's plan doesn't bust the budget quite as much as Trump's, it adds almost exactly as many trillions of dollars to the debt as Cruz's plan if you use static scoring, and adds more to the debt than Cruz's plan if analyzed dynamically:

The Tax Foundation hasn't analyzed Kasich's plan because, it says, the plan isn't sufficiently detailed, but Bob McIntyre of the liberal Citizens for Tax Justice says it's a budget-buster, too:
Presidential candidate John Kasich ... released a tax proposal that is in lock step with other Republican candidates’ plans. Most basic details are missing, but it is clear Kasich’s plan would lavish substantial tax breaks on the best-off Americans while blowing a huge hole in the federal budget....

The centerpiece of Kasich’s plan is a drastic cut in the personal and corporate income tax rates. For the richest Americans, Kasich would cut the top tax rate from 39.6 to 28 percent and slash the tax rate on capital gains to 15 percent. He would outright repeal the estate tax.

For corporations, Kasich proposes dropping the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and allowing companies to immediately write off their capital expenses. Kasich would also allow U.S. companies to avoid ever paying a dime on profits they shift offshore by moving to a “territorial” tax system.

The elements of Kasich’s blueprint are virtual carbon copies of plans put forth by Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. What sets Kasich apart is that he seems uninterested in closing tax loopholes to pay for his aggressive tax cuts. On the corporate side, he apparently doesn’t see a single corporate giveaway worth repealing. And although closing the "carried interest" loophole has gained bipartisan support, Kasich's proposal does not address this tax giveaway to wealthy money managers.

All of this means the revenue impact of Kasich’s plan would likely be just as devastating as the Trump and Bush plans, both of which would cost trillions over a decade. The only question is precisely how many trillions of dollars Kasich's plan would cost.
Oh, but we mustn't pay attention to any of that. We've decided that Bush and Kasich are sober-minded realists, unlike Cruz and Trump, and surely we don't want the facts to get in the way of a good narrative.

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