Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Politico reports that Donald Trump is revising his economic plan. Given how many times we've been told that Trump is an "economic populist," I was curious to learn which experts he's asked to help him do the revising. Piven and Cloward? Thomas Piketty and Naomi Klein?

Um, no. These guys:
... the campaign last month contacted at least two prominent conservative economists -- Larry Kudlow, the CNBC television host, and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and a longtime Wall Street Journal writer -- to spearhead an effort to update the package....

Kudlow and Moore are well known voices in conservative economic circles. They are two of the founders, with economist and former Ronald Reagan adviser Art Laffer and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, established last year to advance for conservative economic policies.
Oh. Well then.
Trump’s initial plan has come under criticism from both the right and left for vastly expanding the deficit, with the nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimating it would add $10 trillion to the federal deficit in the next decade.
So now it won't blow a hole in the deficit?
While Kudlow cast the changes he and Moore are recommending as “tweaking,” what he described would have an enormous financial impact. Kudlow said they had already resubmitted their revisions to the Tax Foundation, which he said was now preliminarily estimating that the package would expand the deficit by $3.8 trillion....
Oh, only $3.8 trillion. Chump change!

Kudlow and Moore are actually proposing to raise Trump's highest tax rate for the rich from 25% to 28% -- which is still a huge cut relative to the current top rate of 39.6% -- but, in addition to that, there's this fat-cat-friendly proposal:
Not every change Kudlow and Moore are drafting would result in more revenue. Kudlow said they were also suggesting that Trump keep the capital gains tax rate at 15 percent across all income levels; Trump’s original plan had that rate at 20 percent for those earning more than $150,000.
And this one:
He also said they would recommend letting corporations use “immediate expensing of equipment” for tax purposes to spur investment and economic growth. This has become a top priority for many Republicans, though it wasn’t in Trump’s original plan.
Trump was going to exempt every married couple making $50,000 or less and every single person making $25,000 or less from paying federal tax. Kudlow and Moore plan to exempt ... um, fewer low-earning people. They're not sure how many. But because this is a Trump plan, I'm sure the lucky folks at the bottom will still get to send the IRS a form that says, "I win!" (No, I'm not making that up -- it's right there in the Politico story.)

Oh, and as for benefit cuts?
Trump has been far more reticent than most Republicans to make changes to Social Security and Medicare....

But Kudlow suggested there was more spending cut details on the horizon, as well.

“There would also be a spending reduction piece as part of this overall package, which, frankly, would probably slice another $2 trillion” off the federal deficit, he said.
What's going to happen, I predict, is that the number of people exempted from income tax will be approximately the same as under the present tax code. As for benefit cuts, I'm guessing they'll be severe -- but we'll never get specifics. Recall 2012, when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised to protect Medicare and Social Security for people over 55, pledged a defense budget increase, and said they'd limit federal spending to 20% of GDP. They never specified what cuts they'd make to pull this off, but the implications were obvious, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
If Social Security and Medicare are spared from cuts, then to get federal spending under 20 percent of GDP while holding defense spending at 4 percent of GDP, "all other programs -- including Medicaid, veterans' benefits, education, environmental protection, transportation, and SSI -- would have to be cut by an average of 40 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2022."
But Romney and Ryan never proposed specific cuts to these programs, so every time a Democrat or liberal critic said "Romney and Ryan are going to cut X percent from education!" they'd insist that wasn't true, even though the cuts had to come from somewhere, or, more accurately, everywhere.

That's what the Trump-Kudlow-Moore economic plan will be like (assuming Trump agrees to Kudlow and Moore's suggestions) -- no specificity, inevitable huge cuts to domestic programs, and Trump angrily insisting that none of that is true and he won't cut anything important.

And even if that's true, even if the plan looks just like every other GOP plan, the press will still call Trump an economic populist.


Victor said...

SCSDD - Same Conservative Shit Different Day!

They just know, that one of these days, these same idiotic conservative economic plans will result in unicorns trickling down with pots od gold!

In the meantime - and I mean, MEAN time - the only thing that trickles down, are the pee and poop of the rich.

Ernest Lamonica said...

I imagine Krugman, Stiglitz and Piketty needed subject matter for their next Columns, blogs and books. Well these Buffoon just gave them a LOT of material to work with.

AllieG said...

In mediaspeak "populist" means "has fans among the white male craftspeople who service my second home."

KenRight said...

Well, the one advantage. If Trump is elected and doesn't follow through with protectionism and the host of other Big Government left wing programs Mark Levin and Glen Beck are attacking him for, the left is so much more likely to justifiably hit the streets in protest than it would be under Clinton. Obama's betrayal of his base on so many issues and the left's acquiescence compared with Bush protest proves that.