The White House has promised a “massive” tax overhaul, and the proposal pushes for the elimination of certain deductions and taxes, a sharp decrease in corporate taxes, and a simplified tax code for all. In reality, the “plan” was just a one-page memo that left many observers frustratingly puzzled as to how it might play out in real life—or if it even had the slightest chance of ever becoming reality.
Even so, there has been an uproar from critics based on what we do know about the plan. Here are some of the harshest takedowns:
‘Every Bad Idea, in One Place’
That’s the assessment of Trump’s tax plan by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik. The new plan relies on the theory that tax cuts for the rich will pay for themselves because of the trickle-down effect boosting greater economic growth as a whole—an idea dubbed as “Voodoo economics on steroids” by Democratic leaders. Hiltzik argues that even many conservative economists don’t believe in this concept, which has been “debunked in theory and by reality.”
Hiltzik’s overarching take is that Trump’s tax plan amounts to “a handout to the rich.” Take, for example, provisions like getting rid of the estate tax, which only benefits multimillionaire estates with a net worth of $5.49 million per individual or $10.9 million per couple.
‘A Laughable Stunt’
“By any historical standard,” a scathing New York Times editorial states, Trump’s tax plan is “a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.”
‘A Plutocrat’s Dream’
John Cassidy of The New Yorker had a similar reaction to Trump’s tax plan, noting that it’s “tempting to dismiss the whole thing as a publicity stunt.” But even if the one-page document is basically a gimmick, or merely an opening gambit to kick off negotiations, critics stress that it is inevitable that the ultra-wealthy—including Trump and many members of his administration—would be the prime beneficiaries of the proposed tax cuts.
“In all likelihood, wages and productivity would be largely unaffected by Trump’s tax cuts,” Cassidy wrote. “Since the giveaways would be concentrated on the very rich, measures of post-tax inequality would rise.”
‘Just Bullet Points’
Virtually every analysis of the tax plan—including many voicing support for it—notes that it is severely lacking in detail. An Associated Press story published by Fox Business among others noted that the plan could be “good news for many,” but overall characterized it simply as “a one-page sketch short on detail.”
The plan is “hardly a serious attempt to notch a policy victory, especially considering how short it is on details,” Derek Thompson of The Atlantic observed. A Slate headline noted that the vague plan amounts to “Basically the Words ‘I Want to Cut Taxes’ Written on a Sheet of Paper.”
On Twitter, Len Burman, co-founder of the independent Tax Policy Center, compared Trump’s single-page, 250-word tax plan to the first tax cuts proposed by Ronald Reagan:
The Trump administration says that the “plan” was left intentionally vague. “There’s no way to score what we put out yesterday” in terms of its costs or impact on the deficit, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget director, told CNBC. “And we did it on purpose. Not to try and hide the numbers, but to say, ‘Look, this is the first discussion.'”
In Wednesday’s press conference, Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, did not offer any information on income brackets for the proposed new tax rates, nor did he explain exactly how middle-class families would be impacted. “It’s going to be a tax cut,” Cohn said flatly, refusing to go into any of the particulars. “We will let you know the specific details at the appropriate moment.”
‘Would Add Trillions to the Debt’
Despite the lack of detail in Trump’s plan, nonpartisan groups concerned about the federal deficit weighed in with their own criticisms. “It seems the Administration is using economic growth like magic beans – the cheap solution to all our problems. But there is no golden goose at the top of the tax cut beanstalk, just mountains of debt,” reads a statement released from Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Instead of banking on fantasy growth rates to offset debt-financed tax cuts, we should be pursuing sustainable economic growth to lift incomes and reduce budget deficits.”
“No tax cut has ever been self-financing,” the Tax Policy Center states. Its analysis indicates that federal revenues would decrease by $6.2 trillion over the next decade if Trump’s tax changes take effect, adding $20 trillion to the national debt by 2036.
“They mostly cut-and-pasted his proposal from last summer on to White House stationary,” the Tax Policy Center reports. What’s more, “There appears to be little or no chance that Congress will enact the plan the White House described.”