September 15, 2023

Why the Republicans Win on Tax Cuts

Democrats are slow to learn that it’s the people’s money, not the government’s money.

If there’s one thing Democrats hate, it’s a tax cut. That’s understandable, too, since the lifeblood of government is other people’s money.

Think about it: Every time taxes are raised, the power of government is increased. And every time taxes are lowered, that same power is decreased.

Accordingly, Republicans tend to love tax cuts — especially during an election year. And 2024 will be no different, as Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts are set to expire after 2025, meaning that the two political parties must decide beforehand whether to extend them.

Those tax cuts, which lowered rates for businesses and individuals across all brackets, were one of Donald Trump’s signature domestic policy achievements, and they helped spur an economic boom that stood in stark contrast to the moribund Obama economy of the previous eight years. Democrats won’t admit it, but they know this to be true — which is why they’re unlikely to oppose the extension of those tax cuts when the time comes.

Indeed, if the political battle between Republicans and Democrats over tax cuts could be likened to a prize fight, it would’ve already been stopped on, yes, cuts. “Tax cuts for the rich!” goes the Democrats’ age-old campaign-season refrain. But that’s weak sauce — especially in the case of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which marked the largest reform to the nation’s tax code since Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax cut, and which, despite Democrat arguments to the contrary, benefited all Americans. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, a four-member family earning the then-median household income of $73,000 got a 58% tax cut, while a single parent with one child earning $41,000 got a 73% federal tax cut.

So much for those “Tax cuts for the rich!”

As for the looming fight over the Trump tax cuts, “Ignore the noise,” writes The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin, who rightly sees the writing on the wall. “Most of the fight is already over, and tax cuts are winning again.” He continues:

Biden calls the law an expensive failure and an unjustified giveaway to the wealthy, while Republicans promise to extend all of the tax cuts, which they see as an unqualified economic success.

The reality: Even if Biden is re-elected, most of the 2017 law isn’t going away. In his budget, Biden has already proposed extending Trump’s tax cuts for almost all households, and he has promised to avoid raising taxes on anyone making under $400,000.

Thus, the Democrats can cry all they want. But when push comes to shove, they know they’re on the wrong side of this issue. And that’s a good thing, right? After all, whose money is it anyway?

On the flip side, though, Rubin points to the fiscal mess that our irresolute political leadership has created: “Just as both parties agree that Social Security and Medicare, the two biggest federal spending programs, must not be touched, they also agree that income taxes on the overwhelming majority of Americans can go down but never up. That tacit, politically popular consensus keeps tax revenue as a share of the economy flat or declining in the long run while spending’s share rises. It also locks in a permanent budget imbalance that both parties bemoan but neither seems eager to change.”

Thus, we don’t have a revenue problem in this country; we have a spending problem.

“As a result,” Rubin writes, “the Trump tax cuts for over 98% of taxpayers almost certainly won’t be reversed, and accompanying changes to the standard deduction and personal exemptions are probably locked in, too, because changing those could break Biden’s pledge [of not raising taxes on anyone earning under $400,000].” In fact, Joe Biden long ago broke that pledge, but the mainstream media doesn’t seem too interested in reminding us of this.

As for the once and likely future Republican nominee, The Washington Post bemoans that he’s once again planning to cut taxes: “As Donald Trump widens his lead over other Republican candidates in the GOP primary, the former president’s closest economic advisers are plotting an aggressive new set of tax cuts to push on the campaign trail and from the Oval Office if he wins a second term.”

“There’s a lot of conversation right now about what the next tax priorities of a potential Trump administration should be, including lower rates — which he clearly wants to do,” said Trump economic adviser and noted supply-sider Arthur Laffer.

Trump hasn’t suggested any specifics yet, but it’d be a refreshing change if whatever tax cuts the candidate proposed were also accompanied by some spending restraint.

When last we checked, our national debt was nearly $33 trillion — which works out to more than $98,000 per citizen and more than $254,000 per taxpayer.

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