Taxes

Trump's New Middle Class Tax Cut Is Fake News

Not even Trump knows what's in it.

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IVARSSON JERKER/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Last weekend, President Trump began talking up a vague new tax cut for middle class families. There is no reason to believe that any plan for this tax cut currently exists, or that it will happen at any point in the foreseeable future. The tax cut is what Trump would call fake news.

The first sign that Trump was making up the idea on the fly was his refusal to provide any details. On Monday, he clarified somewhat, saying, "We're giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent" beyond what was in last year's Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. On several occasions, Trump promised that this tax cut would come next week, although he later clarified that he was only talking about a resolution; an actual vote on legislation, he said would occur after the election. But even this is impossible. Congress won't be in session next week, and, unless it unexpectedly reconvenes, won't be able to pass anything, not even a resolution.

In the meantime, no one in Trump's orbit appears to been apprised of the supposed plan. Trump said, for example, that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R–Wisc.) was involved in the plan, which you would expect, since he generally supports tax reductions, and since any vote would need to be managed by his office. But when asked about the plan by Politico, Ryan's office declined to provide any details, referring all questions back to the White House. A senior Trump administration official told Politico, "I guess I'll hear about it when I get to work on Monday." Remember, this is a plan that Trump initially said would be ready next week.

If Trump's new tax cut were anything more than an election-eve brainfart, you would also expect that Rep. Kevin Brady (R–Texas), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which crafts tax legislation, would be involved. But Brady also appears to be out of the loop.

Several days after Trump first mentioned the tax cut, Brady released a vague statement praising previous GOP tax legislation and promising to "continue to work with the White House and Treasury over the coming weeks to develop an additional 10 percent tax cut focused specifically on middle-class families and workers." Translated: No actual work has been done on the plan—presumably because Brady, like everyone else, had no idea what Trump was talking about.

Even Trump himself does not appear to know much about his proposal. Although he has repeatedly described it as a middle-class tax cut, he could not explain to The Wall Street Journal how "middle class" would be defined. ("Well, we'll define it. We'll have to—we'll have to define that. I mean, there is a definition, but we'll make sure the definition is right.") He also insisted, again, that a resolution vote would occur shortly, saying, "[T]his would be a resolution, because they're out, but we're doing the resolution now," and then had to be reminded that the resolution would not be possible until Congress returned to session. (Trump also strongly implied he has already been working with Brady on the plan for a long time, which, given Brady's details-free statement about working on the plan in the "coming weeks," strains credulity.)

In short: Neither Trump nor anyone associated with him can explain his plan, because a plan does not exist.

Which is perhaps to be expected from a president whose personal image and professional career were built largely on flim-flam. Even still, the episode neatly encapsulates the utter brokenness of the policymaking process in the Trump administration, and the ways in which Trump's penchant for blustery nonsense makes that already chaotic process worse.

In a normal White House, under a normal president, this state of affairs—a president repeatedly making obviously false promises about a forthcoming policy that neither he nor anyone who works with him can explain—would be incredibly embarrassing. But Trump's staff and Republicans in Congress appear resigned to this sort of thing as an unavoidable consequence of the president's character. The people who work with Trump have, for the most part, simply accepted that he is ignorant and unreliable.

And Trump, who has continued to tout the supposed tax cuts throughout the week despite how obvious it is that they are an election-season ruse, appears perfectly comfortable with the situation. Although he often assails the media for producing fake news, which often refers to news reports that are true but unflattering, he is happy to spread fake news himself.

If anything, this appears to be Trump's comfort zone. He seems more willing to talk about his fake tax plan, which has no details to worry about getting wrong, and which exists as a pure policy hypothetical with no tradeoffs to be questioned, than most of the real domestic economic policy proposals his administration and Republicans in Congress have actually pursued. Trump's middle class tax cut is an imaginary plan from a president who prefers fake policy to the real thing.

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  1. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out a president or a political candidate was making unfounded promises.
    But is Trump’s assertion “credible” or not? That’s all that matters to many folks.

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  2. Not even Trump knows what’s in it.

    All the more reason to pass it and find out. /sarc

    1. “Not even Trump knows what’s in it.”

      Only a fool would give the bad faith media tools more details to distract, speculate and lie about.

  3. Trump’s middle class tax cut is an imaginary plan from a president who prefers fake policy to the real thing.

    Poor Suderman, it must be difficult to keep his head up his own ass for so long.

    1. Of Suderman’s last ten articles, nine are whining about Trump.
      Poor lad was hit really hard.

  4. Peter, it’s only ‘fake news’ if it doesn’t happen.

    Right now, it looks like we’re just at the start of it.

  5. I worry less about the policies the current President wishes he could enact than the policies the previous President ram-rodded through congress.

  6. I’m not sure how well this sells with middle class voters:

    “Trump is lying when he says he wants to cut your taxes, vote for us to make absolutely sure it won’t happen!”

    1. I hope they run with it.

      1. I’m firmly in the “We are completely screwed in the long run” camp when it comes to spending, so I’d rather have more of my own money until it comes to a head anyway.

        1. This. A thousand times this.

          Until they demonstrate an ability to cut spending – really cut spending – I’m all about paying less taxes.

          1. Even once they do demonstrate such ability, aren’t you still all about that? When is paying less tax ever bad?

  7. Even still, the episode neatly encapsulates the utter brokenness of the policymaking process in the Trump administration, and the ways in which Trump’s penchant for blustery nonsense makes that already chaotic process worse.

    No, it illustrates the way Shit Trump Says can be turned into a daily column in about 5 minutes. Trump’s a fat-headed egomaniac who loooooves nothing more than talking about Trump and here you are feeding his ego by pretending that some random thought that popped into his head and fell out of his face is anything worth mentioning.

    1. “popped into his head and fell out of his face”

      I’m stealing this.

    2. “Trump…who loooooves nothing more than talking about Trump…”

      Trump is forced to speak about himself and his actual accomplishments because corrupt news insists on virtually nothing but negativity, manipulative speculation and propaganda (stats back that). Go figure that Trump has to blow his own Trumpet and relentlessly trumps the conspiring medias’ agenda at almost every turn. Hope you enjoy the triggers with bump stock.

      “…it illustrates the way Shit Trump Says can be turned into a daily column in about 5 minutes.”
      Yeah, so does that speak to journalistic laziness, corruption, TDS and/or resentment that Trump lives rent free in their heads. Journalists really should not resent his rent free status because nobody loves a squatter, of foreign or domestic origin, more than an easily triggered libtard. Looks like cognitive dissonance and TDS are an especially bad combo. Soooo sad, too bad.

      1. Re: Exqueezeyou,

        Trump is forced [?] to speak about himself and his actual accomplishments because corrupt news insists on virtually nothing but negativity[…]

        Translation: He has a very thin skin. Soooo sad. So bad.

  8. The first sign that Trump was making up the idea on the fly was his refusal to provide any details.

    Another sign of his penchant for making up ideas on the fly is his refusal to provide any supporting evidence for everything he spews out. It’s like he’s the guy in the diner who yells “It’s the end of the world!” while Mitch and Melanie are having their conversation with the old ornithologist.

    1. “The first sign that Trump was making up the idea on the fly was his refusal to provide any details.”

      False. It’s a wise tactic. The real question is if you believe your own bullshit.

      1. Re: Exsqueezeyou,

        False. It’s a wise tactic.

        Wait – what’s false? And why then do you immediately say “it’s a wise tactic” if it’s supposed to be ‘false’? Those two things are contradictory.

        The real question is if you believe your own bullshit.

        Get that nasty bite on your tongue looked up. Nobody wants to see you bleed to death.

        1. What is false is your assertion that because he did not provide details, he was making up the idea. Comprende’, pendejo. Politicians frequently do not provide details for practical reasons.

          “Nobody wants to see you bleed to death.” Don’t be so sure. My tongue draws first blood. Now tend to your wounds.

          1. I really don’t understand anyone being so pathetically tied to Trump. Does he need you defending him at every twist and turn? Go outside, do something important with your life.

  9. The people who work with Trump have, for the most part, simply accepted that he is ignorant and unreliable.

    I thin that’s unfair. The staff can’t think he’s ignorant and unreliable. They must have resigned themselves to the idea that DJT is reliably ignorant.

    1. He’s totes predictable. Whatever Hannity says he says shortly thereafter. Same combover routine every morning.

      Which is a good trait in a man with rapidly advancing dementia, really.

  10. I don’t give a fake fuck

  11. Oh ye of little faith.
    You threw a constant barrage of brick-bats at the “tax cut” at the beginning of his term, and you continue without even knowing what will be proposed and/or passed out of the Congress on this “cut”.
    Guess you’re more in favor of tax increases – and spare me about the level of spending, spending is always too high; and the only way to reduce it is to “starve the beast”.

  12. So? Ever heard of a trial balloon?

    Trump’s signaling his interest in a tax cut?which is a good thing, amirite? If the support’s there, it’ll materialize. If not, nothing lost.

  13. Peter Suderman, here’s an Ibuprofin suppository for your butthurt.

  14. Funny as hell watching Reason authors get pissed about tax cuts ‘because Trump’.

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