Quote of the Day: Taxes Are Going Way, Way Down!

Yin Bogu/Xinhua via ZUMA

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From President Trump, explaining his goal for tax reform:

We’re going to bring the individual rate to 10 percent or 12 percent, much lower than it is right now.

Boo yah! This would be quite a cut from the current top rate of 39.6 percent. Even Grover Norquist doesn’t dream of tax rates like this. That means it’s time for another round of “WTF was he talking about?” Let’s review our options:

  1. It was just a slip of the tongue. But this is unlikely since Trump specifically said “10 or 12.” He really meant it.
  2. He’s talking about personal income tax as a percentage of GDP, and he wants to increase it to 10 or 12 percent. But no: he said it would be “much lower” than it is right now.
  3. He was talking about the log of the root mean square of the average tax paid by people in the top bracket.
  4. He has no clue what he’s talking about.

Hmmm. I think I’m going with Option 4. The Post phrased this diplomatically: “It wasn’t clear exactly what he was referring to and the White House didn’t immediately clarify his intention.”

No worries, though, I’m sure the White House will explain things soon. There’s probably already some poor schmoe staying up all night looking for something—anything—that the Republican plan will plausibly reduce to 10 or 12 percent.

Here’s a hint: adjusted gross income. Currently, individual income taxes are about 14 percent of reported AGI. A tax plan that reduced this rate to “10 or 12” percent would represent a tax cut of 15-30 percent. That’s the ticket, I think.

Alternatively, the White House could just invent some new numbers of their own. Or declare that the press is playing “gotcha games.” Or insist that the president can say whatever he wants, and Beltway elites will never stop him from talking directly to the common man. Or claim ignorance until reporters get tired of asking. All of these have worked well for them in the past.

POSTSCRIPT: The Post also reports that Republicans are “looking for a way to keep their plan from being a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans.” Hahahaha. Sure they are. DC journalists crack me up sometimes.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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