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Friday, May 27, 2016

US Tax Center Infographic

The US Tax Center is promoting an infographic comparing the effects of Clinton's and Trump's tax policies on income. As you might expect, it has an angle.

It's "THEIR PLANS vs. YOUR PAY." The emphasis is personal.  Apparently, we are supposed to think that everything you need to know about how these plans will "affect you" is how they will affect "your take-home pay."

This appeals to a very limited set of values. It is as if the US Tax Center doesn't want people to think about income inequality or policy in any detail at all. It's just, "which candidate is going to help put some extra cash in your pocket at the end of the month?"

Of course, the answer is the Republican candidate. If all you care about is getting some extra cash at the end of the month, then Trump is going to appeal to you.

The infographic does at least acknowledge that Trump's policies "would require cuts in a lot of services and spending."  What cuts? How will those affect us?

And shouldn't the average American care that Trump wants to lower taxes on the upper class by almost twice as much on the dollar?  According to these numbers, Trump wants to cut everyone's taxes, but he wants to cut them on the rich and powerful in particular.

Clinton wants to do the opposite. She wants to protect the income of lower and middle class Americans, and moderately raise taxes on the upper and upper middle classes. You can call her a moderate, but her bent is clearly progressive.

For what it's worth, I asked for comparative information about Bernie Sanders, and here is what they sent me:
Bernie Sanders:
The most aggressive tax plan, which establishes new brackets for the highest-income individuals. Will increase tax rates on all the existing brackets as well. 
Annual Income | Change to paycheck (bi-weekly)
$20,000 | -$8.81
$35,000 | -$59.21
$55,000 | -$148.16
$100,000 | -$293.80
$250,000 | -$683.00
As would be expected, this shows everyone paying significantly more per month.

Bernie is all but out of the race, but this is still worth considering. In terms of numbers, Clinton is very much in the middle between Trump and Bernie. However, in terms of values and principles, her approach is much closer to Bernie's. In contrast to Trump, they both want to raise, rather than lower, taxes. Also, whereas Trump wants to lower taxes on the rich by a higher percentage, Clinton and Sanders both want to raise taxes on the rich by a higher percentage. (As it happens, it looks like Clinton wants to raise taxes on the rich by a proportionally higher percentage than Bernie does.) Again, Clinton's plan might be more moderate, but it is clearly progressive.

There is one more element which distinguishes Clinton, but which you can't see in these numbers.  It is that, of the three, she is the only one whose proposals have not been criticized by experts for "magical thinking."