This updated economic outline shows some acknowledgement of earlier criticisms. For instance, individual tax rates have been raised from the original plan that specified brackets of 10 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent, which many feared were way too low to continue providing enough revenue. But overall, many of Trump’s plans amount to tax relief for high earners and business owners.
The new tax rates, while higher, would still provide a nice cut for those in the highest tax bracket, who currently pay 39.6 percent of their income to the government. Trump railed against the “death tax”—also known as the estate tax—as unfair and un-American, saying that it siphons more money from hard-working Americans who have paid taxes for their entire lives. In reality, only a tiny number of very wealthy American families are subject to this tax—about two of every 1,000 estates, a Center on Policy and Budget Priorities report finds. And these estates wind up paying less than one-sixth of their overall value in taxes.
Trump’s economic plan promises to get rid of loopholes for the carried-interest deduction—which allows those who manage investment funds to receive preferential tax treatment on their earnings—an idea that has actually been taken up as something of a liberal cause. But he also proposes chopping the corporate tax rate by more than 50 percent, down to a 15 percent flat rate, from the highest rate of 35 percent. Trump says that small businesses will benefit the most, but few businesses have actually paid a rate as high as 35 percent in recent years, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. And those that have been taxed at that rate have often had their effective rate reduced thanks to credits or deductions, or been relatively wealthy, with over $10 million in assets.
Helping Trump form this economic plan is his recently announced economic advisory team. The 13-member group is composed entirely of men, and despite Trump’s billing of the team as a group of economic experts, only one of them actually has a doctorate degree in economics. Instead, the group consists of business leaders: billionaires, bankers, and a poker player, to name a few. Many in the group also happen to be Trump’s largest donors. (Trump has said that his daughter, Ivanka, has helped him with his plan, though she isn’t listed as an official economic advisor.)
The move away from heavyweight academic economists seems to be intentional. In his speech, Trump mocked the “so-called” economic experts employed by the Democratic party, saying that they have consistently failed to successfully boost the economy in the aftermath of the recession.
Trump spent a fairly large portion of his nearly hour-long speech trashing the economic legacy of Presidents Obama and Clinton, and criticizing Hillary Clinton’s economic platform, which he said would tilt the balance of power toward foreign countries and strip jobs from American workers. But Monday’s speech offered a bevy of tax cuts without very specific plans for how to make up the lost revenue, aside from repealing Obamacare. He claimed, for instance, that “Our lower business tax will also end job-killing corporate inversions, and cause trillions in new dollars and wealth to come pouring into our country.”