Maybe Donald Trump isn’t such an unconventional politician after all.
The Republican presidential frontrunner released his tax plan on Monday morning, and the most noteworthy thing about the proposal is how utterly plain-vanilla it is. Yes, Trump’s plan would dramatically reshape the tax code by cutting the current seven income brackets to four, slashing rates for the rich, poor, and businesses, and eliminating a host of loopholes and deductions. But that’s basically what Republican candidates and lawmakers have been proposing for years. Trump is hardly breaking the mold.
That’s not how Trump described it, of course. Standing next to the now-iconic gold-trimmed escalator in Trump Tower and surrounded by his usual cadre of sign-holding tourist-campaign-supporters, the candidate presented his proposal as if he were Moses delivering the Commandments. “It’s a tax reform that I think will make America strong and great again,” he declared. Trump added later in the press conference: “I think people will be very happy.”
And why wouldn’t they? In Trump’s telling, just about everyone would see a tax cut—except perhaps himself. (“It’s going to cost me a fortune,” he said, although when you look at the details of the plan, it wasn’t clear this would actually be true.) The top marginal income rate would drop to 25 percent from nearly 40 percent, middle-income earners would pay 10 or 20 percent, and anyone earning less than $25,000 a year ($50,000 for married couples) would pay no income tax at all. Trump would scrap the marriage penalty, the estate tax, and the alternative minimum tax. Businesses would pay no more than 15 percent of their income to the government.