Donald Trump’s Christmas Present to His Fellow Millionaires

An analysis finds that the Republican frontrunner’s tax plan reserves its greatest benefits for the wealthiest Americans.

Rebecca Cook / Reuters

Populist resentment and economic fears have helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump in a crowded Republican presidential field. For all of Trump’s populist appeal, however, wealthy Americans stand to benefit the most from the presidential contender’s tax plan, according to an analysis released on Tuesday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

After crunching the numbers on the plan, unveiled in September, the center concluded that Americans at every income level would receive tax cuts, but that the highest-income households would see the most significant cuts.

The plan also comes with a hefty price tag. Trump’s plan would cut federal revenue by nearly $10 trillion over a decade, the center estimates. Unless Trump makes deep cuts to government spending or decides to raise taxes later on, the analysis concludes that his proposal “would yield persistently large, and likely unsustainable budget deficits.”

The findings present a stark contrast with the way that Trump has described his tax plan.

According to the campaign website, Trump’s plan delivers “needed tax relief for all Americans, especially the working poor and middle class.” The description is quick to add that “this plan does not add to our enormous debt and deficit.”

“Mr. Trump’s plan speaks for itself and many experts including Larry Kudlow have praised the plan since its release in September,” Hope Hicks, a spokesman for Trump said when asked for comment.

Trump could always change his mind about the plan, or alter its details. And his supporters may not care much about a critical analysis by a Washington think-tank. So far, criticism of the real-estate mogul only seems to make his fans like him more.

The report also comes with a disclaimer. Its authors did not get answers from the Trump campaign about some of the details of the tax plan, and so they had to make some assumptions along the way. Still, a tax plan that generates large budget deficits would put Trump out of step with conservative deficit hawks intent on balancing the budget. It also clashes with the idea—fueled largely by Trump’s own claims—that his business experience is what would help him make America great again.