ouse Republicans, led by budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), say their budget will give big tax breaks to virtually every taxpayer, reducing the top income bracket to 25 percent, from 35 percent, and flattening the other brackets to 10 percent. But that would reduce federal revenue by $4.5 trillion over 10 years, and the only realistic way to make that up, according to a new analysis from Senate Democrats, is to effectively raise taxes on the middle class by eliminating "the biggest middle-class tax benefits — like the mortgage interest deduction, and the tax exclusion on employer health benefits," says Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo. According to the Democrats' study, signed off on by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, couples earning $100,000 to $200,000 a year would see their taxes jump by $2,681 a year, those earning $50,000 to $100,000 would pay an extra $1,358, while couples earning $1 million or more would get a hefty $286,543 tax break. "Ryan seems to want to have his cake and eat it, too, and this report shows that you can't," says Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). "If you want to cut taxes on the rich and not raise the deficit, you're going to have to basically clobber the middle class." Would the GOP's tax plan really "soak the middle class"?
Republicans won't raise taxes: There is "something wrong with this analysis," says Paul Waldman at The American Prospect. Republicans will "never, never, never" propose raising taxes on the middle class. If you think Republicans will actually push to "get rid of the mortgage interest deduction, the biggest middle-class entitlement the government hands out, you're nuts." That still leaves us with "big tax cuts at the top end that balloon the deficit," but that only bothers Republicans when Democrats are in the White House.
"Tax Reform Silliness"
Well, the GOP could rebut this if it wanted to: "Ryan and his fans will say that this analysis is unfair" because the GOP hasn't said which tax loopholes it would close, says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. But these "numbers are almost certainly in the right ballpark." To pay for giving the rich huge tax breaks, Ryan has to axe popular middle-class exemptions like the mortgage-interest deduction. He won't fill in the blanks because if he "actually fessed up to these details, even the most ardent Tea Partier would suddenly become a pitchfork-wielding foe of Ryan's plan."
"Surprise! Paul Ryan wants to cut taxes on the rich"
Not all GOP tax plans are the same: Mitt Romney pledges that under his own tax plan, everyone's "share of the tax burden" stays the same, says Domenico Montanaro at MSNBC. Sure, like Ryan, he won't specify how he'll pay for cutting everyone's taxes, but fuzzy math is a bipartisan problem. Our choice is "a vague plan from Romney that, [based on] what's known so far, disproportionately benefits the wealthy and isn't at all clear that it would raise enough revenue to offset its cost; or Obama's, which targets the rich, but also would do little to close the nation's deficits."
"Would wealthy really pay same share of taxes under Romney?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Good Friday is so important to Christians
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Why Holy Thursday is so important to Christians
Subscribe to the Week