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Sat Apr 2, 2016, 11:35 PM

Cruz, Trump and Sanders want to go where few candidates have dared tread.

Interesting story in U.S. News comparing the tax plans of the four leading candidates. Here is a summary of the tax plans:


Here is a calculator of how each plan would affect you:


Of course, this does not necessarily discuss the spending or cuts that each candidate is proposing. With Bernie, a lot of those additional revenues would be applied toward new programs, rather than to merely trying to cut the deficit. With the Republicans, they are being pretty vague about what programs that they would cut to pay for their massive tax cuts to the rich.


Sanders' tax proposals are sweeping in size and scope raising $15.3 trillion (6.4 percent of gross domestic product or GDP) over a decade. His plan is highly progressive, with high-income taxpayers bearing the largest increases in taxes, both in dollars and as a percent of their income, although most other taxpayers would pay modestly more as well. Sanders would simplify some features of the tax code but also add two new taxes, such as a tax on financial transactions and a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Clinton's proposals would raise a much more modest but still substantial $1.1 trillion over a decade. Her plan is highly progressive as well, with 80 percent of the tax increases falling on the top 1 percent of taxpayers and little or none on the bottom four-fifths. She doesn't change corporate tax rates but proposes measures to, among other things, discourage tax avoidance by multinational corporations. The Tax Policy Center highlights her measures that add complexity and the disincentives from her higher tax rates. Its analysis is incomplete, it says, since Clinton has additional proposals in the works, including a tax cut for low- and moderate-income households.

On the Republican side, both the Cruz and Trump proposals would cost huge revenues ($8.7 trillion over a decade for Cruz, $9.5 trillion for Trump), while providing most of their tax cuts to very high-income people. While the Tax Policy Center sees the potential for tax simplification and greater incentives to work, save and invest in these plans, its overwhelming features are that they're highly regressive and would blow a huge hole in the budget. "Barring extraordinarily large cuts in government spending or future tax increases," it concludes for each candidate's plan, "it would yield persistently large, and likely unsustainable, budget deficits."

Cutting government programs so greatly to pay for tax cuts that go overwhelmingly to the rich would require far harsher cuts even than those in the House Budget Committee-approved budget, which gets 62 percent of its non-defense cuts from low- and moderate-income programs. Cruz and Trump provide few specifics on how they'd close the budget gap that their tax cuts would create, but it's hard to see how these programs wouldn't do even worse than in the House plan.

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