Promoting freedom, innovation, and growth

Connect with IPI

Receive news, research, and updates

September 28, 2016

Only One Trump or Clinton Tax Reform Detail Matters


During the first presidential debate on Monday, those of us who care about things like tax policy and economic growth were encouraged that tax reform played an early and important role, before things devolved into the usual nonsense.

Donald Trump asserted that his yuuge tax cut would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and stop companies from relocating jobs and capital overseas, as well as repatriate trillions of dollars in offshore profits to be invested in the US.

Hillary Clinton claimed that her plan would rebuild the middle class and provide debt-free college.  She would pay for her plan by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations so they would, finally, pay their “fair share.”  She also wants to use that new tax revenue to spend on green energy projects.

Both candidates have tax reform plans that have been scored by various neutral and not-so-neutral parties. Earlier this year we highlighted the Tax Foundation’s evaluation of the various Republican and Democratic candidates’ tax reform proposals because we think their model is among the more realistic.

We in the policy world love to dig into the details of these proposals and hash them out, but the truth is, the details of Trump’s and Clinton’s tax reform plans don’t really matter. Which seems like an odd thing for a policy nerd to say.

But it’s true, and the reason is that tax reform bills aren’t written by presidents—they are written by the House Ways & Means Committee, the current chairman of which is Rep. Kevin Brady.

Of course a president may provide significant input into any legislation he or she will be asked to sign. But all of the detail work and the heavy lifting will be done on Ways & Means, with similar subsequent work done by the Senate Finance Committee.

That’s why, if you don’t like a particular detail of one candidate’s plan, or if you think the numbers don’t add up or that a candidate is exaggerating what they think they can deliver through tax reform, it doesn’t really matter. Because those won’t be the final details, and those won’t be the final numbers.

The only detail that matters from Trump and Clinton on tax reform is this: Hillary Clinton intends to raise taxes so the government can spend more, and Donald Trump intends to lower taxes so individuals and businesses can spend more.


  • TaxBytes-New

Copyright Institute for Policy Innovation 2018. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Contact IPI.

e-resources e-resources