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Fresh evidence discredits key White House tax claim

It's one thing for Donald Trump to push a giant tax cut for himself. It's something else for him to lie about it.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland joint news conference
epa06169232 US President Donald J. Trump attends a joint news conference with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland in the East Room of the White House in...

"The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan." That was the assertion Gary Cohn, Donald Trump's director of the White House Economic Council, told a national television audience yesterday.

Trump World has already repeated quite a few brazen falsehoods about tax policy over the last few days, but Cohn's 11-word declaration is probably the most offensive, and as Vox noted this afternoon, there's fresh evidence that helps proves it.

The tax reform "framework" proposed by the Trump administration and Republican leaders in Congress would give the largest benefits to the top 1 and top 0.1 percent of households, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The poor and middle class would get comparatively little. And the whole thing would leave a $2.4 trillion hole in federal revenue in the first decade.

The full analysis is available here and. It's a safe bet GOP leaders aren't going to like it.

But that doesn't make it wrong. On the contrary, the independent analysis of the data speaks for itself. The Tax Policy Center found that the wealthiest 1% of Americans would get a tax break of $129,030 under the Republican "framework," while the wealthiest 0.1% of the country would get, on average, $722,510.

The typical middle-class American would get about $660, while those earning $25,000 or less would get, on average, about $60.

This is ordinarily the point at which conservative readers start shouting at their screens, insisting that those who make more are necessarily going to receive more, since that's how percentages work. That's generally true, but it doesn't work in this case: Vox's report specifically highlighted the projected percentage gains, and found, based on the TPC data, that those at the bottom would get a 0.5% boost; those in the middle would see an increase of 1.2%; one-percenters would receive 8.5% more; and the wealthiest of the wealthy -- those taking home $3.4 million a year or more -- would get a boost of 10.2%.

Meanwhile, as the New York Times noted, more than a third of Americans making between $150,000 to $300,000 face a possible tax increase, not a tax decrease.

The tax blueprint didn't have to be written this way. On the contrary, policymakers could've taken all kinds of steps to make the distribution far more progressive. But the Republicans' "Big Six" chose to do the opposite, embracing a trickle-down model that directs the bulk of the benefits to those at the very top.

And that includes, of course, a certain billionaire president who seems a little too eager to cut his own tax bill.

"I don't benefit. I don't benefit," Donald Trump declared publicly this week. "In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth."

We already know the latter part of this claim is ridiculous, but what about the degree to which the president will personally benefit from his own tax plan? The New York Times did an analysis -- based in part on the tax returns David Cay Johnson obtained, which were featured prominently on The Rachel Maddow Show -- and found that Trump would receive a windfall from his own policy.

The Washington Post ran a related piece, counting "at least nine ways the wealthy benefit, including Trump himself."

It's one thing for Donald Trump to push a giant tax cut for himself. It's something else for him to lie about it.