At a press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued that Donald Trump likes both of the competing tax plans being considered by the Republican-led House and Republican-led Senate. "Both bills achieve the president's priorities," she said. "That's been his focus: tax cuts for middle-class families."
The argument might be more compelling if it in any way reflected reality. The GOP plan in the House increases taxes on millions of middle-class households, and as the Washington Post reported, the Senate GOP's tax plan moves even more aggressively away from Trump's purported "focus."
The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to the rich while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official nonpartisan analysts.President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts doubt on that claim. Tax increases for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there, JCT found. By 2027, most Americans earning $75,000 a year or less would be forced to pay more in taxes, while people earning more than $100,000 a year would continue to pay less.
It's worth emphasizing that the Joint Committee on Taxation is basically the Congressional Budget Office for tax bills. This isn't a think tank or an advocacy organization; this is the congressional office responsible for scrutinizing tax bills for federal lawmakers.
And right now, that scrutiny is telling senators that the current Republican legislation would raise taxes on American households earning less than $75,000. If the GOP's goal is "tax cuts for middle-class families," the Senate Republican's proposal does the exact opposite.
Vox's Matt Yglesias added that the Joint Committee on Taxation's report is, to a degree, incomplete, but not in a way GOP officials can credibly complain about. For example, the analysis didn't include the Republican tax plan's repeal of the estate tax, which exclusively benefits multi-millionaires, and it doesn't include the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which will disproportionately punish the poor and middle class.
In other words, as damaging as the Joint Committee on Taxation's latest analysis is for Republicans, the truth is actually a little worse.
For context, let's also note that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) boasted last week that the Republican tax plan would deliver "a tax cut for everybody." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added that "nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase" under his bill.
Both of them have since admitted that those claims weren't true, but the Republican leaders haven't yet publicly acknowledged the evidence that suggests they had the entire story backwards.