Background image by Constantine Agustin, Creative Commons license 2.0

The Washington Post ran a fun piece of speculative nonfiction Wednesday about economic advisers suggesting to Donald Trump that an election-year tax cut plan might also include a minimum corporate tax, according to "two people briefed on the planning" for what's informally being called "Tax Cut 2.0." The idea, says the story, is to "address criticism that the 2017 tax law allowed many of the country's largest firms to virtually eliminate their federal tax burden," and maybe to raise some revenue to offset those beautiful "middle-class tax cuts" that Trump has been talking about since the 2018 midterm elections.

Mind you, the sources caution, the tax package discussions are still in the early stages and the minimum corporate tax "has not been officially endorsed" or maybe even spoken of aloud in Trump's presence. Those in favor of the idea say it might help to blunt Democrats' criticisms that the benefits of 2017's Big Fat Tax Cuts For Rich Fuckwads went almost entirely to rich fuckwads, such as the 91 companies on the Forbes 500 that paid precisely zero dollars in federal corporate tax for 2018.

Yup, this is a pure moonshine story being floated by somebody as a trial balloon. Donald Trump doesn't need to show he's Getting Tough on corporations. He can just as well lie and say the 2017 tax cuts gave all Fox News viewers better gas mileage and brighter smiles, and that will become the truth.


Still, the WaPo story offers a nice look at serious economic conservatives pretending they can make a case for any taxes at all on the Republican donor class, so let's see what they're saying about Trump's grand middle class tax cut bargain.

"Trump has been very clear: He wants this to be really targeted for people in the middle," said one person involved in the effort. "They are hunting for ideas and looking at what we can to do offset some of this stuff" [...]

External advisers to the White House have discussed constructing a $1 trillion tax cut package that is aimed at the middle class by lowering rates and expanding tax-free savings accounts. They have also discussed putting limits on the amount of state and local tax payments that companies are able to deduct from their federal taxes, people involved in the talks said.

Well sure, a cap on corporate deductions. You bet, Trump would be open to that, at least until Fox News calls it a Deep State plot to destroy job creators and end the "economic boom" that's only a small bit slower than the last three years of Obama's presidency. But maybe Trump would like it since it would hurt revenues for companies in blue states with higher tax rates. It could go either way.

The Post piece lays out the central reason Trump won't go for this idea, right in the sixth paragraph:

Proposing a minimum tax on corporations could be interpreted by critics as an extraordinary admission by the White House that its 2017 tax cut went too far in slashing business rates.

Honestly, we don't know why there's even a seventh paragraph. Donald Trump does not make mistakes, and even if the 2017 tax cuts utterly failed to create the economic boom Trump promised, he's committed to insisting the economy is growing at a rate that's never been seen before, and he has the carefully cooked statistics to prove it. Trump might well crap out some kind of "middle class tax cut" before the election; his top economic voodoo doctor Larry Kudlow has said a plan might be released in September.

But whatever the proposal contains, it won't go anywhere in a divided Congress, so it will chiefly be a campaign prop. It doesn't have to add up; it just needs to contain some vague promises to help the everyday working stiffs Trump loves so much and always hangs out with, when he's not stiffing them for their work.

And then Trump can make them all really mad about how the Democrats wouldn't give them that tax cut, damn those monsters. Maybe that's the real purpose of the trial balloon in the Post. Why, those awful Dems even turned down a minimum corporate tax like Elizabeth Warren wanted, just to hurt you, Mr. and Mrs. FoxAmerica!

[WaPo / Background image by Constantine Agustin, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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