The Trump Administration Shows Just How Clueless It Is About the Middle Class
Published in The Washington Post
on November 13, 2019
The White House is reportedly considering making a “middle-class tax cut” the centerpiece of its 2020 economic agenda. If that campaign goes forward, the administration would show just how clueless it is about what “middle class” means.
The Post reported Tuesday that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was leading the charge to create a “15 percent tax rate for the American middle class.” That sounds good — until you look at the actual tax rates middle-class families pay now. Most American families already pay less than 15 percent of their income in taxes, so a 15 percent rate would actually be a tax increase for most middle-class families.
Though Kudlow stressed that the administration was still in its preliminary stages of developing the tax cut, the proposed 15 percent rate suggests the White House is out of touch with real American families. Families don’t pay more than 15 percent until they earn more than about $80,000 in taxable income. Add the $25,000 standard deduction — the amount a family can earn without paying any tax — to that, and a family has to earn a minimum of $105,000 a year before they would save a penny with a 15 percent tax rate.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.