Donald Trump unveiled his ridiculous tax plan on Monday, proving once again that he's reinventing the political wheel by replacing it with marshmallow fluff.
Before we dive in, let's rewind a few years when the Republican Party went completely ballistic after it discovered that around 47 percent of Americans don't pay federal income tax. This, Republicans told us, was outrageous, showing how too many Americans are simply "takers" who feed off the government while paying nothing into the system. Firstly, of course these particular Americans pay into the system through a variety of other taxes, including state, local and sales taxes, even though they don't earn enough to pay federal income taxes. But the reality of the dreaded "47 percent" didn't prevent then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney from saying via hidden video that the 47 percenters wouldn't vote for him because he won't give them free stuff in exchange for nothing.
Romney wasn't the only Republican who lapsed into a sweet outrage coma after hearing the number. Rush Limbaugh said, "The bottom 40 percent of American earners -- the bottom 40 percent -- on average, make a profit from the federal income tax. What I mean by that is, they get more money in tax credits than they would owe otherwise in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment: The earned income tax credit, the I-don't-have-a-school-lunch tax credit, the defeat-the-Republicans tax credit, the support-unions-and-Democrats tax credit." And Sean Hannity: "If half of Americans now don't pay taxes, and the other half are the beneficiaries of the tax that the other half pay, at some point you say, OK, you got a full voting block and it seems like the Democratic Party ... caters to that." And Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade: "97.11 percent of the taxes comes from 50 percent of the wage earners. There's a lot of people not paying taxes. And also, about who pays taxes, only 2.7 percent of taxes come from the bottom 50 percent of wage earners. So of course they're not -- the burden's not going to be on them. It's going to be on the people that are paying most of it anyway."
What do those three characters have in common? Ideologically speaking, they're all Republicans who seem to hate the idea that certain Americans don't pay taxes, even though, I thought, Republicans were opposed to taxes. You'd think the GOP would've been thrilled upon hearing the news that nearly half of Americans are sticking it to the big bad government. Instead, the news inexplicably drove them bananas -- so much so that they seemed to cross over into a bizarro universe in which everything is opposite and Republicans love taxes.
The other thing Limbaugh, Hannity and Kilmeade have in common is they're all unapologetic supporters of Donald Trump and, we can safely assume, Trump's new tax plan, even though, according to Politico, the number of Americans who don't pay federal income tax will increase significantly.
Under the proposal, individuals making less than $25,000 and married couples making less than $50,000 will not have to pay taxes. While 36 percent of American households do not pay income tax currently, that share would jump to 50 percent.
Now, of course, the percentage of taxpayers who don't pay federal income tax has dropped since Romney's unfortunate remarks. But thanks to Trump, it'd not only go up again under a would-be Trump administration, but it'd surpass the number about which Romney, Limbaugh and the others were crapping their cages back in 2011 and 2012.
On top of all that, Trump lied when he said on "60 Minutes" that he planned to raise his own taxes. The taxes for the top earners would drop from 36 percent to 25 percent. Trump would also entirely eliminate the estate tax -- known in Republican parlance as the "death tax," and elsewhere as a valuable check against wealth inequality. The top rate on capital gains, meanwhile, would drop from 24 to 20 percent. And while Trump would cap some deductions favored by the wealthy, the not-at-all-liberal Wall Street Journal reported that the reductions in the marginal rates would likely make up for the deduction caps. In other words, Trump lied again. He'd absolutely give himself a tax cut. Because of course he would.
So, in three or four short years, the Republicans have gone from vilifying the so-called "takers" to championing a frontrunner for president who wants to create more takers who won't have to pay federal income taxes.
It's impossible to find a party at any other moment in American history that's this completely incoherent and contradictory. Whether it's Ted Cruz wanting to repeal Obamacare while signing up for a policy because it's a better value for his family; or whether it's the crusade against Planned Parenthood, an organization that saves millions more lives than abortions performed; or whether the GOP's top libertarian, Rand Paul, filibustering the use of drones then saying he'd use drones to kill liquor store thieves, there is no precedent for how off-the-rails the Republican Party has fallen. And it's going to get worse before it ever improves.