As of our publication date at 5 PM Central Time, Donald Trump was leading in national polls among all Republican presidential candidates on the Real Clear Politics average. Incredible as it may seem, Mr Trump, a businessman and investor, commands almost a 15-point lead, on average, in polls of likely Republican Primary voters, over the next-highest candidate, Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon.
I once enjoyed watching Mr Trump show more than a hint of misogyny and xenophobia, but since we’re as close to the Iowa Caucuses as we are, such a big lead—although today’s poll by Monmouth University puts the two poll-leaders in a tie in Iowa among likely caucusgoers—suggests we need to take this candidacy much more seriously than engaging in a debate about his views on women or immigration will allow.
Since the epic fail of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s 2001 prediction that President George W Bush’s tax cuts would eliminate the national debt by 2010, I’ve been cautious to write about taxes, even though taxes are the primary drivers of funding for our schools. I am also convinced that many think tanks are confused about what actually drives the economy, so I have given them very little visibility on these pages.
But when Mr Trump says the government should raise taxes and eliminate some of the loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, I have to weigh in. I still can’t be sure Mr Trump’s candidacy will last too far into the primary season, but what anybody actually knows about the heart and soul of America is very, very little.
Like Bernie Sanders on the left, Mr Trump shoots from the hip. The former’s delivery is studied and the latter’s angry, but the tell-it-like-it-is approach is resonating with voters. Is there something to Mr Trump’s plan for taxes? It includes threats of the following:
- Raising taxes on corporations that don’t act in the best interest of the US
- Imposing tariffs on US companies that put their factories in other countries
- Increasing taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers
- Changing laws that allow American companies to use mergers to base their operations in foreign countries (and benefit from lower tax rates as a result)
Once I stop laughing at the very thought of electing Mr Trump to the presidency—a man who clearly hates Mexicans and doesn’t seem to want to be president—I have to take these ideas seriously.
Would Republicans actually nominate a candidate who won’t serve the interests of wealthy party donors? “All of those are anti-growth policies,” the New York Times quoted David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, a group that Republican candidates routinely court, as saying. “Yes he’s a businessman, but if those are the policies he implements, they’ll drive the economy into the ground and we’ll see huge drops in [gross domestic product], and frankly I think it would lead to massive loss of jobs.”
I already said what I think, based on empirical evidence, of the opinions of conservative think tanks when it comes to the economy, but the above remark shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Clearly Mr McIntosh is interested in appealing to the wealthiest Americans, who feel at liberty to use money as speech à la Citizens United. But their pet plans for our taxes have failed in the recent past. Reagan-like economic policies—i.e., giving handouts to corporations to create jobs—have backfired and sent those jobs overseas. I care about people in China as much as America, of course, but Chinese employers aren’t subject to the same worker protections as American employers are, meaning cuts in expenditures on the part of American companies have produced situations that degrade human rights for foreign workers in the interest of profit for American corporations.
This is not good citizenship, and I hope people listen to some of these ideas before dismissing them ad hominem. Just as I supported the Common Core idea—that of unifying higher learning standards for all students, no matter what state they lived in—I also support an increase in taxes on hedge fund managers, on corporations that pollute the Earth, and on companies that use money, to the exclusion of more humanistic factors, to drive politics.