Time magazine reports that a new analysis from the Dem-aligned Center for American Progress calculates that Jeb Bush’s new tax plan would cut his own taxes by $773,000. This suggests that Democrats will try do to Jeb what they did to Mitt Romney: Cast him as a walking symbol, and personal beneficiary, of GOP priorities that seek to preserve or even exacerbate a tax code rigged for the rich and against the middle class.

What’s interesting here is the Bush campaign’s response to charges that his tax plan would result in a huge windfall for the rich: It is arguing that his plan would nonetheless increase the share of the overall tax burden that the wealthy bear.

Buttressing the argument that people like Jeb would make out very well from Jeb’s plan, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new analysis from a business-backed tax group concludes that the biggest boost in after-tax income under his plan goes to the top one percent of earners, that is, people making more than $406,000:

They would see their after-tax incomes increase on average by 11.6%, according to the analysis. That’s the biggest change for any income group.
The average for all income levels would be a 3.3% increase in income. The second-biggest beneficiaries would be folks in the top 10%, those making more than about $117,000. Their incomes would go up by 4.7%.

The Bush campaign responds that his tax plan also cuts taxes for tens of millions of middle class families, and eliminates income taxes entirely for a range of lower income families. In sum, a Bush campaign spokesman told the Journal, the Bush plan means that “the highest earners actually pay a greater share of the tax burden than they did before.”

According to Time magazine’s report, Bush’s own adjusted gross income for 2013 was almost $7.3 million, which means he stands to benefit greatly from his own tax plan, or, as Catherine Rampell puts it, “Jeb Bush’s tax plan is great for Jeb Bush.” A Bush spokesperson gave the same response to Time’s report that he would save $773,000 under his plan, claiming: “The highest earners actually pay a greater share of the taxes than they did before.”

Bush’s plan slashes taxes on the wealthy and corporations, but also contains some middle class tax relief and the elimination of certain high end tax loopholes. Those additional provisions seem designed to get news outlets to describe his overall plan as “populist,” and this strategy appears to have worked. The Bush campaign is now adding to that argument the notion that under his plan, the share of the tax burden on the rich is bigger.

Yet tax experts have argued that this is not a good measure of a tax plan’s progressivity, since a tax plan can increase the share of the overall tax burden paid by the highest earners while the plan’s tax cuts simultaneously give those top earners the biggest windfall. It’s also worth recalling that Mitt Romney tried a variation of this strategy, too. Faced with charges that his tax plan would disproportionately benefit the rich, Romney repeatedly argued that the share of the overall tax burden borne by the wealthy would not change. And voters still concluded that Romney’s policies were a boon to the rich.


* A STINGING DEFEAT FOR AIPAC: The New York Times reports that Obama’s victory on the Iran deal represents a major defeat for AIPAC that raises questions about the group’s role in turning U.S.-Israel relations into a more partisan issue. AIPAC now needs to decide whether to mend fences with Democrats or to “exact a political price” from Dems for supporting the deal.

Note that it is simply assumed that Dems can be made to pay a political price for backing the agreement. In reality, the political impact of backing the deal will depend on how well the agreement works over time, which is an unknown.

* THE SANDERS SURGE CONTINUES: A new CNN poll finds that Hillary Clinton’s lead over Bernie Sanders among Democrats nationally is down to 10 points, at 37-27. However, this may be driven more by Joe Biden, who has risen in the polls to take away some of Clinton’s support, and Biden, of course, is not even a candidate yet.

Clinton’s support among liberals has fallen from 46 percent to 23 percent. But she’s maintaining support among moderate Dems. Clinton’s broader coalition could still secure her the nomination in the demographically diverse states after Iowa and New Hampshire.

* INSIDERS STILL FAVOR HILLARY: Politico surveys Democratic insiders in Iowa and New Hampshire and finds they still think Clinton is favored to win in both those states, despite the Sanders surge, largely because of her unmatched money and organization.

Folks, it’s still early. Current polls are not all that predictive. Though there’s little doubt that the Sanders threat is real,, we just don’t know how this will all shake out.

* THE TRUMP SURGE CONTINUES: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Donald Trump has the support of 27 percent of likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers. Scott Walker, who must win Iowa, has dropped to all of … three percent. This is really something:

Trump has a 60-35 percent favorability rating among likely Republican Caucus participants, as these voters say 56-35 percent that he is honest and trustworthy and 61-32 percent that he cares about their needs and problems. He has strong leadership qualities, voters say 83-15 percent, and the right temperament and personality to handle an international crisis, voters say 52-41 percent.

Yes, Donald Trump is made of trust-worthy, empathetic, temperamentally solid stuff. In the minds of Iowa Republicans, anyway.

* IOWA REPUBLICANS WANT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO LEAVE: Another key nugget from the new Quinnipiac poll of Iowa Republican caucus-goers:

Which comes closest to your view about illegal immigrants who are currently living in the United States? A) They should be allowed to stay in the United States and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. B) They should be allowed to remain in the United States, but not be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship. C) They should be required to leave the U.S.
Stay/Citizenship: 34
Stay/Not citizen: 12
Not stay: 48

Poll after poll after poll has suggested that large percentages of Republicans agree with Trump’s specific views on immigration. But, gosh, the real source of his appeal is such a mystery!

* AND THE NEW OBAMACARE LAWSUIT WILL TAKE YEARS TO RESOLVE: Jonathan Cohn has a terrific primer on the House GOP lawsuit over Obamacare that is now moving forward in the courts. It’s a long shot, but if it succeeds, experts predict varying degrees of disruption. Congress could simply fix the problem, but as Cohn concludes:

Cases take a long time to work through the courts and a final ruling, on the merits, is likely at least two years away. By that point, Republicans might control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress. They might be willing to do nothing, and say the ensuing problems are merely more proof that the law is a “fiasco.” Of course, more than just out-of-pocket assistance might be at stake. The whole health care law could face full repeal — and that, without a doubt, would be devastating to millions.

In other words, the disruptions could be pressed into service as evidence that Obamacare is a disaster and must be repealed by the new GOP president and Congress.