There is a very tempting reason to vote for Donald Trump.
Opponents will say he is unfit to be president. They call him a racist, a misogynist, a narcissist, an egotist, a bully and a fraud. They are not altogether wrong.
Some say that he is not as great a businessman as he’s claimed. He’s had numerous bankruptcies, significant amounts of debt and the reluctance to release his tax returns is alarming. There is much truth to this claim.
Many business owners I know believe his economic policies are significantly flawed. They agree that trade with certain countries is done unequally. But they support international trade agreements that would open up new markets. They prefer a better immigration policy than building a wall and keeping Muslims out of the country. They are concerned that repealing the Affordable Care Act, flawed as it is, would cause significant disruption and uncertainty. Their arguments are valid.
Then there are those who are fearful he could irreparably harm our relationships with other countries and even risk catastrophic war. They distrust his intentions and question his intelligence. They are angry with his behavior and believe he caters to the lowest common demoninator. None of this is completely untrue.
Trump is hated by Democrats and he’s opposed by many in his own party. He’s embarrassed Paul Ryan and infuriated the Bushes. He’s demeaned John McCain. He says the election is rigged. This is not the behavior of a potential president of the United States.
All of these reasons makes it very, very difficult to vote for him. Except for one thing. One very, very tempting thing.
Trump wants to my reduce taxes. Really, really reduce them. And for a middle class business owner like me who has been struggling under the weight of higher federal and local tax rates I’ve been paying over the past few years, it’s a very tempting proposal. Tempting enough, for many, to vote for him. Why?
Trump not only wants to decrease individual tax rates but, even more significantly, he plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from its current 35 percent level. This is very big for small businesses because it will allow the millions of us who file as S-Corporations to benefit from that lower rate instead of paying taxes at the higher individual rates like we’re now doing. Trump also wants to reduce the capital gains tax depending on income levels and eliminate the estate tax altogether. All of these proposals are in addition to deductions he plans for childcare and healthcare and are in complete contrast to Hillary Clinton’s proposals. It all adds up to big, big savings.
According to a a study done earlier this year by the Tax Foundation, Trump’s tax proposals would have an enormous effect on the economy – increasing growth by 11.5 percent and creating 5.3 million more jobs over 10 years. Other analysis, like the Penn Wharton Budget Model released this week are not as rosy. But for small business owners like me, there’s no denying that his tax plan would put a significant amount of money back into my pocket – money that I could use for spending, tuition for my kids and retirement. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that Trump’s tax proposals would likely create an alarming unfunded hole in the government’s budget – something a business owner could never accept in his own company. According to that same Tax Foundation report (and other analysis), his plan would increase our national debt by as much as $10 trillion over the next 10 years. This is the same national debt that has increased by about $7.5 trillion under President’ Obama’s two terms and is now larger than our entire annual Gross Domestic Product.
This is a number so big that most economists differ on its impact. On the one hand, excessive government debt and deficits could lead to the kind of economic problems that we’ve seen in Greece, Spain and Japan over the past few years. But then again, some economists – even Paul Krugman – have written that debt is not such a bad thing as long as it can be serviced. The question is how much debt is too much. No one really knows.
So until that question is answered, we’re faced with a tough choice.
We have a candidate that – even with all his enormous flaws – wants to put more money in our pockets by reducing our taxes. Yet, he does not have a reasonable plan for how the loss in government revenues will be paid for. And his plan is based on tax cuts spurring growth that will not only help balance the budget but service both the principal and interest obligations on our government’s debts. It’s a big leap of faith.
But, we are all tired of turning over nearly 40 percent (particularly when state, local, real estate and other taxes are thrown into the pot) of our income to poorly run, wasteful governments. Shouldn’t we instead just ignore his potential unfitness and jump on this offer, take the money and keep it for our children?
Is $29 trillion in government debt so much worse than $19 trillion as long as its serviceable? Does anyone really know the answer to that?
Trump is not a great candidate – and potentially a dangerous one. But gee…that tax cut really does look tempting. Really, really tempting.