Donald Trump enters the section of this debate on the economy following several days of particularly bad reviews from independent analysts who have been studying his plans.
The available data suggests that Trump’s proposals – at least as written – could create real financial hardship for millions of middle-class families, while reducing taxes on the wealthy and adding substantially to the national debt. Clinton will likely try to exploit these issues, and his campaign’s recent public statements give some idea of how Trump might parry her criticisms.
Clinton will almost certainly attack Trump’s tax plan, which would increase taxes on millions of families with children – especially those with multiple children and a single parent.
On Saturday, a former Obama administration economic official named Lily Batchelder published estimates showing that roughly one in five families would be negatively affected — including more than half of all single-parent families.
On Monday, Kyle Pomerleau of the Tax Foundation, a research group in Washington that often favors conservative tax policy, wrote on social media that he and his colleagues had corroborated Batchelder’s findings.
That was just the latest in a series of analyses panning Trump’s agenda. On Thursday, a new analysis warned the platform could increase the national debt by $5.3 trillion, relative to current projections. Also published last week was a report forecasting that Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act could cost 25 million people their health insurance.
Another report, from the pro-trade Peterson Institute for International Economics, warned that 4 million Americans could be out of work if China retaliated in kind against Trump’s proposed tariffs. The consequences of the tariffs for U.S. workers is a favorite talking point of Clinton and her allies.
Confronted with this kind of analysis in the past, Trump and his campaign have generally relied on one of three responses.
They have attacked the source of the information as biased. A statement from two of Trump’s advisers dismissed the Peterson Institute’s analysis as “a globalist hit job” from a group that “has shamelessly lobbied for every bad trade deal now draining jobs and wealth from America.”
The campaign has also insisted that Trump will create rapid economic growth once in office.
His policies would not only pay for themselves, according to this argument, they would also make everyone better off. “There is no limit to the number of jobs we can create and the amount of prosperity we can unleash,” Trump said in a speech at the Economic Club of New York this month.
Finally, Trump’s advisers have said that it will be up to Congress to work out the details.
“In sending our proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected,” Stephen Miller, Trump’s national policy adviser, told The Washington Post when asked about the tax increases for ordinary families included in Trump’s current proposal.
The Republican nominee might deploy similar defenses in the debate with Clinton.