We retired Tax Justice Blog in April 2017. For new content on issues related to tax justice, go to www.justtaxesblog.org
The rapid-fire succession of GOP debates has continued, with four more occurring in just the last couple weeks. Here we deconstruct the most ludicrous or notable quotes from each candidate:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:…when I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets…
It was exciting to see Ron Paul finally call Gingrich out during the latest debate for repeatedly claiming that he balanced the federal budget four years in a row. Citizens for Tax Justice’s Bob McIntyre thoroughly debunked this claim over 9 months ago when Gingrich first starting making it, yet until now none of the GOP candidates have called him out for it.
Former Governor Mitt Romney: I’m proud of the fact that I pay a lot of taxes.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: I’m prepared to describe my 15 percent flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax. I’d like to bring everybody else down to Mitt’s rate, not try to bring him up to some other rate.
Gingrich’s $18 trillion tax plan would not bring everyone down to the rate that Romney pays because it would actually further reduce Romney’s tax rate to almost zero. Even Romney seemed to think that reducing his tax rate to zero would be going too far and went out of his way during a recent Republican debate to point this out to Gingrich.
Former Senator Rick Santorum: I talk about five areas where I allow deductions… one of them would be, be able to deduct losses from the sale of your home. Right now, you can’t do that. You have to pay gains, depending on the amount, but you can’t deduct the losses.
Ever trying to play the role of a blue collar populist, Santorum highlighted his idea to allow taxpayers to deduct losses from the sale of their home. He left out the fact that current law already allows an individual to exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains from the sale of a home. How could it be fair to exclude the gains but deduct the losses? He also ignores the fact that homeowners are already subsidized to the tune of $75 billion through the home mortgage interest deduction. A much more effective approach to helping struggling homeowners (and renters for that matter) would be for state lawmakers to enact strong property tax circuit breakers, which are better targeted to low-income households.
Representative Ron Paul: I would like to see income tax reduced to near zero as possible.
Although he has not laid out a specific long term tax plan, Paul has frequently called for the complete repeal of the 16th amendment (which allows the creation of the income tax) and might seek to replace it with a national sales or flat tax. He does not typically mention that such a plan would be extremely regressive no matter how you structure it.