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Politics

Republicans have only one idea. And Trump's pitch for it is a doozy.

Catherine Rampell on

WASHINGTON -- Republicans have one idea and one idea only: That we should cut taxes for the rich. The only thing that changes is the sales pitch.

And the latest pitch, offered by President Trump on Wednesday, is a bit of a doozy.

Back around 2012, when Mitt Romney was running for president, the pitch was that we wanted to encourage "job creators" (i.e., rich people) to work harder. Their taxes were so high that it simply wasn't worth it for them to put in that marginal hour at the office, or to build that additional business.

The payoff would be too low, particularly relative to how much money they'd already accumulated. Why bother putting in the extra effort, even if that extra effort might create a job or higher wages for someone else?

Romney was a suitable spokesperson for this argument. He was, after all, a successful businessman who had built and grown lots of companies. He could make a credible case that if people like him were given the choice between working an extra hour and spending that hour golfing, the economy might benefit if he chose the office.

Today, of course, Trump can't make the same argument with a straight face.

He and his plutocratic entourage have illustrated how many rich people add somewhere between zero and negative value to the world around them when they spend additional time "working."

The more hours Betsy DeVos, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. devote to golfing and vacationing, the better. They'd do less damage that way.

A slightly different trickle-down pitch (one Romney, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and other prominent Republicans have also made) has to do with capital formation.

If corporate income taxes and capital gains taxes fell, then shareholders would get to keep a higher portion of corporate profits. That means investors might be willing to offer more capital to businesses, and thereby help them expand -- which could grow jobs and wages.

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