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The GOP tax plan is ridiculous. Here's why.

Catherine Rampell on

"We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle," he explained.

Uh-huh.

A Tax Policy Center estimate of the fuzzy April framework found that it would lower revenue between $3.5 trillion and $7.8 trillion over a decade, depending on which loopholes you assume get closed. Its numbers don't change much after accounting for economic growth effects.

A separate estimate of the more recent framework, released by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, put the cost at about $2.2 trillion.

Whatever the actual number is, we know it's in the trillions. No realistic amount of growth is going to wipe that out.

In light of all these grand growth projections, I propose a corollary to my earlier rule.

Here it is: If you promise that your policy will "pay for itself" through faster economic growth, you must commit -- in advance -- to cutting the programs you love most if that growth doesn't materialize.

For Republicans, that means writing language into their tax bill lopping trillions off defense spending. Hey, if they truly believe their plan won't cost a dime, surely there's no risk to our national security.

Otherwise, the yawning deficits that would inevitably result from the Trump plan may turn into an excuse to decimate programs Republicans are already eyeing, such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Kansas provides a cautionary tale here. The state passed sweeping tax cuts in 2012 on promises that they would unleash boundless economic growth. Instead, the state had below-average growth and huge budget shortfalls, which led to brutal cuts to services. School districts had to end the school year early.

Eventually, after coming to terms with the failure of their supply-side experiment, the state partially reversed its disastrous tax cuts.

Which may be where the country ends up in a few years, if this Trump tax framework passes. But as Kansas proves, a lot of damage -- including, in the federal case, bigger debt -- can be done in the meantime.

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Catherine Rampell's email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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