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A Republican finally reveals the truth about the GOP tax cuts

Catherine Rampell on

Breaking: A Republican accidentally told the truth about tax cuts.

Almost. At least if you count Rep. Kevin Brady's (Tex.) recent equivocation about whether the GOP tax overhaul will really pay for itself.

Way back in the first year of President Trump's administration, Republicans made a bunch of promises about their tax law, nearly all of which they've broken at this point.

They promised that the tax cuts would help the middle class more than the rich (false). At one point, they even promised that the rich wouldn't benefit at all (hilariously false). And they promised the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as it was known, would permanently turbocharge economic and wage growth, through turbocharged capital investment (so far, also apparently false).

Finally, there was the promise that, thanks to all that turbocharging, the tax overhaul wouldn't cost Uncle Sam a dime. Some, including Brady, even sometimes claimed the law would increase tax revenue and reduce deficits.

Never mind that every independent forecaster -- including the Penn-Wharton Budget Model, Tax Policy Center, Tax Foundation and Wall Street economic analysts -- said no, the law would definitely increase deficits. Congress' own neutral internal scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office, estimated that even after accounting for macroeconomic effects, the tax overhaul would add $1.9 trillion in red ink.

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Republicans still swore up and down that their tax plan would be fully paid for.

"If I thought that this would exacerbate the deficit, I would not support it," declared the supposed budget hawk Jeb Hensarling, then a Republican congressman from Texas, as the bill was being jammed through in late 2017.

"We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle," echoed Gary Cohn, then Trump's National Economic Council director.

"The tax cut has paid for itself already barely through the first calendar year," Cohn's successor, Larry Kudlow, incorrectly claimed the following year.

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