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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/14/11

Newt's Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes

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Newt Gingrich has done it again. With his new tax plan he has raised the bar from simply irresponsible to wildly reckless.

Every dollar estimate I'm about to share with you comes from the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center -- a group whose estimates are used by almost everyone on Washington regardless of political persuasion.

First off, Newt's plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion -- in a single year!

To put this in perspective, most forecasts of the budget deficit cover 10 years. The elusive goal of the White House and many on both sides of the aisle in Congress is to reduce that 10-year deficit by 3 to 4 trillion dollars.

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Newt goes in the other direction, with gusto. Increasing the deficit by $850 billion in a single year is beyond the wildest imaginings of the least responsible budget mavens within a radius of 3,000 miles from Washington.

Imagine what Standard & Poor's or Moody's or Fitch would do if it became law. We'd go directly from a triple-A credit rating to triple X -- the veritable porn site of fiscal mayhem. Interest on our debt would become larger than most of the rest of the budget.

Most of this explosion of debt in Newt's plan occurs because he slashes taxes. But not just anyone's taxes. The lion's share of Newt's tax cuts benefit the very, very rich.

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That's because he lowers their marginal income tax rate to 15 percent -- down from the current 35 percent, which was Bush's temporary tax cut; down from 39 percent under Bill Clinton; down from at least 70 percent in the first three decades after World War II. Newt also gets rid of taxes on unearned income -- the kind of income that the super-rich thrive on -- capital-gains, dividends, and interest.

Under Newt's plan, each of the roughly 130,000 taxpayers in the top .1 percent -- the richest one-tenth of one percent -- reaps an average tax cut of $1.9 million per year. Add what they'd otherwise have to pay if the Bush tax cut expired on schedule, and each of them saves $2.3 million a year.

To put it another way, under Newt's plan, the total tax bill of the top one-tenth of one percent drops from around 38 percent of their income to around 10 percent.

What about low-income households? They get an average tax cut of $63 per year.

Oh, I almost forgot: Newt also slashes corporate taxes.

I'm not making this up.

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This might be amusing if Newt were just being old Newt -- if this were another infamous hot-air bubble emerging from an always provocative, sometimes clever, often bizarre mind.

But it's the tax plan of the leading candidate for president of one of the two major political parties of the United States.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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