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Top of the Ticket Political commentary from David Horsey

Grifter Trump sells tax cuts for the rich as a great deal for workers

Donald Trump is a salesman who has never let truth get in the way of peddling a product. As president, he tried unsuccessfully to sell various schemes to repeal and replace Obamacare by using the same technique he used to sell the bogus curriculum of Trump University: make outlandish claims of value and quality that are nowhere close to the truth.

Now he is applying the same approach to tax reform. Trump states boldly that the Republican plan to cut taxes will bolster the sagging fortunes of the middle class and working Americans while pushing rich people and corporations to provide more jobs, repatriate profits and even pay more taxes. This is the biggest fib since he promised that his healthcare fix would guarantee every American more medical coverage for less money.

To the extent the sketchy scheme can be accurately assessed, the GOP tax reform proposal that Trump is trying to sell will do precisely the opposite of what he says it will do.

It will give a massive tax windfall to corporate executives, hedge fund managers, real estate tycoons and many others among the fabulously wealthy top 1% of Americans.

It will provide a nice tax break for folks earning more than $418,000 by dropping the top income tax rate from 39.6% to 35%.

It will eliminate the estate tax for the tiny percentage of citizens who are lucky enough to die in possession of assets that exceed $5.49 million.

It will cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% while allowing companies to pay a discounted tax when bringing home profits parked in overseas subsidiaries.

The result of these generous tax reductions for millionaires and billionaires would be trillions of dollars added to the national debt.

What the Republican tax plan would not do is provide much, if any, tax relief for average taxpayers or for small businesses. In fact, some middle-class people would end up paying more because many itemized deductions, such as the one for state taxes, would be eliminated. There is very little likelihood that companies receiving tax breaks would start hiring new workers. Those companies can be expected to do what they have already been doing with their profits: share some of the new money with stockholders while banking the rest.

Far from being the populist champion of the little guy he pretended to be during his presidential campaign, Trump is no more than a double-talking front man for the Republicans’ serve-the-rich political machine.

Like a grifter running a shell game in Times Square, Trump relies on the gullibility of strangers, and about a third of Americans continue to fall for his pitch. Luckily, as his dismal record of legislative accomplishments indicates, he is not actually as convincing as he likes to think. Unless there are millions of new dupes to be found, this new tax swindle may not survive Trump’s ridiculously obvious inability to tell the truth.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter

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