In a Fox News appearance Monday night discussing Donald Trump’s economic plan, I pointed out that Trump’s proposals would cut his own taxes by billions of dollars, prompting interviewer Eric Bolling to ask me whether I really believed that Donald Trump designed his economic plan just so that he could pay less in taxes himself. I didn’t respond directly there, so I am taking the opportunity to clear the record: yes, Eric, I do.
Consider what Trump himself said last January: “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get, I’m so greedy.” Well, sure enough, the tax plan that Mr. Trump outlined would allow him to grab a lot more money. His proposal to eliminate the estate tax alone could eventually save his family $4 billion given his (admittedly laughable) claim to be worth $10 billion. While his refusal to release tax returns makes it impossible to say with any precision how much more he would also save in income taxes, his plan to limit the tax rate on “small” businesses to 15 percent suggests additional annual savings at least in the tens of millions.
Trump claims that his plan will eliminate “special interest loopholes that have been so good for... people like me,” but the only loophole he specifically mentions, known as “carried interest,” does not affect his taxes at all. In any case, it is very clear that the overall effect of his plan will be to lower taxes for people like Trump far more than it will for American workers. For this reason, I think it essential that Trump release his own tax returns, allowing American voters to judge for themselves how fair his plan is.
During my Fox interview, Bolling argued that it was inappropriate for me to focus on how the tax plan would affect Donald Trump rather than its effect on the overall economy. I disagree. Trump likes to attack “special interests” while claiming that his “only interest is the American people,” but by Trump’s own admission, he has spent his whole life caring about one particular special interest: himself.
So while Trump has promised to provide more details about how his plan will help “you and your family,” I think he needs to start by explaining why he believes that enriching his own family by billions of dollars will help the average American worker.
Patriotic Millionaire Eric Schoenberg is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Wharton School of Business & Chairman of the Board, CampusWorks