We crunched the numbers on Monica Wehby’s tax plan, and it’s no wonder she’s hoping voters will just forget it even exists.
Over the past week, Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby has been taking heat for her campaign’s tax plan. Critics have been pointing out that her “plan” is a massive giveaway to big corporations and the very wealthy—with no hint as to how she could possibly make up for the trillions of dollars of revenue lost through tax cuts.
For her part, Wehby has refused to even defend her plan. Her handlers have responded to media inquiries with vague, unsupported attacks on Sen. Jeff Merkley, prompting responses from the press that are somewhere between bemusement and incredulity.
Wehby’s plan is heavy on Republican rhetoric, but light on specifics. One concrete idea she floats, however, is even more extreme than the plan floated by Mitt Romney in 2012. In a campaign email from April, Wehby suggested “reducing corporate and individual tax rates to 25%” to stimulate the economy—a typical trickle-down economic policy that’s been discredited since the ’80s.
We decided to analyze just the personal income tax side of this proposal, leaving aside, for now, the impact of cutting corporate taxes. What we found is even more alarming than we originally thought.
First, the technical stuff. To get a sense of who would benefit from Wehby’s tax cut, we looked at IRS income tax tables from 2011, the last year for which full numbers are available.
Based on 2011 figures, here’s what we found:
• Wehby’s tax plan would cost the federal government at least $107 billion—and likely much more—every single year. Wehby has offered no plan on what programs she would slash in order to pay for those tax cuts.
• For married couples filing joint returns, you’d have to make more than $148,851 a year to get relief from Wehby’s tax cut. If your family makes less than that, you get bupkis.
• The vast majority of this tax cut would benefit not just the wealthy, or the very wealthy, but the very, very, very wealthy. More than 85% of Wehby’s tax cut would go to the richest 1%, with most of that going to filers making more than $1 million a year.
• In fact, $91 billion of this tax cut would go directly to the richest 1%.
• Of that amount, $19 billion would go just to the richest 1% of the richest 1%–filers making more than $10 million per year.
• Working families bringing in less than $150,000 per year? They get no benefit from Wehby’s tax giveaway. Instead, they’re the families who will be shouldering the cuts to federal programs required by Wehby’s tax cuts.
Keep in mind that these estimates are conservative, as the gap between the very wealthy and everyone else has continued to grow since 2011. If 2013 or 2014 data were available for analysis, we’d conclude Wehby wants to give away even more in tax breaks to the wealthy.
Also keep in mind that the federal tax system is already designed to benefit the ultra-wealthy. The tax rate on capital gains—which is where the richest 1% get most of their income—is already much lower than the tax rate on earned income. Wehby’s plan would skew the system even further in favor of those at the very top.
There’s no other way to see this than as a massive giveaway to the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else. When it comes right down to it, Wehby’s proposal looks a lot less like a serious economic policy, and more like a plea for donations from hedge fund billionaires.
Stay tuned for an analysis on Wehby’s plan to cut taxes for the nation’s largest corporations.