Each of these candidates has proposed a huge tax cut plan. Trump's would cost $11.2 trillion including interest on the debt it'd create; Rubio's would cost $8.2 trillion, and Cruz's would cost $10.2 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Rubio would increase the federal debt (currently about 73 percent of GDP) by more than 28 percent of GDP over the course of a decade, and Trump and Cruz would increase it even more.
Here are a few charts that explain just how big — and how regressive — these proposed cuts are.
1) Donald Trump's tax cut is more than three times as big as George W. Bush's famously generous tax cuts
The cost of GOP contenders' plans is truly massive. In fact, if you compare their proposals with the proposed and enacted versions of George W. Bush's tax cuts, they are all at least twice as big relative to the size of the economy 1
I calculated two numbers for Bush: a prospective one and an actual one. The prospective one used the Joint Committee on Taxation's 2000 estimate for Bush's campaign proposal, which put the cost at $1.3205 trillion by FY2010. I then divided that by the projected FY2010 GDP from a contemporaneous CBO report . The actual one used the Congressional Research Service's aggregation of JCT scores of actual legislation to get the cuts' full cost through FY2011, as well as the actual GDP for that year, courtesy of OMB/BEA. You can see my calculations here.
2) The vast majority of that money will go to the richest 20 percent
Each of the plans focuses primarily on reducing the tax burden of the very richest Americans. Two-thirds of Trump's cuts — and even more of Cruz and Rubio's — would go to the richest fifth of American taxpayers, those individuals and couples making at least $142,601 in cash income a year:
And an astounding share goes to the richest 0.1 percent, those making at least $3.77 million a year. Trump's cut makes sure $1.6 trillion goes to people that rich — people like him.
By contrast a tiny, tiny fraction of the cuts goes to poorest fifth of taxpayers, making $23,099 or less. They would get only $66.5 billion over 10 years from the cut — a mere $128 per person.
That's right. Trump is proposing a tax plan that gives the richest 0.1 percent 24 times more than the poorest 20 percent, despite there being 200 times as many people in the latter group.
3) The dollar amounts the rich would get are simply staggering
Trump isn't offering the biggest cut for the rich, though. Ted Cruz wins that particular competition with an enormous average cut of $2 million for everyone in the top 0.1 percent:
Trump and Rubio still offer huge gains for the richest of the rich, though: $1.3 million and $930,000, respectively.
But Cruz stands apart, not just because he gives the average member of the top 0.1 percent a cut that's more than 43,000 times larger than the one he gives the bottom 20 percent, but because he'd actually leave some of the poorest Americans worse off.
While taxpayers making $10,000 or less a year — an even poorer group than the bottom 20 percent — do better under Rubio's plan and a tiny bit better under Trump's, Cruz would raise their taxes by $67 on average by enacting a 19 percent sales tax, which more than outweighs his other cuts.
4) The rich do best even when you look at straight percentages
Some people prefer to look at the percentage change in incomes caused by tax cuts, rather than the actual dollar amount that each group would get. This approach is somewhat more forgiving to plans that allocate the overwhelming majority of their cost to helping rich people. But the GOP contenders have proposed tax cuts that are disproportionately helpful to the rich even in percentage terms: