On Sunday, President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos to defend the administration’s tax reform plan.
As Vox’s Dylan Matthews reported this week, the tax plan would deliver the largest benefits to the top 1 and 0.1 percent of households in America, according to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
The richest 1 percent — households making at least $732,800 — would get an average tax cut of $129,030, the analysis finds. For the typical one-percenter (who earns much more than $732,800), that means 8.5 percent more income after taxes. The richest 0.1 percent, earning at least $3.4 million a year, would get $722,510 back on average, for a 10.2 percent average boost in after-tax income.
By contrast, the middle class (households earning $48,600 to $86,100 a year) would get $660 back, a 1.2 percent income boost. The poorest fifth of Americans, earning $25,000 or less, would only get $60, a 0.5 percent increase.
But this is not the story Mnuchin told to Stephanopoulos. When asked if he could guarantee that the president won’t get a tax cut under his own plan, Mnuchin responded:
As I’ve said all along, the objective of the president is that rich people don’t get tax cuts, and we’re perfectly comfortable explaining to the American people how that works and we’ll give plenty of examples.
Asked again about Trump receiving a tax cut, Mnuchin dodged, saying, “I can’t comment on what the president will do or won’t do on that.”
But the next guest on This Week was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who delivered a stinging rebuttal:
Everything he [Mnuchin] said is dead wrong. … They are repealing the estate tax. The estate tax only applies to the top two-tenths of 1 percent — millionaires and billionaires, like the Walton family of Walmart, like the Koch Brothers, like the Trump family. $269 billion in tax breaks for the top two-tenths of 1 percent over the next 10 years. And this is not a tax break for the rich? Well, I don’t know what a tax break for the rich is.
Moving forward, the debate about Trump’s tax plan will likely orbit around the administration’s promise, at least according to one senior official, to offer a system that is as progressive as the current one but that doesn’t “shift the burden from higher-income to lower-income households.” According to most tax experts, however, that seems highly unlikely.
For more on the Republican tax plan, read Vox’s explainer.