Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross popped by CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday morning to confirm that President-elect Donald Trump had selected them to serve as his secretaries of Treasury and Commerce, respectively, and in the process they managed to make a little bit of news. Apparently, the Trump administration isn’t planning to cut taxes on the rich. Who knew!?
“Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” Mnuchin said.
These comments rather sharply contradict what we know about Donald Trump’s actual written tax plan, which according to every outside analysis so far would absolutely lavish large cuts on America’s top 1 percent. The center-left Tax Policy Center says says so. The conservative Tax Foundation says so. It’s simply not much of a debate. As it stands, Trump’s plan does not limit deductions nearly enough to make up for his cuts elsewhere in the code. It’s not clear if he even could.
Now, it is safe to say that Mnuchin has read his boss’ tax plan. He even helped shape it. According to Bloomberg, he “took particular interest in tax policy” during the campaign and “argued that Trump’s tax plan should cut the top marginal rate to 33 percent, prevailing over other Trump advisers who had advocated for even lower figures.” So that leaves us with a few possibilities about what’s going on here.
- Mnuchin could be announcing a new course for the Trump administration’s tax policy. Which seems unlikely.
- Mnuchin hasn’t bothered reading any of the outside analyses of Trump’s proposal. Which seems unlikely.
- Mnuchin has read some of the outside analyses of Trump’s proposal but for some reason doesn’t believe them. Which seems unlikely.
- Mnuchin is just spouting off an empty promise and, in fact, President Donald J. Trump will eventually sign a large tax reduction for Goldman bankers and real estate developers, like the people populating his administration. Which seems likely.