Quick comparison of Trump and Clinton Tax Proposals

The Urban-Brookings Tax Center has provided two excellent comparative write-ups on the two proposed tax plans of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I will provide the links below. They also used three tax experts, whose credentials are noted below, that grade the two proposals on four key factors. Those factors and the average of these grades is noted below:

Factor                          Trump      Clinton

Legislative Feasibility         D                C

Economic Growth             C-               D+

Fiscal Responsibility          D-               B-

Impact on Tax Payers        D+              B-

Overall Average*                D+             C+

*My composite calculation using a four point scale (A = 4, B = 3, etc.) with 0.3 modifier for +/ – like colleges do in grading. Note, the articles did the composites of each factor.

The Urban-Brookings Tax Center found that the Trump plan was disproportionately beneficial to the wealthy, and would greatly increase the national debt.

“His proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households,” the TPC analysis found. “The plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over its first decade before accounting for added interest costs or considering macroeconomic feedback effects. The plan would improve incentives to work, save, and invest. However, unless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts.”

“Looking at economic growth, Wiiliam Gale (see below) said that the Clinton plan “will probably be close to a wash in terms of economic growth over the medium term.” Gale also said that the increase in tax rates might hurt growth in the short-term. But he said that a reduction in debt under the plan “should help growth in the long-term.” However, the Tax Policy Center analysis of Clinton’s plan used by Gale doesn’t address Clinton’s long-term spending proposals and the effect they might have in raising the long-term debt.”

This is consistent with the measurement of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation that showed Trump’s plan would increase the $19 Trillion debt over the next ten years by approximately $12 Trillion. Clinton’s plan would reduce the debt over the next ten years by about $500 Billion. In my view, neither of these numbers is enough to reduce the debt, but at least Clinton’s is in the right direction.

Truth be told, there are not enough spending cuts to make up for Trump’s increase in debt and we need serious discussion on reducing the debt from both. And, per the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan and ideas shared by Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition, we will need both revenue increases and spending cuts. To say otherwise, is misleading the American people.





The Fiscal Times convened a panel of experts in tax and fiscal policy to analyze the Clinton and Trump tax plans. Details of each plan were reviewed by three well-respected policy experts: William G. Gale, the Arjay and Francis Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Tax Policy Center; Doug Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and a former Congressional Budget Office Director; and G. William Hoagland, a vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican Senate budget official.


25 thoughts on “Quick comparison of Trump and Clinton Tax Proposals

    • Hugh, I agree. To me, what this shows is on top of all the other reasons that he lacks veracity as a candidate, the thing he touts – his financial acumen – is not apparent in this tax proposal. Increasing the debt by 60% over ten years is not good stewardship.

  1. Note to Readers: I noticed in reading this post on my I-phone, the columns scrolled poorly. The first column is Trump’s ratings (D+) while the second column is Clinton’s (C+). I will try to fix this when I return home.

  2. There is not so much difference between the two… but anyway….. let’s hope for a female president! Last weekend there was the election of the president in Austria. It is crazy, but the two candidates are 50/50 after counting the votes. We all fear that the right-winged candidate makes it. We still hope that the absentee votings will make the difference in favor of the other candidate.

    • Erika, the debt increase under Trump’s proposal, to me, shows an incredible lack of stewardship. And, he is supposed to be the one with financial acumen. I do hope Clinton wins as she has more far more experience, is less inclined to endanger the country and has a better temperament. She is also far tougher than Trump, who can dish it, but cannot handle criticism.

  3. It would have been nice to feel better about Clinton’s plan, but she is the only pony I can ride in this race.
    Its a nice way to look at the various parameters of the plans. Simpler to understand.
    I wish it was these sorts of thing that were the viral memes.

    • I think that makes the review more honest to show the pros and cons of both. Please note my response to Erika’s comments. This was supposed to be Trump’s strength, yet he gets a D+. I actually think it oversells his proposal, as if the debt increases that much, all bets are off and we will need major gutting of defense, Medicare, Social Security, etc. I also found that giving the wealthy more tax breaks is consistent with previous GOP rhetoric, so that is not being much of a maverick. His fans need to know that.

      On Clinton, her proposal would raise some revenue, but we need major change and a lot of political courage, but from someone who is thinking about the impact on those impoverished. I have shared some of the debt reduction examples from Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition, especially the misconceptions, including we can cut our way out of this problem. But, the next President and Congress will have to deal with these issues.

  4. There are a couple of right-wing economists who described Trump’s economic plans as disasters when their preferred candidates were still in the race. Now all of a sudden when Trump is the last one standing, he is an economic genius who will save the country.

    • Janis, there has been a lot of nose holding around supporting this candidate. As noted to other commenters, this was supposed to be his strength, yet he rates a D+. We must deal with this debt problem. He says he will get rid of it in eight years, but that is nigh impossible with this tax plan. But, Clinton need to step up as well.

  5. I love the idea of simple letter-grades for comparing politicians. And when you add in the relative objectivity of these comparisons, it really helps to get an idea what these two might do. Sad, though, that our two choices are each such poor ones (C+ vs. D+).

    • Thanks Susan. It would be nice to see objective grades on various topics. This was supposed to be the area where Trump noted he would excel. He said “No one knows taxes like I do in the history of our country.” This might be an exaggeration.

  6. Excellent breakdown of the two nominees Tax proposals. I am Canadian and reside in Canada and I have to say we have been watching this election in horror… what do you think the chances of Trump are realistically? and I am curious to know… why you think Trump has made it as far as he has (minus the whole anti-establishment/ politician bit).

    • Thanks. Your parenthetical is part of it, but the man’s greatest skill is salesmanship. His business skills are in question based on many bad decisions and bankruptcies, but he can sell. The fact this narcissist has portrayed himself as the champion of the common man, when his history is one of exploiting people for money is beyond me. His GOP opponents chose not to call him on the carpet, because they were scared of him. That was a poor decision as they gave him more credibility than he deserves as a candidate. Right now, Bernie Sanders fans are upset, so they are not voting for Hillary Clinton, yet what they do not realize is the alternative is very poor for us and the world. Clinton is experienced, has the better temperament, knows the issues and is tougher than Trump, who belies his lack of toughness with a false bravado. His chances remain good if the Dems do not support their candidate and/ or don’t vote.

      • Well said. But the media must share some of the blame as well. They record every word that spills forth from the mouth of Trump while ignoring altogether the successes of Bernie Sanders. The corporations (which own the media) do not want Sanders and I suspect they are perfectly happy with Trump. They carry a great deal of weight and can mold the political clay whichever way they want.

      • Hugh, the man understands how to manipulate the media whose attention span is 24 hours. If bad news occurs, he replaces it quickly getting them to react. But, the man still said or did the bad thing. He has gotten away with so much and these so called tough questions are too few and far between. Yet, his Achilles Heel is his thin skin. He reacted poorly to Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeting she was sick because of his racism, bigotry and xenophobia. His GOP opponents punted their opportunity – early on they should of vilified him for his hateful words and that is not indicative of a leader of our country. I have been repeating something I believe and that is Clinton is tougher than he is, so if the going gets tough, I would rather have her at the reins. Keith

      • Indeed, he was roasted the other night and was furious. He lacks a sense of humor and takes himself very seriously. That, coupled with his thin skin, marks him as a marginal madman. I quoted a Scotsman recently who worked with Trump who said that America must choose between sanity and insanity. That’s not an exaggeration.

      • Interesting comment from the Scot. You recall he unsuccessfully sued the Scottish government to prevent windmills from being built offshore visible from his golf course. One guy refused to sell his land and when Trump made an ass out of himself, the man built his own windmill adjacent to the course. By the way, there is an interesting article where Trump’s business persona has filed a request for approval for building a wall to hold back the sea in Ireland citing the impact of climate change. This runs counter to his candidate schtick that global warming is a hoax and is evidence of his awareness that he is lying. I find the awareness of lying as troubling as the lying, which shows he is Machiavellian.

      • Thanks for the very detailed and informative response. I agree with you on Trump and his salesmanship. He has undoubtedly always been a narcissist even prior to him running for president and this all “seemed” to be common knowledge (or so I thought). That’s why it’s rather shocking to see how far he has made it and that begs the question…. who are the Trump supporters? What demographic are they? And why or rather how have they missed the mark?! I don’t necessarily trust the polls or what the media is saying about Trump voters. So I would be curious to know who is voting for Trump and why have they failed to see all of the points you have mentioned above.

        As for Hilary Clinton, if I were in the United States and could vote she would most certainly get my support. I think every candidate has their flaws but like you said she has the most experience and knowledge on how to run a country. With that said, I also see why there would be some hesitation in voting for her, in many of her interviews, she does come off scripted and fake (but I think that’s just the politician training). If I were Hillary, regardless of the backlash that could arise, I would bring out Bill Clinton to every single promotional event. Bill Clinton years were some of the best years the US ever had and as her VP he should be there to support and remind people that a vote for Hillary could ultimately mean a vote for Bill Clinton as well.

      • Good comments. She should indeed bring out Bill, on whose watch the most jobs were created by any president, who balanced the budget and where economic success occurred. Hillary is not perfect, but she has had to stiff arm the toughest criticism. As the first female candidate who may win the nomination, she has to fight battles others do not. I think most folks viewed Trump as a laughable contender until others listened to his bumper sticker speeches and slogans. Now, he is given far more cache than he deserves as a candidate. The only leader who wants him to win is Vladimir Putin, as he knows he can use Trump’s thin-skin and ego for Russia’s gain.

  7. Note to Readers: As mentioned in an earlier post, Trump has said he plans to eliminate the debt in eight years. A quick math exercise shows this to be impossible with his tax plan. Adding the current debt of $19 Trillion with the debt increase over ten years of $12 Trillion yields $31 Trillion. Our budget is about $4 Trillion per annum. Ignoring interest, if we spent nothing at all firing all federal employees and our soldiers and eliminating all programs that would yield 8 x $4 Trillion or $32 Trillion. Then there is the interest and those other needed services. What frustrates me is this is supposed to be where this candidate offers more experience, but that apparently does not add up.

    • Yes, but note how “catchy” it sounds to eager ears to hear “I will eliminate the national debt in eight years!” The man is big on platitudes and generalities and tiny on specifics. But how many bother to think about what he says!!??

      • You are correct. I saw a poll result that people rate DT 2% better on handling taxes. This runs counter to that.

  8. When you speak statistics I get lost. But it is clear to see their averages aren’t that great. In economic growth won’t they have the same grade? A C+ and a D- equals about the same, right?

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