Editorial Board Calls For “Trumpian Pragmatism” On Corporate Taxes Even Though Journal’s Own Reporting Shows Experts Prefer Clinton On The Economy
Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH
The Wall Street Journal blasted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s plan to assess a tax on corporations that move overseas as “familiar class-warfare artillery” and claimed that what these supposedly overburdened American multinational corporations really deserve is "Trumpian pragmatism" in the form of massive tax cuts. The editorial, which promoted a number of discredited and misleading talking points to advocate for corporate tax cuts, was published just hours before the Journal reported on a survey of over 400 economists showing an overwhelming expert preference for Clinton’s economic policies.
In an August 21 editorial, the Journal attacked Clinton’s push to rein in corporate tax avoidance schemes as a means of “class warfare” and “the sort of thing banana republics impose when their economies sour.” Clinton’s plan would be to levy an “exit tax” on corporations that engage in a process called “tax inversion,” wherein an American multinational corporation acquires a foreign company and claims its taxable profits are now based outside the United States. Rather than imposing a tax on companies that try to skirt federal law -- and using the revenue to invest in critical infrastructure projects, as Clinton has suggested -- the Journal advocated for what it called “Trumpian Pragmatism”: slashing the corporate tax rate by more than half as a way to “deter inversions” and convince companies to relocate in the United States. From the August 21 edition of The Wall Street Journal:
The Democrat would impose what she calls an “exit tax” on businesses that relocate outside the U.S., which is the sort of thing banana republics impose when their economies sour. She’d conduct a census and then categorize any multinational with more than 50% U.S. ownership as a domestic concern that would be subject to a tax on its deferred profits if it inverts. She isn’t specifying the punitive tax rate.
Mr. Trump proposes to cut the U.S. corporate rate to 15% from 35% (or 40% counting average state rates). Fifteen percent is low enough to deter inversions while making the country more attractive to capital investment and better primed for higher wages. He would also offer a preferential rate of 10% for the $2 trillion already earned overseas.
Mrs. Clinton calls this tax-cutting for billionaires and corporate-jet owners, which shows how unhappy her Presidency could be. Such Trumpian pragmatism—10% of $2 trillion is better than 35% of $0—is the only realistic way for Mrs. Clinton to fund her infrastructure plan, and Republicans in Congress have sounded out Democrats for such a deal for years. President Obama has rebuffed their entreaties, settling for nothing—and now Mrs. Clinton is setting herself up for the same.
Despite the editorial board’s claims against Clinton, reporter Ben Leubsdorf actually reported in the Journal’s Real Time Economics blog on August 22 that business economists overwhelmingly prefer Clinton as the best candidate on the economy. According to a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) that Leubsdorf cites, 55 percent of the 414 economists surveyed believed Clinton “would do the best job of managing the economy” compared to just 14 percent who picked Republican nominee Donald Trump. (Trump registered less support in the survey than did Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, who garnered 15 percent.)
An independent economic analysis of Clinton’s plan from Moody’s Analytics found it would boost job creation by roughly 10 million jobs over four years -- over 3 million more jobs than would be gained by maintaining current economic policies. When Moody’s ran the same analysis of Trump’s tax plan, which the candidate has since revised, it found that his proposals were likely to stymie economic growth and job creation while increasing the debt and deficit, largely for the benefit of “very high-income households” like his own.
When CNNMoney correspondent Cristina Alesci and CNN analyst Ali Velshi compared Clinton's economic plan to Trump’s on the August 17 edition of CNN's Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, Alesci noted that Clinton's plan would largely benefit the middle class while Velshi reported that the lack of details in Trump's economic plan makes it "unclear ... who it actually helps and who it doesn't." Velshi added that experts believe parts of Trump's plan, including the child care tax deduction, are "designed for higher-income, more affluent families."
Trump’s tax plan would sharply reduce corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent and create three individual income tax brackets of 12, 25, and 33 percent. The Trump plan has been lambasted by economists as “nonsense,” and media fact-checkers ridiculed its “pathetic” lack of details. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman slammed Trump for promoting more of the “standard voodoo” economics frequently pushed by Republican supply-side advocates. Economic policy professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich blasted Trump and his economic advisor Stephen Moore for attempting to rebrand the “sheer lunacy” in Trump’s original tax plan into the “normal nonsense of supply-side, trickle-down economics.”
For its part, The Wall Street Journal is no stranger to pushing discredited “trickle-down” tax cuts, so the editorial board’s decision to embrace Trump’s implausible platform in the face of overwhelming evidence is no surprise.