Chris Christie, attempting to convince Republicans that his presidential campaign remains alive, has released his economic plan to “raise growth and incomes.” The centerpiece is to stimulate spending in the snack sector. Ha, not really — that would make more sense than Christie’s actual plan, which is to give rich people an enormous tax cut.
Of course, Christie does not describe his plan as an enormous tax cut for rich people. The first rule of cutting taxes for the rich is that you don’t talk about cutting taxes for the rich. Here is what Christie says instead. He proposes to reform the tax code, cut the top tax rate to 28 percent, and reduce the bottom tax rate to a “single digit,” while maintaining deductions for mortgages and charitable deductions.
Any plan that meets those specifications would necessarily give a huge tax cut for rich people. In 2012, the Tax Policy Center attempted to model a similar promise by Mitt Romney, to cut the top tax rate to 28 percent and the bottom tax rate to 8 percent. It found that the revenue gained by eliminating tax deductions for the rich does not add up to enough to offset the revenue lost by reducing tax rates for the rich. Indeed, Christie’s plan would be even more lucrative for affluent taxpayers than the TPC assumes. The Tax Policy Center’s hypothetical plan would eliminate the home-mortgage tax deduction, which is a huge and highly regressive deduction. Christie’s commitment to preserving it for first homes would make his proposal even more regressive.
If Christie’s tax plan were to avoid bleeding revenue, it would require a major effective tax increase on the middle class. Notably, Christie does not promise to hold revenue at current levels. Instead, he proposes, “the plan, combined with other measures I am proposing, is revenue-neutral and doesn’t materially increase the deficit.” Those other measures include cutting Medicaid and raising the Social Security retirement age, both of which would be highly regressive.
So the Christie economic plan is centered around a massive reduction in taxes for the rich combined with a massive reduction in benefits for the poor. Like every other Republican economic plan.