Our tax policy has been used to promote home ownership, marriage, children, retirement savings and charitable contributions. It has been used to promote business investment and to favor certain industry sectors. President Trump's proposed tax plan pushes enormous cuts for the wealthy, while the rest of us are left to hold the bag.

The proposal, which Fortune magazine describes as "sparse," heavily favors those at the very top of the economic ladder. Look at his proposal to eliminate estate taxes. Of the 150 million or so tax returns filed this year, only about 5,200 will pay any estate taxes, to the tune of around $19.7 billion. Your dear departed had to be very wealthy indeed to send that much money to Uncle Sam. The Alternative Minimum Tax was put in place to 1969 to assure that 155 super-rich taxpayers couldn't use tax dodges to escape paying any income tax. Trump wants to do away with it. Why? I can give you 30 million reasons, one for each dollar the AMT required Trump to pay on more than $150 million. We know that because one of his old tax returns was leaked to the public. The average Carroll County resident paid a higher tax rate than the 20 percent alleged billionaire Trump did.

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It's very deceptive to say the United States' 35 percent corporate tax rate is the highest in the world: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out that the actual tax liability for American companies is around 27.9 percent, after factoring in tax credits and corporate welfare such as oil depletion allowances. This is very close to the rate European businesses pay, around 27.7 percent. The President claims that cutting the corporate tax rate from its nominal 35 percent to 15 percent will bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas. The last time Republicans tried that was in 1986. Did it bring jobs back? No. Our foreign competitors just lowered their business taxes. Reich estimates that Trump's proposed cuts would increase the Federal deficit by a minimum of $2 trillion to $4 trillion over the next 10 years. The Tax Policy Center figures the cost to run around $7 trillion in the first 10 years, and by 2036, it balloons to at least $20.7 trillion.

Trump thinks he can cover these enormous deficits by closing tax loopholes. But the loopholes built into the complicated tax code are tax breaks the government uses to stimulate investment and production; taking away those credits would just slow down economic growth. Speaking of loopholes, his proposal to tax pass-through income at 15 percent would benefit owners of private companies, people like Donald Trump. Essentially, they could pay themselves no salary and take all their income as business profits, taxed at the bargain-basement rate. As a side benefit, they'd pay nothing into Social Security. On the other hand, you and I would get to pay the higher wage-earner tax rate. The Wall Street Journal wondered if the pass-through tax cut is "Pro-Business or Pro-Scams." Sen. Orrin Hatch thinks that safeguards could be built into the law to prevent the kind of abuses Trump's scheme as presented would encourage. But even Hatch admits "There's nothing easy here." Hatch is right.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin raised considerable skepticism with his claim that the cuts will pay for themselves. Conservative economists like Maya MacGuinness of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said, "I don't want to see that this tax cut will be paid for by magic." Jared Bernstein of the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote, "This isn't tax reform that we're talking about; this is just tax cuts." He also challenged Mnuchin's optimistic estimate that Trump's cuts would result in the economy growing at a 3 percent rate, noting that tax cuts seldom pay for themselves.

Without deep budget cuts, Trump's plan would crater the economy. The cuts he proposed would especially hurt Maryland. The Appalachian Regional Commission, which works to strengthen the economies of our state's far western counties, and the Chesapeake Cleanup are on the chopping block. So are many federal jobs Carroll County's citizens hold. Freezes at Social Security and Center for Medicare/Medicaid will affect many of our pocketbooks. The administration's scorched earth tax plan has been tried and found wanting, as Kansas discovered. In 2012, that state enacted tax-cutting policies similar to Trump's proposals with disastrous results: slowed employment, greater debt, stifled growth — that is what Trump's plan offers us all.

Most of us know better than to base our budget on winning the lottery. Pity that Trump's economic team appears to be ignorant of that.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com.

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