In response to a piece in the Washington Post examining the benefits Donald Trump’s tax plan would confer on the wealthiest, Bernie Sanders remarked on Twitter, “Donald Trump is only looking out for himself and his billionaire friends? Not surprised.”
This comment set off a string of tweets in which Sanders ripped Trump for benefiting from the same trade policies he is now condemning as a presidential candidate.
In this series of tweets, Sanders essentially reiterated an argument that he made on the debate stage in December of last year, as Time reported: Trump, he argues, is cynically exploiting the real economic anxieties of millions and using them to stoke racial resentment and xenophobia.
“Somebody like a Trump comes along and says: ‘I know the answers! The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists. We gotta hate the Mexicans, those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims, because all the Muslims are terrorists, we gotta hate the Muslims.’ Meanwhile the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” Sanders said.
Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Bernie Sanders offered an alternative to Trump’s bigotry and fear-mongering. During the same debate last year, Sanders said, “I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let’s create a country that works for all of us, not the handful on top.”
As much as Trump attempts to posture as a fighter for the average American, he is only out for himself and his class, Sanders has argued, and he has often played a major role in worsening the problems he now claims only he can solve.
“Donald says he will ‘fix’ trade,” Sanders tweeted on Friday. “He can start by shutting down his own sweatshops in Bangladesh and pay workers in the U.S. a living wage.”
Many commentators have made loose comparisons between the appeal of Trump and Sanders among many working class Americans who feel that they have been left behind in a globalized economic age. Sanders, like Trump, ripped trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But Trump, Sanders argues, is merely playing on the increasingly common and crippling economic anxieties experienced by millions; he is not offering an alternative that would fundamentally alter their circumstances.
This is made clear, Sanders notes, by his tax policies.
“Trump’s plan to repeal the estate tax alone would give a $269 billion tax break over a 10-year period to the top two-tenths of 1 percent,” Sanders wrote. “In total, Trump wants to provide a $3 trillion tax cut to Americans who make over $1 million a year.”
An analysis by the Washington Post largely confirms the notion that Trump’s tax plan would be a boon for the wealthiest Americans and Trump’s own companies.
“Trump’s plan would dramatically reduce taxes on what is known in tax circles as ‘pass-through’ entities, which do not pay corporate income taxes, but whose owners are taxed at individual rates on their share of profits. Those entities are the most common structure for small businesses and increasingly popular for larger ones as well. They are also a cornerstone of the Trump Organization. On his 2015 presidential financial disclosure report, Trump listed holdings of more than 200 limited liability corporations, which is a form of pass-through.”
Trump’s approach to the economy, the Post’s Jim Tankersley goes on to note, relies on the notion that tax cuts at the top will spur growth and “generate enough new investment and business activity to make up for most or all of the reduced tax revenues.”
“Independent analysts have not agreed with that assessment,” Tankersley writes. “The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan group that typically favors tax cuts, previously estimated that a version of Trump’s tax plan, including business and personal tax changes, would reduce revenues by $10 trillion over a decade, even after factoring in faster growth.”
But as Sanders observed, none of this should be surprising.
“Why would we even expect Trump to come up with a serious plan to fix a rigged economy? He’s the one who rigged it.”
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]