Ideas have consequences, which is why we are not just going to ignore President Donald Trumpâ€™s proposal for cutting the middle classâ€™s taxes by 10 percent, on top of the tax cuts already delivered by the $1.2 trillion 2017 plan he and the Republican Congress enacted.
As is often the case with Trumpâ€™s policy utterances, this one appears improvised, blurted outto reporters in Nevada and repeated amid a campaign rally in Texas.
Yet he has insisted on it, claiming Tuesday that â€śweâ€™re putting in a resolution probably this week,â€ť notwithstanding the fact that Congress is not in session.
And in keeping with his partyâ€™s general strategy of enabling the president, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, issued a statement claiming that â€śover the coming weeksâ€ť the GOP will come up with actual legislation. â€śTake him seriously,â€ť added National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow.
OK: Taken seriously, this is a deeply irresponsible idea.
Defined as the middle fifth of the income distribution scale, the middle class does not need more income tax cuts.
According to a 2016 Congressional Budget Office study (based on data compiled before the 2017 tax law), households in that stratum received about 14 percent of total before-tax income and paid about 9 percent of federal taxes.
Trumpâ€™s idea would be slightly less reckless if it were true.
Heâ€™s attempting a cheap political trick near the end of a midterm campaign in which middle-class voters have not responded well to the 2017 tax cuts, partly because those did favor the wealthy and businesses.
The truth is that the United States needs a long-term plan for fiscal sustainability that would probably require middle-class Americans to pay a bit more for the government services they evidently want and need.
Telling the truth, though, is not Trumpâ€™s strong suit.