The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Lester Holt, the moderator for tonight’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, announced the debate’s topics last week: America’s direction, achieving prosperity, and securing America.
Taxes could fit in at least the first two categories. So, Lester, if you’re still cramming for the big night, here are five questions the Tax Policy Center would love you to ask —two for Clinton, two for Trump, and one for both.
1. Secretary Clinton, do you see any downside to increasing taxes only on the rich? You have proposed a series of tax hikes on high-income earners to pay for nearly all of your policy initiatives. Are you concerned that sharply higher taxes on investment income will discourage investment and reduce economic growth?
2. Mr. Trump, how specifically would you pay for your tax cuts? Independent estimates of your plan find it would add trillions of dollars to the federal debt over the next decade, even when accounting for macroeconomic effects. You say you will not reduce spending on Medicare or Social Security, promise to increase military spending, and vow to balance the budget. Exactly how would you accomplish these apparently inconsistent goals?
3. Secretary Clinton, would you pursue tax reform as president? You have proposed numerous changes to the tax code but have said nothing about tax reform. In fact, many of your proposals would make the current code more complex. Do you think we should simplify the tax code for individuals? What about cutting tax rates for businesses? How would you accomplish those goals?
4. Mr. Trump, why did you change your mind on raising the standard deduction? Last year, you proposed to quadruple the standard deduction, which would have cut the number of itemizers by about 90 percent, a great simplification. Your latest tax plan would set a much lower standard deduction and eliminate personal exemptions, which would raise taxes on many families.
5. To both candidates, which of your opponent’s tax ideas could you support? We understand you could not be further apart on tax policy. But this campaign actually produced a lot of interesting and ambitious tax ideas—from all ideological angles. So which of your opponent’s idea could you get behind?
Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.
A stand-in for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen in a television camera monitor as preparations continue Sunday Sept. 25, 2106 for the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)