Pawlenty's super-rich tax cuts

@CNNMoney June 17, 2011: 9:28 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hey rich folks, Tim Pawlenty wants to cut your taxes. A lot.

Under the terms of his recently revealed economic plan, Americans in the top 20% of earners would see their taxes cut by an average of $23,500, an 8.6 percentage point drop in their tax rate, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

And the top 1% would get an annual average reduction of $261,000, a 14.8 percentage point drop.

Meanwhile, Americans in the lowest 20% of income would see their taxes drop by an average of only $23, a 0.2 percentage point change in their tax rate.

Put another way, Americans who earn between $40,000 and $50,000 a year will see their after-tax income increase by 1.7%, while Americans who earn more than $1 million will see a 24.1% bump.

Under Pawlenty's plan, taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and estates would all be eliminated. Individuals would pay a 10% tax rate on their first $50,000 in income and 25% on all additional earnings.

If you thought the Bush tax cuts were big, Pawlenty's are on steroids.

"This is taking the Bush policy and doubling down, and maybe even doubling down again," said Joe Rosenberg, a researcher at the Tax Policy Center. "It's really quite dramatic."

Add in Pawlenty's corporate tax plan, and all that cutting means the federal government will bring in almost $7.6 trillion less in revenue over ten years.

For a government that already spends far more than it brings in, that spells trouble, according to Rosenberg, who said revenue would end up around 13.5% of GDP, far below historical norms.

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"The revenue yield makes it an implausible tax system to implement," Rosenberg said.

In a statement to CNNMoney, Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said that the tax side of the proposal should not be scored without considering the potential economic growth that would accompany the cuts.

To help make up for the lost revenue, Pawlenty's plan relies on sustained GDP growth of 5% -- a feat rarely accomplished -- to bring in an additional $3.8 trillion in revenue over ten years.

But that will only cover half the lost tax revenue. Of course, Pawlenty also wants dramatic cuts to spending.

As president, he would ask Congress to grant him emergency authority to freeze spending at current levels, and then impound up to 5% of federal spending until the budget is balanced.

Earlier this week, Pawlenty defended his bullish economic plan during the CNN debate in New Hampshire.

"This idea that we can't have 5% growth in America is hogwash. It's a defeatist attitude. If China can have 5% growth and Brazil can have 5% growth, then the United States of America can have 5% growth," Pawlenty said. To top of page

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