Pence Ignores Reports that Trump’s Tax Cuts Benefitted the Wealthiest Americans

Sen. Kamala Harris reminded Americans that Trump's tax cuts have benefitted America's wealthiest during Wednesday night's vice-presidential debates.

Sen. Kamala Harris reminded Americans that Trump's tax cuts have benefitted America's wealthiest during Wednesday night's vice-presidential debates (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool).

By Meghan McCarthy

October 7, 2020

At Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris told Americans that Joe Biden’s tax plan would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans—or just 2% of the US.

Vice President Mike Pence claimed that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris would raise taxes on regular Americans by repealing the Trump tax cuts.

That argument, however, is not true.

The nonpartisan group Factcheck.org says Biden’s tax plan would actually affect “very high-income earners and corporations.” Or as Sen. Kamala Harris put it during Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate: “The fact and truth is that Joe Biden is very clear: He will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000.”

Biden has repeatedly said he will not raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 per year—which is 98% of working Americans. Instead, he would limit deductions, breaks, and loopholes for the 2% of Americans making more than $400,000 per year. That increase on a small fraction of the population would help offset the toll the pandemic has taken on working-class Americans. 

One way Biden’s plan would make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share would happen in Social Security taxes. Right now, any income above $137,000 isn’t taxed for Social Security. Biden’s plan would restart the tax on any income above $400,001. It would also close that gap over time, so everyone is paying a portion of their full salary into Social Security, regardless of how much money they make.

Biden’s plan would also ensure that earnings from investments over $1 million, like stocks, are taxed like a regular paycheck. Right now, they are taxed at only about half that rate.

At the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday night, Pence claimed that Trump’s 2017 tax bill gave the “average” American home thousands of dollars, but the Congressional Budget Office found the legislation actually moved money from lowest income Americans and shifted it to the top fifth of earners in American. The majority of that gain has gone to the top 1% of Americans—or the wealthiest in the country.

Harris also criticized Trump for failing to pay income taxes, despite claiming to be a billionaire. “When I heard that Donald Trump $750 in taxes, I literally said ‘You mean $750,000?’”

Harris also honed in on the $400 million Trump owes to an unknown debtor. “When we say in debt, it means you owe money to somebody. It would be really good to know who the president owes money to,” Harris said on Wednesday night.

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