Summers Says Trump Officials Are Making Things Up About Their Tax Plan

  • It’s hard to have a dialogue with made-up claims, he says
  • Says tax cuts for richest Americans won’t ease populist anger

Summers Says Trump Officials Make Up Tax Claims

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said officials in President Donald Trump’s administration are making false claims when it comes to tax reform.

“When you have -- and I hate to be in a position of using this word about our government -- when you have senior economic officials making claims that are made-up,” said Summers, who served under Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, adding that “it’s very hard to have a dialogue, and compromise, and get to a good place.”

Summers, a Harvard University professor, said tax reform has bipartisan support, but blasted the Republican president’s framework for not being revenue-neutral and for lacking detail.

Trump has touted his plan as something that could help middle-class families, though a study by the nonpartisan Urban Institute and Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center, which used details from previous Republican plans to fill in gaps in the president’s framework, found the Trump plan would raise taxes for almost 30 percent of filers making $50,000 to $150,000 per year.

“I do believe that when you put something forth called ‘tax plan,’ it has to be described in a way where people can figure out what their taxes would be under it,” Summers said, speaking on Bloomberg Television with David Westin and Alix Steel. “You need to present some data on who is going to be helped and who is going to be hurt. Those are sort of the norms of American political life, and we are operating outside those.”

Summers also invoked populist sentiment as one reason to lean against a tax plan that benefits the rich.

“There’s a lot of unhappiness and anger out there -- that’s an important part of why the president was elected -- and if we don’t do something to assuage that anger, that’s going to have broad consequences for our politics for a long time to come,” Summers said. “It’s really hard to see why focusing a corporate tax cut on those at the very high-end is going to do much to assuage that anger.”

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