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    Election 2016: Part 2, the remaining Republicans
    The Vault

    Election 2016: Part 2, the remaining Republicans

    August 2015

    Continuing in our series on presidential candidates and their positions on tax reform, here are the remaining Republican candidates.  Again, they are listed alphabetically.

    Carly Fiorina

    The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is considered to be the hands-down winner of the JV debate that took place just hours before the main debate last week. Like much of her competition, Fiorina has yet to release details of how she plans to get the economy moving. But we can piece together some key areas and initiatives from recent interviews. On taxes, Fiorina says she will lower every tax rate, close every loophole except for a few that benefit the middle class, and shrink the U.S. tax code to three pages.  

    Loopholes, or tax expenditures, cost the government more than $1 trillion a year in lost revenue.  Fiorina has her work cut out for her, as each loophole has a well-organized, well-funded constituency behind it.  Eliminating them would certainly simplify the tax code, but whether Fiorina (or anyone) can close every loophole is up topic for debate.  

    Jim Gilmore

    As a national figure and presidential candidate, the former VA governor has pushed an extremely regressive tax reform agenda dubbed “The Growth Code” that would provide massive tax cuts for wealthy individuals. The regressive provisions of The Growth Code include elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends, immediate expensing of capital equipment, lowering the top marginal tax rate to 25 percent, and the implementation of a territorial tax system in which the U.S. would generally tax corporate profits only if they are generated in the United States.

    Gilmore claims the reform package would be revenue-neutral, but so far has not included a single reference to how it would make up for the trillions in lost revenue that the cuts it proposes would generate. Critics claim the proposal would create a massive hole in the federal budget.

    Lindsey Graham

    The senator from South Carolina is running on promises to ease tax and regulatory burdens.  Graham is aiming to simplify the tax code, lower rates while limiting the use of deductions and credits that are not cost-effective, streamline federal regulation, and introduce sunset provisions so that there is a built-in process to ensure that regulations are subject to review, cost-effectiveness analysis, and accountability.  Regulations that cannot stand up to scrutiny or are no longer essential should be eliminated.

    In a recent interview, Graham proposed a broad range of solutions outlined in the 2012 Simpson-Bowles plan -- a broad, relatively centrist entitlement reform plan that died in Congress. The Senator said that in order to curb rising costs of Medicare, Social Security, and other programs, he'd raise the retirement age, trim benefits, and flatten out the tax code.  Graham also stated he would be willing to eliminate some tax deductions to get centrist Democrats on board with his plan.  He’ll need that support, as fiscal conservatives railed against Simpson-Bowles for its potential to raise taxes.

    Bobby Jindal

    The Louisiana governor wants to radically simplify the tax code, going so far as to suggest "blowing it up," although he has yet to specify what he would replace it with, beyond promising that it would contain fewer weird exemptions and deductions arranged by lobbyists.

    Jindal has stated that the more pay in taxes the less you are free -- to do what you want, start your own business, and so on.  He’s advocated lowering tax rates for business and families, and supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in which candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases.  For his work in Louisiana, he’s won the support of Americans for Tax Reform, a national anti-tax group with incredible national influence.  

    George Pataki

    The former three-term governor of New York with a history of slashing taxes has yet to announce any details on federal tax reform but is broadly stating he wants to throw out the “incomprehensible” tax code and replace it with simpler, lower rates.  He also plans to eliminate excessive taxes that crush small businesses and encourage manufacturers to go abroad.  He has expressly stated he is against a national sales tax.

    Rick Perry

    Although details are still sketchy, the former Republican Texas governor has proposed an alternative tax system that could be used in lieu of the current system. The changes would be phased in and eventually become mandatory. Under the alternative system, individuals would pay a flat tax rate; long-term capital gains, dividends and Social Security benefits would be exempt from tax; and only certain deductions – including those for charitable donations, mortgage interest and state and local taxes – would be retained.

    Rick Santorum

    The former senator of Pennsylvania has promised to release a tax plan that will “end the IRS as we know it.” Based on prior proposals from his 2012 campaign, Santorum’s would cut the six tax brackets down to two of 10 percent and 28 percent, reduce the capital gains rate and completely wipe out estate taxes. For businesses, Santorum has previously advocated a lower corporate income tax rate (0 percent for U.S. manufacturers), immediate expensing and tax-free repatriation of overseas profits for reinvestments in the U.S. economy.


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