Hillary Clinton rebuffed Donald Trump’s newly announced economic plan in a major Thursday speech from Michigan highlighting her vision for the economy.
The Democratic nominee attacked Trump’s latest tax break proposal as the “Trump loophole” while claiming that it only benefits the ultra-wealthy and their friends and family. She also clarified her stance on trade while promoting the jobs plan she’s toured the country touting in recent weeks.
In attacking what she dubbed the “Trump loophole,” Clinton said it would allow him to cut his personal tax rate my more than half.
“In his speech on Monday, he called for a new tax loophole — let’s call it the ‘Trump Loophole,'” she said. “It would allow him to pay less than half the current tax rate on income from many of his companies. He’d pay a lower rate than millions of middle class families.”
That is the portion of his platform dedicated to slashing the tax rate on what is known as pass-through income.
Pass-through income “passes through” the business to the individual returns of its owners. CNBC’s Robert Frank cast the loophole as the biggest tax break for the wealthy in Trump’s plan. Though analyses have shown that a plan similar to Trump’s would aid small businesses, most of its benefits would go to wealthier business owners.
Pass-through income today is taxed at individual rates, with a ceiling of 39.6%. Trump’s plan would slash the tax rate for this income to 15%.
An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that the vast majority of pass-through income goes to the top 1% of earners, with the top 400 earners in 2013 acquiring 20% of their total income this way. For those 400 people, that came out to slightly more than $94 million each on average.
Clinton later ripped Trump’s Monday proposal to eliminate the Estate Tax, which would save Trump’s family almost half of the $10 billion he claims to be worth.
“He hasn’t offered any credible solutions for the very real economic challenges we face,” she said.
She also called out Trump on his new plan to exclude childcare payments from taxation, his harsh trade rhetoric, and for failing to produce his own line of products in the US.
“His plan was panned from the left, the right, the center because it is transparently designed for rich people like him,” she said of his plan to eliminate taxes on childcare before late calling for an expansion of the child tax credit. “He would give wealthy families 30 or 40 cents on the dollars for their nannies and little or nothing for millions of hardworking families trying to afford childcare so they can get to work and keep the job.”
The Democratic nominee spent a significant portion of her speech clarifying her stance on trade after she came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the primary season. Clinton was for the landmark trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim nations while she served as secretary of state.
During the campaign, the agreement along with other free trade deals involving the US have been lambasted by Trump and Clinton’s primary challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. During the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month, pro-Sanders supporters held up signs that read “No TPP” and interrupted several speakers with that chant.
In her Thursday speech, which was held in Warren, Michigan, Clinton said Trump’s plan on trade is based on “fear and not strength.”
But, Clinton acknowledged that past trade agreements haven’t lived up to their promises.
“It is true that past trade deals have been sold to the American people with rosy scenarios that did not pan out,” she said. “Those promises now ring hollow in many communities across Michigan and our country that have seen factories close and jobs disappear. Too many companies lobbied for trade deals so they could sell products abroad, but they instead moved abroad and sold back into the United States.”
“But the answer is not to rant and rave or cut ourselves off from the world, that would end up killing even more jobs,” she said later. “The answer is to finally make trade work for us not against us. So my message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this: I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I’ll oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.”
She said Trump’s vision is making the assumption that the US “can’t compete with the rest of the world even when the rules are fair.”
Clinton decided to invoke the Olympics to make her point.
“Fear that our country has no choice other than to hide behind walls,” she said. “If Team USA was as fearful as Trump, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles would be cowering in the locker room afraid to compete. Instead, they’re winning gold medals. America isn’t afraid to compete.”
She detailed aspects of her economic plan, which included an investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, and scientific research; plans for tuition-free college for middle-class families and debt-free college; policies aimed at ensuring higher wages; and Wall Street reform.
Reacting to the speech, top Trump ally and hedge fund billionaire Carl Icahn took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with her plan.
“Hillary’s speech was a mishmash of contradictions,” he wrote, adding that Clinton’s opposition to Trump’s platform of relaxing federal regulations on the oil and coal industries is “strangulating.”
Trump’s campaign fired back at Clinton both before and during the speech, calling her proposals “trickle-down globalism” and claiming that they would “short circuit” the economy.
“Hillary is a corporatist, offshoring, trickle-down globalist – the exact opposite of the Donald Trump America First platform,” Stephen Miller, national policy director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. “A vote for Hillary is a vote for NAFTA, TPP and the end of American manufacturing.”
Dan Kowalski, the Trump campaign’s deputy national policy director, said Clinton “is running to keep things as they are.”
“Clinton’s plans today will short circuit our economy by raising taxes, increasing spending and killing jobs,” he said in a statement Thursday morning ahead of the speech. “Donald Trump presents a better vision and a new direction — a plan to unleash prosperity, create jobs and increase wages so that all Americans can succeed.”
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