| August 29, 2016
Trump Campaign Hopes for Reverse "Bradley Effect"
When it comes to its electoral strategy, it's not often that a presidential campaign gives the game away so easily. This week, new Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did it twice. Last Sunday, she personally confirmed that Donald Trump's laughable outreach to black voters wasn't intended for African-Americans at all. "I live in a white community," Conway explained, "I'm white. I was very moved by his comment." Just three days later, she insisted her losing candidate was actually winning, all thanks to what she branded "the hidden Trump voter in the country." Claiming their numbers are "very significant," Ms. Conway suggested the campaign's "Undercover Trump Voter" project would help these appalled or ashamed suburban whites overcome the social stigma of publicly backing the irredeemably racist Republican nominee:
"Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election. It's because it's become socially desirable, if you're a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you're against Donald Trump."
These supposed undercover Trump voters, in other words, are simply too embarrassed to acknowledge they support The Donald. But while they feel compelled to lie to pollsters now, on November 8th their secret ballots will power Trump to a shocking upset victory.
If this formula sounds vaguely familiar, it should. That's because back in the early 1990's political scientists, pundits and the press proclaimed the existence of the "Bradley Effect" in which some white voters would lie to survey takers (and even themselves) about supporting a black candidate only to mark the ballot for his or her white opponent on Election Day. The Trump campaign, it now appears, is counting on the reverse dynamic to save it in November.
As you may recall, the Bradley Effect got its name from Tom Bradley, the former Mayor of Los Angeles. In his 1982 California gubernatorial race, he consistently led Republican George Deukmejian. As former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder explained four years ago:
On the eve of the election, polls anointed him a prohibitive favorite. But on Election Day, Bradley lost to his white opponent, Republican George Deukmejian."
Post-election analysis showed that white voters had cast ballots for Bradley in far smaller numbers than polling suggested. Meanwhile, the votes of the avowed "undecideds" fell in a cascading wave for Deukmejian.
This almost happened to me. Voter surveys immediately before my 1989 election as Virginia governor showed me leading my Republican opponent by almost 10 points. Some showed an even larger lead.
Like David Dinkins in New York City, Wilder only eeked out a victory by half a percentage point. But unlike Bradley, Wilder was prepared. "My campaign knew better, however," he pointed out in 2012. "Our internal polls always showed the race to be a statistical dead heat."
Four years later, Donald Trump and his water carriers are hoping for a repeat of the Bradley experience, but in reverse.
Just one day before Trump's campaign manager Conway unveiled her magic unicorn theory of The Donald's path to victory, campaign CEO Stephen Bannon's friends at Breitbart ran this headline: "EXCLUSIVE: Former Tom Bradley Aide Says Secret Trump Voters Similar to 'Bradley Effect.'" A cheerful
Emerson College Professor Gregory Payne tells Breitbart News that after witnessing the actual Bradley Effect while working on that campaign, he sees the same phenomenon in the 2016 with voters reluctant to tell pollsters they support GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Trump backers began getting their hopes up last year. First, In May 2015 the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey examining "From Telephone to the Web: The Challenge of Mode of Interview Effects in Public Opinion Polls." The study found "that differences in responses by survey mode are fairly common, but typically not large, with a mean difference of 5.5 percentage points and a median difference of five points across the 60 questions." Those deltas were larger on the phone regarding "societal discrimination against several different groups" and online when respondents were asked to "give various political figures a 'very unfavorable' rating." As Pew explained:
The social interaction inherent in a telephone or in-person interview may also exert subtle pressures on respondents that affect how they answer questions. Respondents may feel a need to present themselves in a more positive light to an interviewer, leading to an overstatement of socially desirable behaviors and attitudes and an understatement of opinions and behaviors they fear would elicit disapproval from another person. Previous research has shown that respondents understate such activities as drug and alcohol use and overstate activities like donating to charity or helping other people. This phenomenon is often referred to as "social desirability bias." These effects may be stronger among certain types of people than others, introducing additional bias into the results.
Then in December, Morning Consult did its own research with 2,400 Republicans (a third interviewed, a third completed an online survey and a third taking an automated phone survey) and concluded "Donald Trump Performs Better in Online Polling." As they summed it up, "Republicans are more likely to say they want Donald Trump in the White House if they are taking a poll online versus in a live telephone interview. And, if you're a highly-educated or engaged Republican voter, it turns out that you're far less likely to tell another human being you want Trump as president." Trump earned the support of 38 percent of online respondents, compared to 36 percent completing the automated phone survey and 32 percent personally interviewed by phone. But The Donald performed much worse with a live interviewer if the respondent had some college education:
Among adults with a bachelor's degree or postgraduate degree, Trump performs about 10 percentage points better online than via live telephone. And, among adults with some college, Trump performs more than 10 percentage points better online. Conversely, Republicans with a high school education or less favored Trump on the phone over online...
What explains Trump's worse numbers on the phone? One possible explanation is "social desirability bias," or in other words, people being reluctant to select Trump when talking to another person because they do not believe it will be viewed as a socially acceptable decision.
That's the very script Kellyanne Conway was offering reporters this week. California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was probably thinking along the same lines when he proclaimed in February that "I think you have more Trump supporters in Congress. They just have to come out of the closet, so to speak." And in June, Donald Trump himself proclaimed that when it comes to the Bradley Effect, orange is the new black:
"When I poll, I do fine, but when I run I do much better. In other words, people say I'm not going to say who I'm voting for, don't be embarrassed, I'm not going to say who I'm voting for and then they get it and I do much better, it's like an amazing effect."
Unfortunately for Donald Trump and company, there are a lot of problems with their reverse Bradley Effect dream. As we'll see below, primary contests and general elections are the not the same. Recent history provides another red flag, as fans of John McCain and Mitt Romney learned to their great disappointment. Oh, and one other thing. By most accounts, the Bradley Effect no longer exists.
That's the consensus of a wide swath of political and social scientists, one seemingly confirmed by Barack Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012. Writing in Campaigns and Elections on the eve of voting in 2008, Shane D'Aprile was blunt:
I haven't been able to find one major pollster who thinks the so-called "Bradley effect," (the notion that voters overstate their support for a black candidate to pollsters for fear of being perceived as racist) will be a factor Tuesday. In fact, some think this election could finally shatter what they see as the "myth" of the Bradley effect.
Echoing Doug Wilder's assessment four years later, D'Aprile essentially rejected the idea of Bradley Effect in the first place. Behind-the-scenes dynamics specific to a given race often give the candidates a different perspective than the public. "The unifying thread in both of those races is that the pollsters who worked them say their internal numbers showed the contests much closer than the public polls predicted," D'Aprile explained, "and express skepticism that race was a factor in the discrepancies."
Some people say they lie to pollsters, but they really don't," says GOP pollster Jim McLaughlin. He did the polling for Wilder's opponent in 1989, Republican Marshall Coleman. McLaughlin says his internals had Wilder up by just a point as Election Day neared.
When Hillary Clinton upset Obama in the January 2008 New Hampshire primary, some observers turned to the Bradley Effect. But as political scientist Brendan Nyhan pointed out, "the polls came close to predicting Obama's support. They were just way too low on Hillary." Ultimately, he concluded, "The short answer: It's unclear." That August, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight was left no ambiguity in a piece titled, "The Persistent Myth of the Bradley Effect."
As we have described here before, polling numbers from the primaries suggested no presence of a Bradley Effect. On the contrary, it was Barack Obama -- not Hillary Clinton -- who somewhat outperformed his polls on Election Day.
And as Silver was quick to note, "the 8.9-point gap separating the pre-election polls and the actual results in New Hampshire represented only the seventh-largest error in the primaries." Iowa, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin and Mississippi all had bigger discrepancies and all favored Barack Obama.
Like D'Aprile, Silver advised press and politicos alike to dispense with the notion that the Bradley Effect would work against Obama that November for another, more important reason. Past performance would not be a guarantee of future results:
There is fairly strong academic evidence that the Bradley Effect used to exist back in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the evidence is just as strong that it does not exist any longer. The people who vouch for the existence of the Bradley Effect are not wrong so much as they are relying on dated evidence.
In September 2008, the legendary Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium weighed in on "The Disappearing Bradley Effect." As more analysts suggested the polls would contain a hidden bonus for John McCain, Wang cautioned the usual convention wisdom peddled by the likes of Ron Fournier:
Now comes a large-scale empirical study (in preprint form) by Harvard political scientist Dan Hopkins. He finds that since the mid-1990s, the Bradley effect has disappeared. His paper is a must-read...
Until now, the empirical evidence for the Bradley effect rested on individual cases...Now Dan Hopkins has gathered some highly relevant information. In a recent paper he analyzes polling data and election outcomes for 133 gubernatorial and Senate races from 1989 to 2006...
Polls did show a significant Bradley/Wilder effect through the early 1990s, which includes the period when Bradley and Wilder were running for office. However, Hopkins notes that the effect then went away in races from 1996 onward. To quote the study: "Before 1996, the median gap for black candidates was 3.1 percentage points, while for subsequent years it was -0.3 percentage points."
That November, Wang, Nyhan and Silver were proven right.
If you have any doubt, just ask John McCain or Mitt Romney. As David Graham helpfully recalled this week, there was no "hidden McCain vote." As for Romney, he was so certain of victory he prepared no concession speech for Election Night. Ironically underestimating minority turnout, Romney was stunned--and his running mate Paul Ryan "genuinely shocked" --by President Obama's comfortable reelection. Writing in The Resurgent on Thursday, arch-conservative Erick Erickson showed the after-effects of getting mugged by reality:
There is no Trump "Bradley Effect." We have been here before. We were wrong then too...
As I wrote yesterday, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Well, the Trump campaign clearly thinks you are fools. His campaign manager, a noted pollster, wants you to believe that Trump voters are too ashamed to admit they are Trump voters.
Well, establishment Republicans certainly are too ashamed to admit it, but I find more and more very bold Trump supporters.
The fact is that the polls are not wrong and if you believe they are wrong then you are again believing the same lies that Republicans told themselves in 2008 and 2012. And if you believe over and over the same lies, you really are a fool who has no business voting.
Leaving liberal schadenfreude over Erickson's exquisite pain aside, there are plenty of other reasons why Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump must be smoking the drapes.
In late June, Stefan Hankin provided his answer to "why Trump's numbers aren't hiding a reverse Bradley Effect." His conclusion? "our read on the data is that Trump's support is not being severely underestimated and there isn't a "silent majority" unwilling to speak their minds in polls." It's not just that Clinton voters are solid in their support ("81 percent of Clinton voters have a favorable opinion of her, and 88 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Trump"). Undecideds are leaning towards Hillary.
Indeed, 58 percent of undecided voters say that there's less than a 1-in-4 chance that they'll end up voting for Trump, while 47 percent say the same of Clinton. Clearly, these aren't rosy numbers for Clinton, but they don't point to a "silent majority" eager to back Trump in the privacy of the voting booth.
Writing in the New York Times in May, Thomas Edsall wasn't so sure. Citing the Morning Consult findings the previous May, Edsall warned that "in matchups between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump does much better in polls conducted online, in which respondents click their answers on a computer screen, rather than in person-to-person landline and cellphone surveys."
Why is this important? Because an online survey, whatever other flaws it might have, resembles an anonymous voting booth far more than what you tell a pollster does.
But as Edsall's colleague Nate Cohn detailed the following week, "With the primary season effectively over, I think we can say, with some qualifications, that the live-interview surveys were probably more accurate than the online surveys." Simply put, "the actual results just weren't as good for Mr. Trump as the balance of online surveys predicted they would be."
And in general election surveys, the dynamic seems to have flipped: Trump now does better in live-interview polling than online. That could show that Conway's hyped "social desirability bias" is not at work. Or, just as important, it could reflect that online surveys generally allow for more undecided/other/don't know voters. Either way:
It does make it harder to compare the results of the online and live-interview surveys, since there's no way to be sure whether Mr. Trump would still be doing better if there were fewer undecided voters.
(For more on this point, see David Rothschild's article and charts.)
Regardless, Kellyanne Conway faces a major challenge in selling her theory of the "Undercover Trump Voter." As Graham summed it up in The Atlantic, it's not just that plenty of past candidates have made the same mistake.
A host of smart poll analysts have explained in detail why it doesn't look like there's a chunk of voters who are missing or simply lying about who they support. Trump may have a path to victory by winning a tremendous portion of white voters. Sean Trende was arguing long before the Trump phenomenon that there was a large cache of "missing white voters" who a Republican candidate might be able to turn out and ride to victory. But there's no sign that Trump is building the sort of large and sophisticated voter identification and turnout operation it would require to get a large group of infrequent voters to the polls--or even to make sure regular voters show up. On the flip side, it's not all that surprising that a candidate who has gone out of his way to offend many groups of Americans would be struggling in the polls.
Struggling, indeed. As of Wednesday, Nate Silver's 538 model gave Trump only a 17 percent chance of winning the election. Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Philip Bump mocked Donald Trump's supposed outreach to minority voters currently rejecting him by record margins, "Donald Trump is doing great with black and Hispanic voters now, according to polls that don't exist."
But Trump's empty gestures to Hispanic and African-American voters are just that. When The Donald is talking about blacks, he's actually speaking to whites. While his insults, slanders and myths about made-up African-American pathologies stoke the fire of the racial resentment of his devoted base, his ersatz concern for their plight provides cover for those squeamish suburban, melanin-challenged too appalled or embarrassed to declare their support to their fellow Americans. Trump's only hope is that these "hidden" voters, like Kellyanne Conway, will be "moved" by his words.
Moved, that is, to go to the polling place in November and do in private what they won't do in public.
| August 24, 2016
Republicans Should Watch 11 Hours of Video Showing a Healthy Hillary Clinton Kicking Their Asses
And now some helpful advice for Republicans pretending to diagnose Hillary Clinton by video: it won't go well for you. Back in the spring of 2005, Senate Majority Leader and physician Bill Frist (R-TN) told his assembled colleagues that he disagreed with Terri Schiavo's doctors that she had suffered massive, irreversible and permanent brain damage.
"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."
Frist, who just four months earlier tried to defend the notion that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted by tears and sweat, was rightly mocked at the time. Ultimately, Schiavo's autopsy confirmed her doctors' assessment, leaving Bill Frist's presidential ambitions in a permanent vegetative state.
But the Republicans now preposterously claiming that Secretary Clinton is suffering from seizures, Parkinson's disease, dysphasia, aneurysms, stroke, brain cancer and radiation poisoning don't need to go back to March 2005 to relive their humiliation. As it turns out, a quick review of the events of October 22, 2015 is more than sufficient to dispel GOP myth-making about Clinton's health. That was the day, after all, in which Clinton showed plenty of "mental and physical stamina" in smacking down the GOP-controlled House Benghazi Committee.
But you don't have to take the word of Clinton allies after her 11 hour testimony that "the woman has amazing endurance" and "she answered every question with the grace and a commanding knowledge of a true leader." Headlines like "Conservative Pundits Were Not Impressed with the GOP's Disastrous Benghazi Hearing" and "Benghazi Bust" and "The Conservative Reviews Are In: Benghazi Hearing a Bust summed up the frustration, exasperation and desperation who watched a patient, prepared and powerful Clinton outperform and outsmart Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) daylong inquisition. As right-wing columnist Byron York lamented:
There's a reason Benghazi Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy offered Hillary Clinton the chance to testify in a private, closed hearing. And there's a reason Clinton wanted to appear in an open setting, with the whole world watching.
Writing in Bloomberg News, Sahil Kapur reported, "Some of Hillary Clinton's top critics say she won the day." Dick Cheney hagiographer and 9/11 fabulist Stephen Hayes criticized the work of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), grumbling that his "second round of questioning was snarky in tone and ineffective in substance." New York Post columnist and former Reagan speechwriter John Podhoretz tweeted his outrage over Clinton's clear triumph:
Matt Lewis, whose Daily Caller recently published a piece titled "We Ran Hillary Clinton's Symptoms Through WebMD And The Diagnosis Isn't Pretty," reached a different conclusion after the Democrat shredded Gowdy's Committee on October 22. "Unless something happens," Lewis tweeted at 12:18 PM that day, "it's starting to look like Hillary Clinton won't merely survive this hearing -- she will have come out on top." Just two minutes later, he moaned that:
Ever since the McCarthy gaffe, everything has worked out for Hillary (debate, Biden, & now this hearing). She even seems more likable now.
For his part, Rush Limbaugh chalked up Clinton's marathon mauling of Committee Republicans to, wait for it, a media conspiracy.
All of this has been a media hype for the express purpose of when it's over being able to claim that the Republicans did not land a glove on Mrs. Clinton. That she showed up and that she looked good and that she was composed and that she triumphed over this, and the Republicans weren't able to do a thing about it. That is the objective. That is the script.
If that was Limbaugh's fear, it was--to borrow a GOP talking point--mission accomplished. As Politico concluded in an article titled, "Clinton emerges stronger for next phase of campaign":
Following her debate performance, the Benghazi hearing marked the second time in recent weeks that she made a difficult task look easy.
It's no wonder former GOP Congressman turned MSNBC host Joe Scarborough agreed that the hearing was "a TKO for Hillary Clinton. It wasn't even a close call."
For his part, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani reached a different conclusion after Clinton's October 22, 2015 appearance before the House Benghazi Committee. Clinton, he declared, was either "incompetent or lying." Regardless, the former prosecutor charged, "this seals the case."
But now, almost 10 months to the day that Hillary Clinton easily withstood hour after hour after partisan probing and two months since the House Benghazi Committee produced the 8th report finding no wrong-doing on Clinton's part, Giuliani is pressing a new case:
"I think Hillary's tired...She looks sick," Giuliani said Monday on Fox News. The day before, he urged viewers of a separate Fox interview, "Go online and put down 'Hillary Clinton illness.' Take a look at the videos for yourself."
My advice: go online to C-SPAN instead and watch the videos of Hillary Clinton's performance at that Benghazi Committee hearing. After all, her testimony that day is one example of why her presidential prospects seem very healthy, indeed. As for Chairman Gowdy or Mayor Giuliani, theirs have fallen into a persistent vegetative state.
| August 23, 2016
Trump Uses Bogus Black Outreach to Reach Out to White Voters
Over the past few days, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump received the equivalent of a Little League participation trophy. Some in the press lavished praise on the "new Trump" for offering an ersatz apology to no one in particular for nothing specific. Then the man who has the lowest approval ratings from African-American voters in modern political history earned kudos for his "outreach" to black voters. Former New York Mayor and Trump water carrier Rudy Giuliani called his addresses "the best" that "any Republican, at the least, has ever given."
But the target of Donald Trump's speeches to virtually all-white audiences in lily white towns like West Bend, Wisconsin and Dimondale, Michigan wasn't the African-American electorate that will doubtless deliver at least 90 percent of its vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. No, Trump as ever was sending a message to white folks. To that handful of suburban voters desperate for any sign that his incendiary and racist rhetoric hadn't already placed him beyond the pale, The Donald was trying to present the façade of newly-found empathy. Far more important, Trump cynically recited a litany of sick stereotypes and pretend pathologies of African-Americans to stoke the burning racial resentment of his snow white base.
Why else would Donald Trump bash black voters he was supposedly trying to embrace? In the 93 percent white town of Dimondale, Trump spoke at and about overwhelmingly black Detroit almost an hour and a half away:
"You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth in unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?"
Philip Gourevitch summed up Trump's pitch to African-American voters, "I look at you & see an unimaginable nightmare--so abominable & desperate that you might as well vote for me." As Trump's comments to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday showed, Gourevitch wasn't exaggerating:
"It's just a like a total catastrophe, the unemployment rates, everything is bad, no healthcare, no education, no anything, and poverty is unbelievable."
Now, there are just two problems for the man who has long boasted that "I have a great relationship with the blacks." For starters, as Philip Bump pointed out in the Washington Post, virtually noting Trump said was true:
Black Americans are not "living in poverty" as a general rule. A quarter of the black population is, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about the same as the percentage of Hispanics. In Michigan, the figure is slightly higher. Most black Americans don't live in poverty, just as most white Americans don't.
Fifty years ago, 41 percent of African-Americans lived in poverty. Now, "the black poverty rate is too high but most blacks, more than 72%, do not live in poverty," ThinkProgress explained, adding, "The black unemployment rate is too high but 92% of blacks in the labor force have jobs."
But there's another fallacy in Trump's tall tale of African-American despair and hopelessness. As a recent survey from the Pew Research Center revealed (see chart above), blacks are the most upbeat of any American demographic group about the progress the United States has made over the past 50 years.
About eight-in-ten (81%) Trump backers say that things have gotten worse for people like them compared with 50 years ago. Just 19% of Clinton supporters say the same. A 59% majority of Clinton supporters say life is better for people like them; only 11% of Trump voters think this...
As was the case earlier this year, there are significant demographic differences in these views. About half (51%) of black voters say life is better today for people like them and just 20% say it is worse (23% say it is about the same). By contrast, white voters are more likely to say life has gotten worse (52%) than say it has gotten better (33%); 12% say it is little different. Hispanics are divided on this question: 4o% say life is better for people like them than it was a half-century ago, while about as many (39%) say it is worse (17% say it is about the same).
Donald Trump isn't the first to resort to crass stereotyping by equating African-Americans with poverty or lamenting that "the inner cities are so bad." Before he became Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) decried "makers and takers" turning "the safety net into a hammock," especially those "generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work" who could be found "in our inner cities." But as I documented last year, the data show that the typical face of American poverty is rural, Southern and white.
But for Donald Trump, speaking the truth about African-Americans doesn't matter because he's not speaking to them. (Unlike Trump, in 2012 Mitt Romney at least addressed the NAACP, even if his motivation was similarly cynical.) Instead, Trump is telling tales designed to mollify some white voters who don't support him while firing up those who already do. (The greatest predictor of someone's support for Trump, after all, is whether they believe Barack Obama is a Muslim.) Just ask his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. As she explained to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday:
"Those comments are for all Americans. And I live in a white community. I'm white. I was very moved by his comment. In other words, he is trying to tell Americans that we can do better."
Better at the polls on November 8, that is, if Trump's melanin-challenged base gets out to vote.
| August 20, 2016
Trump: "I Will Always Tell You the Truth" Up to 30 Percent of the Time
In his first major address since turning over the reins of his campaign to Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump provided two notable--if not laudable--moments. For starters, the Republican offered a blanket apology, or more accurately, an "unpology." That is, his expression of conditional regret applied only in unspecified circumstances in which "you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing" and when someone may have taken offense, "particularly where it may have caused personal pain." Second, Trump promised a "pivot" --away from the pathological lying that has defined his White House run:
But one thing I can promise you is this: I will always tell you the truth.
I speak the truth for all of you, and for everyone in this country who doesn't have a voice.
I speak the truth on behalf of the factory worker who lost his or her job.
I speak the truth on behalf of the Veteran who has been denied the medical care they need - and so many are not making it. They are dying.
I speak the truth on behalf of the family living near the border that deserves to be safe in their own country but is instead living with no security at all.
Americans should be forgiven their skepticism. After all, the fact-checking web site Politifact evaluated the veracity of 223 Trump statements as of August 19, 2016. A staggering 157 of them (70 percent), were rated as "Mostly False", "False" or "Pants on Fire." As it turns out, Donald Trump lies more than every major candidate from either party, as Robert Mann recently showed in the chart below:
While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the lesson for voters is clear. When Donald Trump pledges, "I will always tell you the truth," he only means it about 30 percent of the time.
| August 15, 2016
Trump Says His Tax Plan is "Going to Cost Me a Fortune." He's Lying.
From the beginning of presidential campaign, Donald Trump has positioned himself as the posing populist. The man his friends and family tout as the "blue-collar billionaire," the real estate tycoon turned reality TV star proclaimed himself the "voice" of "the forgotten men and women of our country." In September, the supposed ally of average Americans boasted that his tax plan--then estimated to deliver a $3.7 million tax cut to the top 0.1 percent of income earners at an estimated 10-year cost to Uncle Sam of $9.5 to $12 trillion--would provide a windfall to workers while hitting him hard:
"It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.]
Of course, Trump's claim wasn't true then. And even after he unveiled a somewhat more modest version of his tax proposal this week, it's not true now.
As it turns out, from lower rates on earned income and investments to eliminating the estate tax and slashing rates on "pass-through" businesses, almost every facet of Donald Trump's tax code overhaul would redirect millions of dollars from the United States Treasury to his own bank account. As Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler concluded in his "Four Pinocchio" review fall:
No matter how we slice it, we do not see how Trump can justify his claim that his tax plan would cost him "a fortune." On the contrary, it appears it would significantly reduce his taxes -- and the taxes of his heirs.
For starters, consider Trump's proposal to move from seven federal income tax brackets to just three of 12 percent up to M, 25 percent up to N and 33 percent over B income per year. While lower than his version 1.0 proposal of 10, 15 and 25 percent, The Donald's new brackets would mean a staggering windfall for those, presumably including him, currently paying the top marginal rate of 39.6 percent. Now, Americans don't know his annual income because Donald Trump has flouted 40 years of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns. But his campaign finance disclosures claim he has a net worth of $10 billion and earned $557 million between January 2015 and May 2016. While his income sources are doubtless diverse, President Trump would surely reap millions from candidate Trump's income tax rate reductions alone.
But the really big dollars for The Donald would result from his proposals to slice tax rates for corporate and small business income...
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