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Santorum's tax plan leaves hole in budget

GOP candidate wants to cut tax rates and increase exemptions for children, plus cut domestic spending. But his budget cuts wouldn't replace nearly all the lost revenue.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 5, 2012 11:29AM

This post is by Howard Gleckmanat


With Rick Santorum's strong showing in Iowa, it is a good time to take a look at his tax agenda. While his revenue plan has received almost no attention, it plays a major role in his "faith, family and freedom" campaign. His playbook: lower rates for individuals and corporations, substantially cut taxes on capital and increase the personal exemption for dependent children.


The Tax Policy Center has not yet formally modeled the former Pennsylvania senator’s tax platform. However, because it cuts rates significantly but does not eliminate tax preferences — and even expands a few — it would very likely add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit.  Looked at from that prism, it is not so different from the ideas raised by most of his GOP rivals.

Like other Republican tax planks, Santorum’s would benefit corporations and high-income individuals. No surprise there. But unlike his rivals, he’d also cut taxes for many families with children.


Santorum is no bleeding heart, however. Even as he’d cut their taxes, he’d shred direct government spending for programs aimed at assisting these same households.


As part of his plan to cut federal spending by $5 trillion over five years, he’d immediately slash many domestic programs to 2008 levels and freeze for five years spending for social programs such as Medicaid, housing subsidies, food stamps, education and job training.

Interestingly, by using tax expenditures to support these families, Santorum would likely add significantly to the number of households that pay no income tax. This is anathema to current Republican orthodoxy, although not something that would trouble Milton Friedman.


Specifically, Santorum would:

  • Replace the current individual rate structure with just two rates—10% and 28%.
  • Lower rates on capital gains and dividends to 12%.
  • Triple the personal exemption for dependent children and keep the refundable earned income and child tax credits.
  • Retain tax preferences for charitable giving, mortgage interest, health care and retirement savings.
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Cut the corporate rate in half to 17.5%. Manufacturers would pay no income tax.
  • Allow full expensing for capital investment.
  • Increase the research and development tax credit to 20%.
  • Allow multinationals to bring foreign earnings back to the U.S. at a 5.25% tax rate but at a zero rate if they used the funds to buy "manufacturer’s equipment."

Santorum’s plan cleverly melds the interests of social conservatives and business. This should play well in future GOP primaries. If he somehow gets the nomination, he’ll still have to explain the huge hole he’d blow in the budget. But I don’t suppose he’s much worried about that now.


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Jan 6, 2012 5:36PM

I am SO sick of hearing about how the rich don't pay their fair share of the taxes.  I am a working middle class American.  I am sick and tired of paying for these people who don't do anything but sponge off of the rest of us.  Most of these whiners are people who don't even pay any income tax. We have a REAL BIG problem here in the US, we have more and more people who feel entitled to government assistance.  Many because they are lazy and don't have any ambition to do better.  The Democrat party loves those people.  As long as they keep you poor and dependent on them, you will vote for them.  Has your government checks made you any better off?  Do you possibly think that if you got an education or some kind of training that you might have a better quality of life?  Get used to it - LIFE IS NOT FAIR!!!!  Go cry about that!!!!


Jan 8, 2012 9:50AM
Hike the tax on the poor 60%? How do you do that if they don't pay any tax?What is 60% of 0
This guy Santorum is a moron if there ever was one..  He wants to cut social security benefits.  Social security is the most successful government program in American history.  It's got a surplus of $2.6 trillion and is financially solvent for the next 25 years with no adjustments whatsoever, unlike our Treasury, which he helped put $12 trillion in debt when he was a senator, and which is now $15 trillion in debt.  He should learn to clean up his own mess before he starts messing around with other people's money.  If Romney doesn't beat this creep, Obama will.  
Jan 8, 2012 9:39AM
They are all hypocrites Look at Nancy p worth 35 million made 300,000$ insider trading deal and exempted friends and business she deals with from the health care bill
Jan 8, 2012 9:56AM
Well I don't know why the idiots on this board consistently defend the wealthy against their own best interests, The wealth class has never had it so good , their taxes have been cut repeatedly to the lowest levels ever while the middle class have had there taxes raised in order to make up for lost revenue (3 times in 80's alone). According to these brainwashed tools of the right (I'm independent by the way) everyone in the lower classes are just lazy and looking for a handout. The truth of the matter is half the country is in poverty or just above just above it, and need assistance just to survive this hellish collapsing economy. I hope every one of you self -centered heartless people fall on hard times and get a lesson in humility.
Jan 8, 2012 9:31AM
When over 2 million is spent to put energy windows in abandon buildings and 2 mil more to teach Chinese prostitutes to drink responsible, And tax payers putting up a I Hops in Washington I don't think it should be to hard to find places to cut spending.If you want to see whats coming nation wide look at Cal. If you can make money (and pay tax) you move out.If you want a handout you move in. That why their money makers are going to other states and Cal gets nothing.
Jan 6, 2012 6:35PM
DeeJahy, you are SO correct.  I'm a middle class working self employed person. And, I am damn tired of the left's "tax the rich' argument.  The rich already pay 50-60% of all taxes.  We need to broaden the tax base and include everyone.  Maybe then those that pay no income taxes might be a little more interested in how their money gets spent on stupid, redundant , unnecessary programs that benefit no one except the people running the programs. Right now, they could care less as long as they get their check.
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