The competition to reward the wealthy

Just about all of the major Republican presidential candidates have unveiled tax plans they’d pursue if elected, and the result has become a competition with a competition — GOP contenders aren’t just fighting for votes, they’re fighting to see who’s willing to give the biggest tax breaks to those who are already very, very wealthy.

For now, it looks like disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in this race, too.

The Tax Policy Center has run the numbers on Newt Gingrich’s tax plan. The verdict? Gingrich’s plan does more for wealthy American households than any plan released by the other 2012 candidates — and increases the deficit by trillions.

Gingrich would give the top 1 percent of U.S. households an average $430,000 tax cut, with their tax rate dropping 22 percentage points under the assumption that the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. Households with an income of more than $1,000,000 would get a whopping $760,000 tax break on average, heavily weighted by the top 0.1 percent, who’d get a $2.3 million tax reduction. By contrast, the bottom 20 percent would save only an average of $649 under the Gingrich plan — with their tax rate dropping just 1.5 percentage points — and more than half of that group wouldn’t see any benefit at all. And those earning $40,000 to $50,000 would get a tax cut of about $1,900 on average.

Those who make the least would get the least, with lower-income households getting almost no benefit at all. Those who make the most, meanwhile, would get the most, with multi-millionaires and billionaires — who’ve already benefited from exceedingly generous tax breaks over the last decade — poised to be rewarded even more in a Gingrich administration.

Matt Yglesias put together this chart, showing the breakdown by income, making clear that those in the top 0.1% — those making more than $8 million a year — stand to get the bulk of the reward under the Gingrich plan.

Pat Garofalo added that, under this approach, “The end result of the plan would be millionaires paying a lower tax rate than middle-class families.” Remember the recent debate over the Buffett Rule? Gingrich plans to turn it on its head.

And what about the deficit that Republicans occasionally pretend to care about? Gingrich doesn’t bother with the pretense — his tax plan would “add $1.3 trillion to the U.S. budget deficit in 2015 alone,” according to an analysis released yesterday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

President Obama was asked on “60 Minutes” the other day about the GOP presidential field, and he said, “It doesn’t really matter who the [Republican] nominee is going to be. The core philosophy that they’re expressing is the same. And the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark.”

Truer words were never spoken.