Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 20.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton "such a nasty woman" at the tail end of Wednesday night's debate.
His insult was wedged between Clinton's rundown of how she would shore up Social Security and Medicare and her contrasting that plan with Trump's. Here's what ticked off The Donald: Clinton noted that she and other wealthy people would pay higher payroll tax under her plan. That, she said, means Trump would, too, "assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it." Trump didn't like the snide reference to his accountants' deft ability to help him apparently avoid paying much, if any, income taxes over the years.
Perhaps Trump also sensed where Clinton was going with her critique of his ideas. Clinton went on to claim that his plan for huge tax cuts for corporations and individuals would add $20 trillion to the national debt, which would hamstring his ability to bolster Social Security and Medicare finances.
Trump didn't do much to deflect $20 trillion number Clinton tossed out. But he should have--that estimate is at the far end of negative predictions about the impact of Trump's proposed tax cuts. The problem, in Trump's view is that the estimate doesn't adequately predict the economic growth that his tax cuts would generate.
The American Action Forum, a right-leaning think tank, has estimated his tax and spending plans would add nearly $6.8 trillion to the U.S. debt over the next decade. The forum also predicted that Clinton's plan, which calls for higher spending as well as tax hikes, would add $1.5 trillion to the debt.
Here are some other estimates:
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget projects Trump will add $5.3 trillion to the debt in the next decade and Clinton's will add $200 billion.
The Tax Policy Center says Trump's will add at least $7 trillion whereas Clinton's will reduce the debt by $1.5 trillion.
So where does the $20 trillion figure come from?
That number also comes from the Tax Policy Center, which also extended its projections 20 years out. The group said unless Trump also imposes steep cuts in spending and entitlement programs, not only will annual budget deficits increase greatly but over time the cost of serving that debt will multiply. Trump's cuts "would yield persistently large, and likely unsustainable, budget deficits," the group said. So, over the next two decades the debt would actually spike by $24.5 trillion, according to the center, which is a a joint venture by the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
His plan is to reduce the number of tax brackets and dramatically reduce individual and corporate tax rates. That plus getting rid of the estate tax would reduce federal revenues by an estimated $9.5 trillion over the coming decade and an additional $15 trillion over the subsequent 10 years, the group said.
Trump's counter, such as it was, was to briefly assert that all these estimates fail to account for the economic growth, and resulting increase in tax revenues that growth would generate. "We're going to grow the economy. It's going to grow at a record rate of growth," he said last night.
His approach, he has maintained, is to revive growth first and then tackle the deficit and the debt.