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My view: Kasich beats Trump and Cruz on deficit

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a watch party at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a watch party at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo, AP

Both Trump and Cruz propose huge tax cuts that would add $10 trillion to $12 trillion to the deficit. By contrast, Kasich proposes to virtually eliminate the federal deficit!

Fortune magazine estimates that Donald Trump's proposed tax cuts "will expand the federal deficit over the next decade by $10 trillion — on top of the $10 trillion increase in the federal deficit already projected under current law."

He proposes to reduce the top tax rate on individual income from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and broadly reduce rates for everyone else. He would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. Yet he proposes no reductions in federal spending to offset his tax cuts.

Fortune cites two nonpartisan sources for this analysis. The Tax Foundation estimates that the Trump plan would cut tax revenues by $12 trillion, but says the cuts might generate more jobs that would spark $2 trillion of added taxes. But that still adds $10 trillion to the deficit. And the assumption of added jobs is also based on cuts in federal spending equal to the tax cuts — that are not in Trump's plan.

The Tax Policy Center first estimated Trump's plan would add $9.5 trillion to the national debt, but increased that figure to $11.2 trillion when it learned the Trump plan had no cuts in federal spending.

Trump specifically stated he would not do anything to cut the growth of Social Security and Medicare. Fortune stated, "If entitlement cuts are out of bounds, then he would need to slash all discretionary federal spending by 80 percent. This means debilitating cuts in defense budgets and key domestic programs like education and research."

Ted Cruz proposes a flat 10 percent tax on everything — wages, capital gains, dividends, etc. The corporate income tax would be abolished and replaced with a 16 percent business flat tax that applies to sales of goods and services.

Those cuts "would add $12.5 trillion to the debt by 2026," according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). That estimate is a middle range estimate, with some estimates lower and others much higher.

"Assuming this cost, balancing the budget would require cutting spending 47 percent to 87 percent, or annual economic growth of 9 percent." This year's projected growth is only 2 percent, less than a quarter of what would be needed. Cruz has proposed federal spending cuts of $500 billion over the decade. CRFB includes those cuts in estimating Cruz's plan costing $12.5 trillion.

Cruz has called for a "Balanced Budget Amendment," as has Trump. That sounds good, but is ridiculous given their specific proposals.

By contrast, Gov. John Kasich, who did lead an effort as a congressman that wiped out the federal deficit in 1997 — has proposed a plan to nearly balance the federal budget by 2025. His plan includes reforming the tax code and downsizing some federal programs.

CRFB called his plan "an encouraging commitment to deficit reduction." For individuals he proposes to reduce tax brackets from seven to three, with a top rate of 28 percent; to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low wage earners by 10 percent, to reduce capital gains to 15 percent.

He also proposes to raise $1 trillion of revenue by reducing some tax breaks (not including the charitable deduction and mortgage interest deduction). But he does not specify which tax breaks are to go — for individuals or corporations.

On the corporate side, he'd reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, allow business to write off the cost of all purchases immediately and double the R&E tax credit for small businesses.

He would reduce Medicare spending by about $525 billion through 2025, but offers no specifics. He proposes capping Medicaid outlays, and giving states a per-person allocation, and allow private insurers to provide coverage. These block grants to states would save $265 billion.

He will lead a bipartisan process to make Social Security solvent. He offers no specifics, but that could involve slowly raising the age for retirement, having upper income earners pay higher taxes and reducing cost-of-living adjustments.

Kasich would downsize other federal programs, such as directing federal transportation funding to the states, leaving the federal government to focus on safety and research. He would consolidate funding for education and job training into a few block grants to states and localities.

CRFB concludes, "Gov. Kasich's plan is a good start and his commitment to deficit reduction is a breath of fresh air in a campaign where tax cuts and spending promises have dominated the conversation. We look forward to seeing more details."

Amen. Kasich offers a refreshing contrast to Trump and Cruz.

Michael J. McManus is president of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To see past columns, go to and his search for any topic.