Rand Paul’s Plan to Give the Economy a “Steriod Injection” Could Have Scary Side Effects

Like a $15 trillion deficit.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


On Thursday, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) unveiled his plan to give the economy a “steroid injection” by rewriting the country’s tax code down to a simple, straightforward flat tax of 14.5 percent on personal income and a 14.5 percent “business activity tax.” By Paul’s reckoning, this would save taxpayers billions and supercharge the economy almost immediately upon implementation. But at least one nonprofit group that advocates tax reform is saying that, just like a real steroid injection, Paul’s scheme to quickly bulk up the economy may have long-term and devastating effects for its health.

Setting aside all other questions about the credibility of a flat tax, nonprofit think tank Citizens for Tax Justice released its analysis of Paul’s proposal, and it’s ugly.

When the dust clears, this would leave the federal government with $1.2 trillion less in tax revenue in fiscal year 2016 if the plan were implemented immediately—a reduction of about one-third in total federal revenues. Over a decade, the plan would cost a stunning $15 trillion.

Ultimately, the fiscal realities of the tax plan might not matter. The flat tax has never caught fire as a presidential election issue. In 2012, Herman Cain had his “9-9-9” plan and Rick Perry suggested a 20 percent flat tax. Most famously, in 1996 there was Steve Forbes, who briefly looked like he could turn his magazine-famous name into a politically relevant one—but didn’t.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate