Chuck Schumer Opened Effort to Derail Tax Reform Spreading Fake News

Analysis: Democrat Minority Leader falsely says low-income families would see tax increase under new plan

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During his Wednesday press conference, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) announced his opposition to the newly proposed Republican tax plan and used a false statistic to argue it would raise taxes on working Americans.

"By repealing the personal exemption, Republicans are once again raising taxes on middle class and working Americans," Schumer said. "A family of two, on this framework, with a household income of $45,000 could see their bill increase by $1,000."

The claim put forth by Schumer does not add up. The proposal’s doubled standard deduction for married taxpayers filing jointly, from $12,600 to $24,000, more than makes up for the elimination of the $4,050 personal exemptions that would be eliminated in the proposal. Despite the tax rate increase, from 10 to 12 percent, the family of two would see its taxes decrease by about $200.

A spokesman for Schumer acknowledged that the minority leader misspoke during the press conference—the senator meant to say a family of four. Schumer did not correct himself during the press conference.

The spokesman sourced the claim to a string of tweets by Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor at University of Chicago Law School.

Hemel’s quick analysis finds that a family of four’s tax liability would increase by $910 under the Trump administration’s proposal, but, as he pointed out in the thread, his analysis didn’t take into account standard tax credits in either his calculation of the tax liability under the existing plan or the proposed plan.

Applying the child tax credit, $1,000 per child, and the earned income tax credit, which at a $45,000 income would be $1,089, the family would owe no taxes under current law or under the proposal.

Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy for the pro-tax proposal American Action Forum, was critical of Schumer’s decision to deploy such an incomplete figure: "The calculation was explicitly without any tax credits. He presented the family as having a positive tax liability, which isn’t true under current law or under the proposal."

"I’d say it’s a fairly suspect argument for the minority leader to be deploying against major legislation," Gray said.

Gray, who filed a sample tax form for the family under both scenarios that were shared with the Washington Free Beacon, acknowledged the refund for the family would be about $900 smaller if the tax credits remained equal in the current plan, but notes that the proposal explicitly points out plans to "significantly increase" the child tax credit in order to bridge the gap.

"I think its disingenuous when the framework specifically says they're going to increase the child tax credit to then just go and say, ‘Well, here’s what it would be if they didn’t do the thing they said they were going to do,'" he said. "You only do that if you really want to find fault."

Increasing the child tax credit is one of the top points on the administration’s one-page summary of its plan.

Gray calculated that it would take a roughly $450 increase of the child tax credit from $1,000 to bridge the gap between the two plans for the family. He argued that the increase is realistically within reach, given the House proposal by Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) to increase the credit to $1,500 and the Senate proposal by Republican Senators Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah) to bring it to $2,500.

Hemel acknowledged on Thursday morning the fact that an increased child tax credit would flip his calculation that the family would be worse off.

The proposed tax reform framework states the "larger child tax credit" would be one of the tools used to make up for the tax increase for families in the lowest bracket, but that the increase would be determined during the committee process.

Schumer has made the argument that taxes would be raised for lowest income Americans a centerpiece to his argument against the plan.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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