Omar Falsely Claims Corporate Tax Cuts Could Pay For Progressive Proposals

Omar could theoretically tax corporate profits at 100 percent and still fall short of the required cash

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) / Getty Images
• August 6, 2019 1:15 pm


Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Mn.) suggested in a Monday tweet that because the United States could afford corporate tax breaks, it could also afford Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, and student debt cancellation.

The liberal nonprofit National Priorities Project estimated in 2013 that corporate tax breaks that year amounted to $176 billion and would reach $200 billion in 2019. Since then, the GOP tax bill tweaked the nominal corporate tax rate, lowering it from 35% to 21%, closer to the effective tax rate companies were already paying. The CBO predicts that corporations will pay around $245 billion in taxes in 2019, as opposed to the $352 billion they were predicted to pay before the tax bill.

Even under the most generous comparison  the pre-tax-bill 35% corporate tax without tax breaks vs. the current 21% corporate tax rate plus tax breaks  it's difficult to come up with more than $400 billion in lost revenue annually. By comparison, Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) told the Washington Post he expects Medicare for All alone to cost somewhere between $30 and $40 trillion over a 10 year period. That's in line with reports from the libertarian Mercatus Center and liberal Urban Institute, which both estimate that Medicare for All will cost around $32 trillion.

The pricetag for the Green New Deal is difficult to assess given how vague Democratic proposals are. But the right-wing American Action Forum estimates it would cost taxpayers between $52 trillion and $93 trillion over ten years, depending on whether one includes the promised ambitious social programs like "healthcare for all" and a federally guaranteed jobs program.

Canceling student debt is the relatively cheap proposal. Americans owe $1.6 trillion in student debt, but proposals from Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Ma.) would only cancel some of that debt and combine it with free college plans. Their plans would cost $2.2 trillion and $1.25 trillion.

Even with the lower-end estimate of a $83 trillion pricetag of Medicare for All, Green New Deal, and student debt cancelation, completely eliminating corporate tax breaks would pay for only a small fraction of Omar's proposals. Indeed, supposing average quarterly corporate profits remains steady around $2 trillion, Omar could theoretically tax corporate profits at 100 percent and still fall short of the required cash.

In another tweet, Omar suggested that the funds spent on the Pentagon, tax cuts to the rich, and fossil fuel subsidies could pay for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

Even under the unlikely scenario in which Pentagon funding was completely eliminated, the numbers provided by Omar only amount to $15.5 trillion over ten years, less than a fifth of the lower estimate pricetag for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.