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Rounds Wrong on Revenue: Fewer Refunds, Higher Taxes Don’t Keep up with Reckless Spending

Senator Rounds, Fiscal Fantasist
Senator Rounds, Fiscal Fantasist

Senator Marion Michael Rounds started his weekend by lying to his constituents about the Trump tax cuts. “Federal revenue is rising due to increased economic activity,” Senator Rounds tweeted yesterday for breakfast.

Rounds’s statement would have been bunk in August, when The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (the antithesis of Senator Rounds’s apparent governing philosophy) explained that the only way to honestly claim that federal revenue is up is to count revenues brought in under 2017 tax laws, before Rounds and Trump passed their unnecessary tax cuts for the rich. Count all federal revenues honestly, and we’re not even keeping up with inflation:

While individual income tax receipts have increased in nominal dollars since last fiscal year, this statistic paints a misleading picture in a number of ways. Specifically, it ignores reductions in other sources of revenue, doesn’t account for inflation, and relies in part on revenue raised by last year’s tax code. Considering the entire tax code and focusing specifically on this tax year shows that total revenue has declined between 4 and 9 percent.

Whereas individual income tax revenue has risen by 7.9 percent in the first ten months of fiscal year 2018 compared to the first ten months of fiscal year 2017, corporate tax revenue has fallen by over 28 percent. In total, nominal revenue has increased by only 1 percent – well below the rate of inflation [“Has Revenue Risen in 2018?” Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 2018.08.16].

Rounds’s claim remains dubious now. As John Tsitrian noted Friday, tax collections for Fiscal Year 2018 came in $202 billion lower than expected. According to the CBO, total federal receipts in October and November were up $14 billion, or 3%, from the same period last year. However, little of that appears tied to increased economic activity:

  • Corporate income tax collections rose $5 billion, mostly because the feds gave $8 billion less in refunds. That’s not increased economic activity; that’s an administrative change.
  • Excise taxes rose $8 billion, mostly because insurers are having to pay the Health Insurance Tax this year, which they didn’t in 2017 and won’t in 2019. That’s not increased economic activity; that’s a quirk of lawmaking.
  • Customs duties are up $5 billion, in part because of the Trump tariffs. That’s not increased economic activity; that’s Donald Trump raising taxes and Mike Rounds and Congress doing nothing to stop it.

Of course, Senator Rounds fails to put his spurious revenue increase in the most important context: income versus expenditures. CBO says that while revenues may be up 3%, federal outlays in the first two months are up 18% from last year. We took in $458 billion, but Rounds and Trump spent $761 billion.

Rounds is making stuff up when he cites “increased economic activity” as the only source of increased federal revenues. But even if the rich people’s tax cuts exerted any stimulatory effect, the cuts are not paying for themselves or the reckless, accelerated spending of the Rounds/Trump regime.

33 Comments

  1. John Tsitrian 2018-12-16 09:17

    Thanks, Cory. I also note in my blog that the 2.2 million jobs created in 2018 (as checked off by Rounds in his tally list) were just fine in that they matched the 2 million+ jobs created in 2016. We’ve been there and done that without the so-called stimulus of the tax cut. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/december-jobs-report/512366/ The main point of my piece you mention is my complaint about the hypocrisy of Rounds (and Thune) in their support for a tax cut that has taken federal deficits and debt to new highs after basically building their careers on holding the line against “unsustainable” deficits. These guys are phonier than a 3-dollar bill.

  2. grudznick 2018-12-16 09:26

    It is good corporate tax collections are down. Tax is bad, it is bad.

  3. Jason 2018-12-16 09:45

    Cory got a 20% tax deduction. Are you rich Cory?

  4. happy camper 2018-12-16 10:14

    Tsitrian is depressingly good at pointing out the hypocrisy it’s anything to get back in power stunning how establishment Republicans gave up their supposed values and accepted Trump. Politics really brings out the worst in people it happens on both sides still no excuse people fool themselves the ends justify the means or maybe they don’t even care. Sometimes I wonder if the United States is just too big to be manageable like the end of corporate conglomerates General Electric is a good case study bloat, malfeasance, and too much power at the top.

  5. jerry 2018-12-16 10:44

    “Small business owners may benefit from kinder tax treatment under the new law. They should think twice before becoming incorporated.

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act offers a 20 percent deduction for qualified business income from so-called pass-through entities, which include S corporations and limited liability companies.”

    You have to follow the criteria and limits to qualify for the 20% tax deduction. Do you jason?

  6. Jason 2018-12-16 11:18

    Do I what Jerry?

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-16 13:08

    Jobs! Ha! Brilliant, John! Rounds continues not to bend the Obama curve.

  8. Jason 2018-12-16 13:11

    Speaking of curves.

    When is the healthcare cost going to bend down like Obama promised?

  9. Dave 2018-12-16 14:05

    Jason, why do you constantly react to Cory’s posts with dumb questions?

  10. Daniel Buresh 2018-12-16 14:08

    Jason’s only responses are red herrings. When you can’t debate a topic without losing, throw out another topic. Jason is your typical trumpanzee. You can’t argue logic with people who use crazy mental gymnastics to justify just about anything.

  11. jerry 2018-12-16 14:16

    Do you qualify for a 20% tax deduction? Simple question to a simple mind like your’s jason.

  12. o 2018-12-16 19:40

    Jason, “When is the healthcare cost going to bend down like Obama promised?”

    I believe the answer (not to speak for the former President) is when we finally follow all the elements of the pathway he envisioned to provide those savings. The GOP cannot continue to both not follow the Obama pathway and blame hime for it not working. Once the GOP deviated, it became THEIR burden.

    Speaking of which — how is that “replace” legislation coming? Any day now I presume?

  13. Moses6 2018-12-16 20:41

    So their we have slick Mike who wants to build a wall.We have vets who cant get health care Enzi holding up bill on agent orange (Wyoming) we can’t get all veterans because of means testing priority 8 vets..Slick Mike and photo op Thune keep kicking can down the road,on Social Security.Thune wont talk about how much he will make on his pension When he retires.They don’t talk about health care for people but have the best available.And we still want you to vote republican sad.Sad when we cant take care of our vets and seniors pathethetic.

  14. Donald Pay 2018-12-16 20:54

    o,

    You nailed it. If you are trying to row a boat to get to the other side, you have to actually put some oars in the water and pull, rather than take a drill to the bottom of the boat. Republicans want people to die out in the middle of the lake, so they keep drilling holes.

    If Obamacare hadn’t been continually undermined by Republicans in statehouses and in Congress, it would have worked to decrease health insurance costs. Besides, when it passed everyone knew it needed to be tweaked as new information came in. That never happened because Republicans have no ideas, can’t use data to figure out what needs to be fixed and what needs to be left to work, and generally lack any interest in the health of the public. Republicans didn’t want to improve the ACA. They wanted to sink it.

  15. Donald Pay 2018-12-16 21:01

    Rounds’ was never very good at figuring out the state budget or state economics, as I recall. He did a piss poor job in South Dakota, so he has no credibility on this. The guy can’t even figure out basic revenue data.

  16. Nick Nemec 2018-12-17 04:31

    Mike Rounds is the guy who presided for years over a “structural deficit” as governor and passed a mess of to his replacement.

    Trickle down economics has been tried three times in my life. It didn’t work when Reagan was president, it didn’t work when GW Bush was president and it isn’t working when Trump is president. In every case deficits exploded, the rich got richer and the middle class got pinched.

  17. Jason 2018-12-17 06:06

    Nick,

    Trickle down economics doesn’t create deficits. Congress spending more than they take in does.

    Let’s discuss the Revenue each year since 1970. You up for that?

  18. Jason 2018-12-17 06:08

    o wrote.

    I believe the answer (not to speak for the former President) is when we finally follow all the elements of the pathway he envisioned to provide those savings.

    What exactly are those elements o?

  19. John 2018-12-17 08:34

    Federal republicans can’t, won’t manage a budget or the economy.
    Donald Trump Owns This Stock Market
    It wasn’t smart to dump a dovish Fed chief, run up the deficit, and start a trade war. Trump did all three. Bloomberg, December 10, 2018

    https://ritholtz.com/2018/12/market-turmoil-blame-trump/

  20. Moses6 2018-12-17 09:16

    It never seems to amaze, me that Rounds needed federal money to balance the budget.So show me subsidy queen Noem how you can do it without federakl money.Most people here know you got big buck for subsidies.

  21. jerry 2018-12-18 20:02

    Verizon just pulled off an amazing bit of skulldudgery, even for them. The trumpian tax cuts have now been proven big time as a giveaway to the billionaire boys clubs at the expense of taxpayers and workers. Here is how you vanish 4 billion dollars overnight.

    “Only a year and a half after it built Oath from the assets of the communications giants Yahoo and AOL, Verizon now says they’re virtually worthless.

    In a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, Verizon Communications Inc. said it was taking a $4.6 billion charge on the goodwill balance of Oath, the division it created in June 2017 after it spent billions of dollars to buy Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc.

    “Goodwill” is calculated by subtracting the current fair market value of the assets and liabilities of an acquired company from the price that was paid to buy the company.

    Verizon said in the filing Tuesday that it last assessed the Oath brand’s goodwill at $4.8 billion. Writing off $4.6 billion of that means Verizon now values Oath — including AOL and Yahoo subsidiaries like Yahoo.com, AOL.com, the Huffington Post, MSN and TechCrunch — at just $200 million on paper.” https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/verizon-signals-its-yahoo-aol-divisions-are-almost-worthless-n946846

    10,400 workers lose their jobs. But the good news is that investor’s like the move and Verizon is up 1% in the phony ponzi scheme called Wall Street.

  22. Jason 2018-12-18 20:40

    Jerry,

    How does the tax cuts tie into the Verizon issue?

    It’s like you are saying the Trump tax cuts made me buy a used car that was a lemon.

  23. o 2019-04-09 11:57

    I just finished my federal income taxes: instead of getting about $2,000 back as in past years, my wife and I will be paying about $2,000 in. The “tax break” lie is debunked in my middle-class household.

  24. mike from iowa 2019-04-09 12:33

    O, didn’t you get the promised $4000 raise? I remember a certain troll trying to deny the $4k raise.

  25. o 2019-04-09 15:18

    I was having less taken from my check monthly – not quite $47.00 a month less (my wife’s would be similar). That is not a $4,000 raise – nor does it make up for a $4,000 owed tax swing. In the forest of lost deductions, I come out behind where I was.

  26. mike from iowa 2019-04-11 16:24

    Back when I had a job that paid weekly, I had the employer take more withholding than was necessary so when taqx time came around I could expect a decent refund. Wingnuts and the IRS are putting a stop to that practice for next year, sounds like.

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