The GOP breakup

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This pretty much captures the conflict Republicans are now going through. Look at it from an economic standpoint (via the Washington Post):

We have now seen tax plans from the GOP candidates, and despite their “populist” packaging, it turns out, as Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, that “all of them would also ensure that the top one percent comes out way ahead.” The Rubio and Bush plans contain middle class tax relief, but when viewed in the larger context of who would benefit most from them, it has the feel of political window dressing, as Ponnuru concludes: “Republicans would probably be better off in the general election next year if their plans weren’t quite so favorable to the rich.”

The GOP candidates apparently think they can cite their plans’ middle class tax relief — combined with soothing supply-side sweet-nothings — to make the cuts for the rich more palatable in a general election. Bush’s campaign has road-tested the argument that his plan would result in top earners paying a larger share of the overall tax burden, which is a diversion. Rubio has gamely suggested that his plan’s elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends would help create jobs for bartenders like his father.

But Trump’s suggestion that his rivals will “let” Wall Streeters get away with paying too little in taxes threatens to let Republican voters in on the joke. Ross Douthat has suggested that as a billionaire, Trump could actually be more credible in this regard, since he is letting you in on the secret, from the inside, that “high finance can afford higher taxes.” And guess what, Trump seems to be saying, it won’t destroy the economy or cost your bartender father his job. Trump has been in on the joke for a long time, and the joke’s on you. But the joke is over.

We’ll see how this pans out in the coming months. But one thing’s for sure. Trump is not going away.

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