Fox Business moderator Neil Cavuto asked Ben Carson on Tuesday whether God thinks his flat tax proposal is more fair than Donald Trump's plan to tax the wealthy at higher rates than the poor. After a meandering answer, Carson essentially said that Trump's plan was better.
Carson began by saying that he supported the proportionality of the Biblical tradition of tithing -- a practice that applies to the amount families are expected to contribute to the church.
"When I say tithing, I am talking about the concept of proportionality," Carson said. "Everyone should pay the same proportion of what they make. You make $10 billion, you pay $1 billion. You make $10, you pay $1. You get the same rights and privileges. I don't see how anything gets a whole lot fairer than that."
Moving to a flat tax, of course, would require significantly raising taxes on the poor, who currently not only do not pay federal income taxes, but receive net positive benefits from the tax system. So long as the rate Carson picks for his flat tax is lower than 39.6 percent, he would be cutting taxes on the rich while raising them on the poor. Carson has alternately suggested 10 percent and "something closer to 15 percent" as his preferred flat tax rate.
But after calling to eliminate all deductions, Carson shifted his stance.
"I do care about the poor people," he said. "And in the system that we're putting together, there will be a rebate for people at the poverty level."
Providing a rebate for the poor lowers their tax burden, resulting in a flat tax that isn't actually flat. In other words, it's a system in which the rich pay more taxes than the poor. Which is what Donald Trump supports. Carson, in other words, eventually came around to saying Trump was right: The rich should pay a higher tax rate than the poor.
Although Trump's tax plan taxes the rich at a higher rate than the poor, it nevertheless overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy by dramatically cutting taxes for rich families while providing relatively small perks for the poor. A full 37 percent of its economic perks flow to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. It would also increase the national debt by over 75 percent, according to conservative economists.
Read more about the Republican candidates' tax proposals here.
See the latest updates on the GOP debate here.
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