Hillary Clinton's tax proposals are the topic of a not perfect, but nevertheless surprisingly excellent article by James B. Stewart in the New York Times. Highlights:
It's hard to imagine a tax code more complicated than the one we already have.
Hillary Clinton has come up with one....
all agreed that Mrs. Clinton's proposal would increase taxes on the rich and big business but that it would add so many new layers of complexity that it would, above all, be a huge boon for tax lawyers. "There's a lot of new complexity," said Mr. Burman ["director of the centrist Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.]...
Everyone I interviewed criticized as fiendishly complicated and ineffectual what is probably Mrs. Clinton's most innovative proposal, which is to put in place a graduated scale for tax rates on capital gains...It's supposed to curb "activist" investors and others focused on short-term results, and persuade corporate executives to manage for the long term rather than for quarterly profit, according to a speech Mrs. Clinton delivered at New York University in July 2015.
However laudable the goal, using the capital gains tax "is a misguided approach," said Mr. Burman (a view echoed by everyone I interviewed)... "It would be better if management faced more, not less, pressure from investors."...
Mrs. Clinton's proposals also do nothing to address the corporate tax rate, which, at 35 percent, is the highest in the developed world (though few companies actually pay anywhere near that rate). President Obama called for reducing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent in a compromise rebuffed by Republicans, but Mrs. Clinton would leave it at 35 percent and try to extract even more revenue by closing various loopholes.
Got that? Mrs. Clinton is to the left of even Barack Obama on the question of corporate tax reduction.
My favorite part of the article, though, was this sentence: "Several experts cautioned, as did the Clinton campaign itself, that Mrs. Clinton's tax proposals might well evolve after the election should she become president."
When the campaign itself is saying that the candidate's position "might well evolve" after the election, is it any wonder that Mrs. Clinton scores low on measures of trust with voters, or that a lot of people believe she will come around in support of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal after opposing it during the campaign? How is a voter supposed to decide who to vote for when the campaign is openly warning the electorate that the positions may "evolve" after the election?
A useful role for the press would be to press the candidate on the point: Hey Secretary Clinton, your campaign has been telling the New York Times that your tax positions "might well evolve" after the election. Are there any other issues where your campaign positions are like to "evolve" post election? If so, which issues, and in what directions can we expect them to "evolve"?
The precedent with the Clintons is that their post-election evolution is in the direction of higher taxes. Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 promising a middle-class tax cut but wound up raising income tax rates soon after taking office (though he did later cut tariffs through free trade agreements and signed a capital gains tax reduction passed by Republicans in Congress.)
When corporate executives change their stated positions after consumers or shareholders (or would-be-shareholders) make purchasing decisions, those executives are sometimes subject to lawsuits. If discovery in such a suit (or a criminal investigation, even) shows that the change of position was planned but not fully disclosed, sometimes the executives are charged with civil or criminal fraud.