The Republican tax plan leaves a $1.5 trillion bill for the middle class to pay

If paid for with spending cuts, the bill leaves 71.6 percent of Americans worse off.

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Officially, the tax bill passed by the US Senate in the early morning hours of December 2 costs $1.45 trillion over 10 years, or $1 trillion after taking into account its effect on economic growth.

Those are the numbers of the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official arbiter of tax figures, but skeptics like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have argued that the true cost is substantially higher. If the many temporary provisions of the bill are made permanent (and Republican senators have insisted they will make them permanent), the true cost is more like $1.6 trillion to $2 trillion, and it continues to mount after 10 years are up.

That bill has to be paid for, somehow. Congress could keep rolling over the debt, yes, but historical experience suggests that tax cuts are typically paid for by tax hikes in the future. Republicans have suggested they want to finance the cuts by slashing entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Whether you pay for the $1.5 trillion through tax hikes or spending cuts, that financing changes who ultimately wins and loses under the bill. And a new study by the Tax Policy Center suggests that when you take financing into account, the vast majority of Americans lose out.

When the bill is paid for, it winds up hurting most Americans

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