Eric Hovde has favored tax hikes for low- and middle-income people - TAI News
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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde speaks on April 2, 2024, at a rally for former President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde, the millionaire chief executive of a Utah-based bank, calls himself a Wisconsin entrepreneur who can restore the American dream and rebuild the economy. The policy positions he has espoused over the past decade suggest he would try to do that by raising taxes for millions of lower- and middle-income earners and slashing them for wealthy people like himself.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has endorsed Hovde’s candidacy in the Aug. 13 U.S. Senate primary. If he wins the party’s nomination, he’ll face Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.

This is not Hovde’s first attempt to win the seat. In 2012 he unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination, running on a detailed plan to cut tax rates for the richest Americans and businesses. The plan called for reducing the corporate tax rate, which ranged from 34% to 39% at the time, depending on earnings, to a flat 25% and changing individual tax rates — then 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, or 35%, depending on income — to just two tiers at 10% and 25%. It would have eliminated nearly all deductions, which families use to reduce their tax burden if they have kids, mortgages, tuition, student loans, low incomes, adoption expenses, or charitable donations. 

“By lowering individual income tax rates across the board,” Hovde argued, “lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate welfare and nearly all of the loopholes and deductions that exist, we can provide much-needed relief for hard-working Americans, level the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses and create real and sustainable economic growth.”

For those earning less than $50,000 annually, losing virtually all deductions would likely have meant a tax increase. For millionaires like Hovde, it would have been a huge windfall. Given his own annual income of $2 million in 2011 and $5.8 million in 2010, a reduction from 35% to 25% could have meant a savings of up to $780,000 over that time. 

Hovde has not yet released his 2024 financial disclosures. A Hovde spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

In November 2017, Hovde explicitly proposed a tax hike for the poorest Americans and retirees. 

“Everybody should pay some level of tax, even if it’s a small amount, and you don’t want people just getting checks without having put in even $1 into the system,” he said during an appearance on the “The Vicki McKenna Show” radio program. “Everybody has to feel like they’re part of it and taxes matter to them.” An assessment by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation of a similar 2022 proposal made by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) estimated that such a plan could raise taxes for more than 100 million lower-income and retired Americans. A Center for American Progress Action analysis predicted doing so would cost poor families $1,624 per person, on average. 

President Donald Trump signed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by a GOP-led Congress, permanently cutting the corporate tax rate, slashing individual tax rates for the highest earners through 2025, minimally reducing tax burdens over that time for some working families, and actually increasing taxes for about 10 million families. Millionaires and billionaires saw their tax rate fall by 2.6%, and the national debt increased by between $1 trillion and $2 trillion over eight years.

Hovde endorsed Trump’s law, saying in 2019: “I’m not promoting President Trump, you know, whether you like him or not, the one thing — he has been good with the economy. … His deregulation program and obviously his tax reform act was very good for businesses.”

On his 2024 campaign website, Hovde warns that the nation faces a debt crisis, falsely claiming that the national debt has increased more under President Joe Biden than it did in the first 228 years of the nation’s history. He urges a dramatic reduction in spending but makes no mention of any revenue increases to curb budget deficits.

Hovde has not specified any 2024 tax plan but in a radio interview on May 2, he urged more “pro-growth tax policies,” business tax cuts that conservatives say will stimulate the economy and trickle down to workers.

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