Jeb Bush takes up mortgage deductions

by Vernon Clement Jones15 Sep 2015
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has laid out a tax plan that seeks to limit what many politicians consider the third rail of deductions – mortgage interest.

He outlined the plan on a visit to North Carolina, a coveted swing state that holds its primary March 1 along with several other Southern states. President Barack Obama won the state in the general election in 2008, but Republican nominee Mitt Romney carried it in 2012.

“We need to jump-start our economy, and we can do that by fixing our broken tax code,'' Bush said. “It's a disaster.''

Bush said the tax code is “full of special favours, carve-outs, phase-outs and subsidies – that you pay for, one way or another.''

“My plan works whether you're on Main Street or Wall Street,'' he said. ``No special favours. No special breaks.''

Under Bush’s plan, the federal government would eliminate deductions for state and local taxes because they are “unfair'' to those living in low-tax states. It would also cap the mortgage interest deduction at 2% of adjusted gross income.

Still he would raise the standard deduction to $22,600 for married filers; $11,300 for single filers. Currently, married filers receive a standard deduction of $12,600; single filers, a $6,300 standard deduction.

William Gale, a former economic adviser to President George H.W. Bush and now co-director of the Tax Policy Center, said Bush's plan resembles part of Romney's 2012 plan, but the impact on government revenues and how it would grow the economy remains to be seen. ``It's a legitimate starting point for a debate,'' he said.

Democrats bashed the plan as ``more trickle-down Bush economics.''

“Bush is embracing a disastrous economic agenda that benefits himself, and those like himself, while leaving the middle class out to dry,'' said Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, in a statement.

The Associated Press 2015

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