Trump Walking Back Tax Plan, Wage Position

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GOP Republican Candidate Donald Trump Holds Rally In Lynden, Washington
”Nobody knows more about taxes than I do, and income than I do,” Trump insisted on Sunday.Photo: Matt Mills McKnight/2016 Getty Images

Less than a week after securing his presumptive GOP nominee status, Donald Trump is already revising some of his policy positions. Across two interviews on Sunday morning, Trump both backed off part of his tax plan — one of the only substantive policy proposals he has yet to release — and seemed to be changing course compared to his previous comments about wages. On ABC’s This Week, Trump admitted to host George Stephanopoulos that his tax proposal, “by the time it gets negotiated,” was “going to be a different plan.” What will be different? According to Trump, probably a higher tax rate on the wealthy. 

The rich is probably going to end up paying more,” Trump told Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, adding on This Week that, “I am willing to pay more, and you know what, the wealthy are willing to pay more.” Trump’s tax plan, which he released in September, indicated he would cut taxes for everyone, including the wealthy, who would only have to pay a a rate 25 percent under his plan. On Sunday though, Trump insisted that while he was proposing that new lower rate for the wealthy, their taxes would in likely end up higher than that following negotiations with Democrats over the plan, though not higher than what they are now. Trump also said he would insist that the proposed tax cuts in his plan for businesses and the middle class would remain. So instead of his plan being his actual plan, it’s actually just a “floor” to get the negotiations started, and Trump fully expects to have to ditch the tax rate he proposed for the rich during those negotiations.

The other new position that Trump had this week was that he is now in favor of a higher minimum wage, after previously having complained back in November that wages were “too high.” On Wednesday, Trump seemed to indicate he was willing to consider increasing the Federal minimum wage, noting on CNN that “I’m looking at that, I’m very different from most Republicans.” Added Trump, “You have to have something you can live on. But what I’m really looking to do is get people great jobs so they make much more money than that, much more money than the $15.” Sunday on This Week, he reiterated that position, saying that “I am looking at it, and I haven’t decided in terms of numbers. But I think people have to get more.” Sunday on Meet the Press, Trump added, “I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

So just to be clear, absent from his new statements is any real plan to have the federal government play a direct role in raising the minimum wage — beyond providing some rising-tide-lifts-all-boats improvement for the economy — but it still marks a reversal from his earlier comments, and may be evidence the candidate is trying, in his own vague and Trumpian way, to make a kind of pivot to the general-election fight, now that the GOP is stuck with him.

Pressed about these position changes by Stephanopoulos on ABC, Trump insisted that, “Sure, it’s a change. I’m allowed to change. You need flexibility, George, whether it’s a tax plan, where you’re going — where you know you’re going to negotiate. But we’re going to come up with something.”

Needless to say, Trump revised positions aren’t likely to assuage fears within the Republican party that he’s not the best choice to represent them in November.