the national interest

President Trump Promises to Raise Taxes on Rich, Is Lying

He’s reversed his tax objectives, or he’s just saying what people want to hear. Photo: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trump administration is obviously nervous about the political optics of its intention to give rich people a gigantic tax cut. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s approach to the problem has been to insist over and over that it’s “not about” cutting taxes for the rich. President Trump has a different, blunter solution: Just tell massive lies about it.

In a new Wall Street Journal interview, Trump says his plan will raise taxes on the rich and cut them on the middle class:

“The people I care most about are the middle-income people in this country, who have gotten screwed,” Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, reiterating that he wants to bring down the corporate tax rate to 15%. “And if there’s upward revision it’s going to be on high-income people.”…

“I have wealthy friends that say to me, ‘I don’t mind paying more tax,’ ” the president said.

He added that “we have to take care of middle-income people in this country. They built the country. They started this whole beautiful thing that we have. And we have to take care of them. And people have not taken care of them, and we’re going to.”

In reality, the policy changes Trump has endorsed, while not fleshed out, would necessarily entail a massive tax cut for the rich. According to the Tax Policy Center, 40 percent of the benefit of his proposals would accrue to the highest-earning one percent.

In theory, it’s possible Trump has decided to repudiate his objectives and instead push through a tax plan that would do the opposite of what his current one would. But Congressional Republicans and the conservative movement regard the tax cuts as their payout for the aggravation and embarrassment of Trump’s presidency. They’re not going to go along with a tax-cut plan that raises taxes on the people whose taxes they are committed to cutting. In any case, the way Trump operates is that he just says whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear, with no regard for truth. So just as he has been promising his health-care plan would cover everybody while passing a plan that massively reduces coverage, he’s going to promise tax cuts for the middle class and higher taxes on the rich while doing the opposite.

President Trump Promises to Raise Taxes on Rich, Is Lying