Within hours, Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Donald Trump took two very different stances on taxes for the wealthy.
On Sunday, speaking with ABC’s “This Week,” Trump insisted that although analyses show that the detailed tax plan he released earlier in the campaign cycle would give the wealthy an enormous tax break, overwhelming the relief he would give to the poor and middle class, that that’s not what the final outcome will be. Instead, he insisted, the rich will pay more in taxes under President Trump.
“They will go up a little bit,” he said of the taxes paid by the wealthy. “In my plan they’re going down, but by the time it’s negotiated they’ll go up.”
When host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that is a different position than outlined in his plan, he responded, “It’s not a change, George. It’s a negotiation,” adding, “If I could get my plan approved the way it is now I’d be very happy. But it’s not going to happen… By the time it gets negotiated it’s going to be a different plan.” His plan is “just a concept,” he said. “We’re putting in policy. We’re putting in a statement. It’s just a concept.”
And what will the final result be for the rich? “In my opinion,” he concluded, “the taxes for the rich will go up somewhat.”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 8, 2016
Yet the very next morning he had changed that stance. In an interview Monday morning with CNN, Trump insisted that his position had been “misrepresented” by reports saying he wants to increase taxes on the rich.
“Everybody’s getting a tax cut, especially the middle class. I said I may have to increase it on the wealthy,” he said. “If I increase it on the wealthy, that means they’re still going to be paying less than they’re paying now. I’m not talking about increasing from this point, I’m talking about increasing from my tax proposal.” He concluded by saying the wealthy “will be getting a reduction.”
— New Day (@NewDay) May 9, 2016
That statement doesn’t just contradict what he said the day before, but what he’s said of his own plan in the past. In a debate in April, he said that under his plan, “The very rich are going to end up probably paying more.”
Trump’s insistence on lowering taxes on businesses and the middle class is also founded on shaky ground. On Sunday, he said, “What I really want is lower on business, because business we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world, and lower on the middle class. The middle class in this country is getting decimated.”
Yet the United States is one of the lowest-taxed developed countries in the world, and while the official corporate tax rate is higher than in some other countries, the effective rate corporations pay is much lower. And while the middle class has declined over the years, when it comes to taxes it’s paying a lower rate than in the 1990s.
Trump did admit to changing his stance on a different economic issue. Earlier in the campaign, he had said he “would not” raise the minimum wage and that wages are “too high.” Last week, however, he said he was “looking at” raising the minimum wage. When asked by Stephanopoulos on Sunday whether that stance represents a change, Trump replied, “Sure it’s a change, I’m allowed to change. We need flexibility.”
He went further on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying, “I would like to see an increase of some magnitude,” and, “I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour.” But he added, “I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.” That means, though, that all three candidates running for president support a higher minimum wage.