Trump flip-flop list (updated):
Minimum wage ✔️
Self funding ✔️
Tax plan ✔️
— Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) May 5, 2016
Two days into his general election campaign, Donald Trump has already signaled he may abandon his positions on two major policy issues: a minimum wage increase and tax cuts for the rich.
Trump has never been known for his consistency: He took multiple positions on abortion in several days last month, and more recently shifted from promising to erase America’s $19 trillion debt in eight years to arguing it was actually a good time to borrow. Even on his signature issue of immigration, he’s flipped back and forth – sometimes in the same day – on whether he supports certain visas for legal workers.
Trump’s willingness to blithely abandon past positions has made conservative activists deeply skeptical, but it also presents a general election challenge for Democrats: How do you hold a candidate accountable for his positions after he has looked Americans in the eyes during a debate and, with a straight face, denied he ever held contrary views?
Take taxes. Trump put out a tax plan last year that included major cuts to income, estate and business taxes for the ultra-wealthy along with far less generous cuts for the middle class. Thenonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated his plan would cut the tax bill for the top 1 percent of earners by about $275,000 a year on average and for the top 0.1 percent by $1.3 million. The overall cost would be $9.5 trillion over a decade.
“I fight like hell to pay as little as possible,” Trump said at an event announcing his plan in September.
But that was the old Trump. Pressed by CNBC on Thursday as to how he could simultaneously brand himself as a populist who will take on wealthy elites while proposing sweeping tax cuts for billionaires, Trump backed away from his plan.
“I am not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he said. “I am so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”
Trump described his tax proposal, which was the most detailed policy paper he put out in the campaign, as merely a starting point for a future deal.
“You know, when you put out a tax plan, you are going to start negotiating,” he said. “You don’t say, ‘OK, this is our tax plan, lots of luck, folks.’ There will be negotiation back and forth. And I can see that going up, to be honest with you.”
It’s important to note that these disproportionately large cuts for the rich aren’t a minor side feature of his plan, they’re the heart of it. A whopping 67 percent of the overall cost of his individual tax cuts would go to toward benefiting the top 20 percent of earners and 35 percent of it would go to the top 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis.
Trump’s abrupt dismissal of his own tax plan, which he regularly cited on the campaign trail, came a day after he signaled a willingness to raise the federal minimum wage, which would be a major reversal from his stance in the primaries.