When I posted this item yesterday -- marveling that Trump's social media director decided to proactively showcase 1991 testimony in which Democratic 'expert' witness Donald Trump ripped Ronald Reagan's tax cuts as 'catastrophic' for the country -- quite a number of foot soldiers in Trump's hyper-aggressive online army castigated me for grilling up a nothing-burger. He used to be more liberal, but now he's a conservative, they explained. He changed his mind. Who cares? My response, as noted in the post, pointed to Trump's very recent criticisms of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for not raising taxes in order to close a fictional budget deficit (an attack that Trump falsely blamed on Time magazine when called out on his misstatements, then continued to level anyway). This leopard hasn't changed his spots. He's still a tax-and-spend liberal who opposes urgently-needed entitlement reforms to stave off the very debt crisis he regularly warns about on the campaign trail. But look at his current campaign's tax plan, Trump defenders shoot back, ignoring his left-wing slams on Walker. What really matters is what he's proposing now. For the sake of argument, let's grant this point. Here's what Trump is calling for, via his own website:
If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households – over 50% – from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, “I win,” those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each. All other Americans will get a simpler tax code with four brackets – 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% – instead of the current seven. This new tax code eliminates the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II.
This plan would not only reduce the number of tax brackets, it would lower the top rate from nearly 40 percent today to 25 percent -- the exact same top rate cut that Trump opposed as a 'disaster' in the wake of Reagan's reforms. Setting aside that flip-flop, Trump's campaign says his restructuring of the tax code would be "revenue neutral" thanks to some alterations to corporate taxes and reductions of loopholes and deductions for wealthy taxpayers. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation disagrees, projecting that even after applying the sort of "dynamic scoring" that accounts for GDP growth associated with tax cuts, Trump's plan would add $10 trillion to deficits. It would also amount to a net tax cut "for taxpayers at all levels of income," including the wealthiest Americans. See? He's a tax cutter now, regardless of what he may have said in the past, such as advocating the largest tax increase in US history back in 2000. Over to you, Donald Trump:
GUTHRIE: Do you believe in raising taxes on the wealthy?
TRUMP: I do. I do – including myself. I do.
That was...this morning, in an interview that featured some other controversial statements. In fairness to Trump, he's been using the "raise taxes on rich people like me" line for months, embracing Obama-style class warfare tax gimmicks like the 'Buffet Rule.' But raising taxes on anyone, an outcome Trump just re-endorsed, is not what his formal policy agenda proposes. Just the opposite. As we've seen on issues such immigration, abortion and foreign policy, Trump routinely makes clear that he isn't familiar with his own positions. His stances aren't rooted in conviction, coherent ideological underpinnings or governing philosophy. They "evolve" and morph depending on how Trump is feeling in any given moment. Some professed conservatives may be perfectly comfortable voting for a tax-hiking, entitlement reform-opposing critic of Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. But many Republicans, including a 62 percent majority of GOP primary voters thus far, aren't eager to turn the keys of the party over to someone whose record and current statements build a strong case against the proposition that he's reliable conservative -- or much of a conservative at all. Parting thought: It's astonishing that this man appeals to people who loathe establishment "insider" types. Earlier in the answer above, longtime Democratic donor chuckles with multimillionaire celebrity newsman Matt Lauer about all the fancy parties they've attended together with hotshot bankers in New York. Man of the people.