Reagan Adviser: Trump Has ‘Been On Every Side On Every Issue’
Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, say Donald Trump’s positions have been completely inconsistent, depending on the year and the need at the time.
To a large extent Trump’s policy contradictions reflect his rapidly shifting political alliances over the past 15 years.
In 1999, Trump quit the Republican Party, saying “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.” Trump was then conferring with political consultant Roger Stone about a possible presidential run as a candidate of the Reform Party, the political organization founded by his fellow billionaire Ross Perot.
In 2001, Trump quit the Reform Party to register as a Democrat. “It just seems that the economy does better under Democrats,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2004. The Clintons attended Trump’s Palm Beach wedding to former model Melania Knaus in 2005. The following year Trump gave $26,000 to the House and Senate campaign committees.
By the late aughts, though, Trump’s political giving had started shifting back to the GOP, and in 2009 Trump registered again as a Republican. Two years later he registered as an independent while contemplating a third-party bid.
It was during Trump’s leftward drift in 1999 that he first proposed a wealth tax — a one-time 14.25 percent levy on fortunes more than $10 million that inequality guru Thomas Piketty might salivate over. “The concept of a one-time tax on the super-wealthy is something he feels strongly about,” Stone told the Los Angeles Times.
Trump said the tax should be used to pay off the national debt and help bolster the Social Security fund. He criticized presidential candidate Steve Forbes for favoring a flat tax, which Trump thought unfair to the poor. “Only the wealthy would reap a windfall,” Trump wrote in his 2000 book.
Trump never disavowed the wealth tax, and his campaign won’t say whether he still favors it…
Trump overcame his moral objections to the flat tax. On April 15, he told Fox News that he’d like to replace the income tax with “either a fair tax” (i.e., a national sales tax), “a flat tax or certainly a simplified code.” He also proposes repealing the corporate income tax because, he wrote in his 2011 book, it would “create an unprecedented jobs boom.”
“He’s nothing if not inconsistent,” said Bruce Bartlett, a onetime tax aide to the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R.-N.Y.) who excoriated Trump’s wealth tax 16 years ago in the Wall Street Journal. “He’s been on every side of every issue from every point of view as far as I can tell.”
In the 2011 book, Trump outlined a radically simplified income tax reducing the current seven tax brackets to four, with a top marginal rate of 15 percent for incomes above $1 million. (The top rate now is 39.6 percent, which kicks in at less than half a million.) Last month, the liberal nonprofit Citizens for Tax Justice said this “would provide the wealthy with huge tax cuts.” Taken in their entirety, CTJ concluded, Trump’s more recent tax proposals would “create a multi-trillion dollar hole in the federal budget that Trump has not outlined any substantial plan to fill.”