Donald Trump's Tax Philosophy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 18 2011 2:40 PM

Donald Trump's Tax Philosophy

It's the most conventional thing about his politics -- now, at least. In 2000, like I wrote in this piece , Trump favored a one-time massive surtax on Americans "with a net worth of more than $10 million" to wipe out the national debt. Evan McMorris-Santoro asked him about that in Florida.

TRUMP: Years ago, that would have wiped out the entire debt. It would have been a beautiful thing to do. But the world is different. Now you're talking about numbers that are so big, so astronomical, that what you have to do is put people to work, and you can't be raising taxes now. At the time, that would have been a terrific idea. We would have started out with no debt. But this is a different time, a different world.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So a Trump presidency might look at raising taxes?

TRUMP: No, it's part of my speech. No new taxes.

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Does this make sense to anyone? In 2000, Trump estimated that he could raise $5.7 trillion with this one-time tax on less than 1 percent of Americans. Maybe he'd raise less in 2011; maybe more. Let's say he could raise trillions anyway. Why not do that? Who'd going to be put out of work, exactly, if someone worth $10 million has to pay higher taxes one year, knowing that he/she will pay lower rates thereafter? This is the difference between appealing to anti-debt voters in 2000 and Laffer curve devotees in 2011.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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