Backtracking on tax cuts, tycoon Donald Trump targets the wealthy

A vendor sells Trump buttons at a campaign stop for US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Lynden, Washington, on May 7, 2016.
A vendor sells Trump buttons at a campaign stop for US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Lynden, Washington, on May 7, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is open to raising taxes on the rich, backing off his prior proposal to reduce taxes on all Americans and breaking with one of his party's core policies dating back to the 1990s.

"I am willing to pay more, and you know what, the wealthy are willing to pay more," Mr Trump told ABC on Sunday.

After effectively sealing the Republican nomination for the Nov 8 presidential election last week, Mr Trump has offered more details on his policy positions.

The billionaire real estate tycoon has said he would like to see an increase in the American minimum wage, although he told NBC on Sunday that he would prefer to see states take the lead instead of the federal government.

Mr Trump's call for higher taxes on the wealthy is a break with Republican presidential nominees who have opposed tax hikes for almost three decades.

Former President George H.W. Bush infuriated fellow Republicans by abandoning a pledge not to raise taxes and agreeing to an increase in a 1990 deal.

Democrats, including presidential front runner Hillary Clinton, have pressed for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans for years.

Mr Trump released a tax proposal last September that included broad tax breaks for businesses and households. He proposed reducing the highest income tax rate to 25 per cent from the current 39.6 per cent.

Pressed on the contradiction between his latest comments on taxes and the September tax plan, Mr Trump said he viewed his original proposal as "a concept" and that he expected it would be changed following negotiations with Congress.

"By the time it gets negotiated, it's going to be a different plan," Mr Trump told ABC.

The Clinton campaign said Mr Trump was trying to pander to voters beyond those who supported him in the Republican nominating contests and he had no intention of raising the taxes of wealthy people.

"Don't believe Donald Trump's weak attempts at a general election 'makeover' for even a second," a Clinton spokesman said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Backtracking on tax cuts, tycoon targets the wealthy'. Print Edition | Subscribe