There may be 17 Republican presidential candidates, but that doesn’t mean the party is offering broad ideological diversity. On the contrary, the massive GOP field features a legion of White House hopefuls who all say roughly the same thing on roughly the same issues. This is especially true on taxes – the one issue on which all Republicans have been united.
Well, maybe not all.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump began to flesh out his economic vision for America, and it includes raising taxes on the wealthy.Trump said during a Wednesday interview on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respectthat he would like to change the tax code.
Trump sat down with Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and surprisingly enough, he voiced his support for scrapping the carried-interest loophole, which taxes hedge-fund profits at a lower rate than usual income. Eliminating the Wall Street tax break been a priority for many Democrats for quite a while.
Trump went on to complain that multi-millionaires are currently “paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous.” After stressing his support for middle-class tax breaks – the Republican candidate has not yet outlined any specifics – Trump added, “I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing and it’s ridiculous, OK?”
So, Trump’s prepared to raise his own taxes? “That’s right. That’s right. I’m OK with it,” he replied. “You’ve seen my statements, I do very well, I don’t mind paying some taxes.”
In case it’s not obvious, no other GOP candidate is proposing anything like this. On the contrary, most of the field is rushing to sign Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, vowing never to raise any tax on anyone by any amount at any time.
But Trump is clearly not like other Republicans. The question then becomes whether or not a position like this is going to hurt him.
My suspicion is, probably not. The dirty little secret is that higher taxes on the wealthy are actually quite popular nationwide. Trump, his many, many faults notwithstanding, understands the nuances of conservative populism quite well – many of his far-right, working-class admirers don’t vote Republican because the party promises more tax breaks to the very wealthy and more giveaways to Wall Street. Rather, they support the GOP in spite of the party’s commitment to trickle-down economics.
The danger for any national Republican figure is that by calling for higher taxes on the rich, the party’s donor class will revolt, but Trump doesn’t care for one good reason: he’s already extraordinarily wealthy.
As a result, when the Club for Growth complains bitterly about Trump’s approach to tax policy, as it did yesterday, the pushback seems largely inconsequential. The candidate isn’t swayed, and the kind of voters he’s appealing to aren’t listening to the Club for Growth anyway.