Trump flip flops on raising taxes, minimum wage

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Donald Trump’s vacillation over hiking taxes on the wealthy and boosting the minimum wage opened huge target zones for critics from both the left and the right, and fed concerns among voters – even committed conservative Republicans – that they can’t trust the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

In a back-and-forth session on the NBC News show “Meet the Press,” broadcast Sunday, Trump seemed to step back from a tax plan that he unveiled last year and that called for broad tax cuts, including levies on the wealthiest Americans.

“I’m not under the illusion that that’s going to pass,” Trump said in the Sunday broadcast, calling the tax plan a proposal that would provide a starting point for negotiations with lawmakers. “They’re going to want to raise it for the rich. Frankly, they’re going to want to raise it for the rich more than anybody else.”

“The rich is probably going to end up paying more. And business might have to pay a little bit more,” he said, according to an NBC transcript. The same day, on the ABC News show “This Week,” Trump allowed that he’d be okay paying a higher tax rate:

“I am willing to pay more. And you know what? The wealthy are willing to pay more,” he said, according to the New York Post.

On Monday morning, the New York billionaire told cable news channels CNN and Fox Business that in the course of negotiating over his tax proposal, he might have to increase the plan’s tax rates for the rich.

“Now if I increase it on the wealthy, that means they’re still going to pay less than they pay now,” the former reality television star said on CNN, according to the Post. “I’m not talking about increasing from this point. I’m talking about increasing from my tax proposal.”

He reiterated the point on the Fox channel later in the morning, the Post reported.

His comments prompted some observers to question how they can trust what he says he believes and what he says will be his policies:

Earlier, Trump suggested he would support raising the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour.

“I am open to doing something with it,” Trump told CNN last week. “I’m very different from most Republicans,” Trump added, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I mean, you have to have something that you can live on.”

On the campaign trail, Trump at times declared that the current minimum was too high and made American employers less competitive with their global rivals. He also repeatedly said that people who want to earn a higher wage simply need to work harder.

On Sunday’s “This Week” broadcast, Trump said he was studying the issue and hadn’t decided where the wage floor should be, but said “people have to get more.” On “Meet the Press,” Trump declared that state governments should decide what the minimum wage should be.

The changing stances give critics plenty of chances to pounce. A Washington Post blogger pointedly referred to “suckers” in his take.

A former McCain adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, told Reuters that The Donald’s pronouncements left him confused.

“He’s gone from wildly unrealistic to impenetrable,” Holtz-Eakin told the news service. He said what Trump said about the results of negotiations with lawmakers made him “confused as to what he really wants.”

Speaking on the “Fox News Sunday” show, Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel questioned what to believe about Trump and his policy oplans:

“What part of that agenda are we talking about?” she asked, according to “When he put out his tax plan, or when he disavowed it this week and said he wasn’t a big fan of his own tax plan? When he said we cannot raise the minimum wage, and then he turned around this week and said, well, yeah, we probably can do that after all?”

Or as American Spectator writer Aaron Goldstein observed:

“If you’re still unclear about it don’t worry. Trump is bound to have a different position on Tuesday.”