Changing one’s mind in politics is done as easily as changing one’s clothes, but I thought Mitt Romney had taken the art of flipping his positions out of political convenience to a level never before seen in 2012. Donald Trump may actually have him beat in this regard, as Politico documents by showing all of his various positions on issues over the last two decades. Prepare for some serious whiplash. On taxes:
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. But the soak-the-rich tax went unmentioned in his 2011 book. Indeed, even as Trump excoriated President Barack Obama for “adding more to the national debt in three years than almost all the other United States presidents combined.” Trump offered no specific proposals to address 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.”…
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.”
So he’s gone from a big tax on the wealthy to cutting their taxes enormously and eliminating corporate taxes entirely, and from being against the flat tax to being for it. All without any indication of how he would fund the government, or what he would cut, to make up for the massive amounts of lost revenue. We could ask him, but he has not given a single substantive speech during the campaign so far. Literally, not one.
On gun control:
In Trump’s 2000 book he wrote, “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” But earlier this month Trump told the Web site Ammoland, “Gun-banners are unfortunately preoccupied with … magazine capacity, grips and other aesthetics, precisely because of its popularity. To the left every weapon is an assault weapon.” Trump also said: “I do not support expanding background checks. The current background checks do not work.”
From wanting to ban assault weapons to rejecting even background checks. On health care:
The most dramatic disconnect between turn-of-the-century Trump and Trump 2016 concerns health care. In the 2000 volume, Trump pronounced himself “a liberal” when it comes to health care because it is “unacceptable … that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million.” The solution? “While we work out details of a new single-payer plan,” Trump wrote, the country ought to consider a variety of ways to make the current system “work more efficiently.” Among these was “the idea of [tax-subsidized] health marts” that “would create a group of approved plans for employees or independents to select from,” i.e., Obamacare without the individual mandate.
But in the 2011 volume, Trump complained that Obamacare was a scheme by liberals “to drag America closer to a so-called ‘single-payer system,’ otherwise known as total government-run health care.” Trump expressed doubt that the number of uninsured (by then 46 million) was accurate, and questioned whether any effort should be made to cover them. He wrote that 20 percent aren’t even U.S. citizens (Undocumented workers, he failed to note, are Obamacare-ineligible.); 30 percent “have plenty of money to buy health care” because they earn more than $75,000; and 28 percent are young people who may “need a safety net” but don’t justify jeopardizing what he’s come to regard as “the world’s greatest health-care system.”
From “we need single payer” to “those Democrats are trying to force us into single payer!” Trump is making Romney look like a model of consistency. No one has any idea what he actually believes on policy questions, least of all him. But he’s absolutely sure that he should be president and that he is the greatest human being ever to walk the face of the earth.