Is Trump's latest tax shift GOP heresy?

As the presumptive Republican nominee gears up for the general election, he backtracks from his tax plan, which calls for lowering taxes for wealthy Americans.

Chris Tilley/Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in West Virginia May 5, 2016.

In a move unexpected for a Republican presidential candidate, the party's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, said Sunday he is open to raising taxes on wealthy Americans.  

"They'll go up," the billionaire told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week." "I don't mind paying more. I'll be honest with you."  

Trump's remarks Sunday morning represent a reversal of his tax plan he put out in September, which calls for giving wealthy Americans a tax break. The richest quarter of Americans would pay 25 percent of their income in taxes, compared to the present rate of 39.6 percent.  

But before that, Trump had said he is in favor of raising taxes on wealthy Americans, including himself. Sunday morning, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump about this incongruity. In his reply, Trump said it plays into the art of the deal.   

"By the time it gets negotiated, it's going to be a different plan," he said. "Look, when I'm negotiating with the Democrats, I'm putting in a plan. I'm putting in my optimum plan. It's going to be negotiated."  

Trump's comments came after Republican party's two living former presidents and highest-ranking office holder said this past week they would not endorse him in the election.  

While Trump boasted that his plan raises taxes more than any other candidate has proposed, the plan also clashes head-on with an ethos within his party that resists raising taxes. In fact, Trump was only one of two Republican presidential candidates who declined to sign the Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," a time-honored snub at tax increases. The other candidate was Jeb Bush.

Yet, Grover Norquist, the organization's president, praised Trump's tax plan, calling it consistent with the pledge. And just last week, Mr. Norquist tweeted he would stand behind Trump's bid for presidency, assuming the alternative is Hillary Clinton.  

Only time will tell if Trump will stay true to his comments Sunday on ABC and earlier on NBC's "Meet the Press." Taxing hedge-fund managers is one of five "big" issues Trump has reversed his position on, reported The Washington Post on Friday. In a Fox News interview in August, Trump said hedge-fund managers should pay more in taxes, and he implied that Hillary Clinton was too close to Wall Street to force them to pay more. Under Trump's tax plan, hedge-fund managers would likely see their taxes reduced.   

Another issue Trump changed course on is an increase to the minimum wage, reported the Post. At a debate in November, Trump rejected a minimum-wage increase because he said it would hurt US firms' ability to compete with foreign rivals. On Wednesday and again on Sunday, Trump spoke in contrast to this position.  

"I haven't decided in terms of numbers. But I think people have to get more," he told Stephanopoulos. "But my real minimum wage is going to be — I'm going to bring companies back into this country and they're going to make a lot more than the $15 even. They're going to make a lot more than that."

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