Last week, Club for Growth Action launched an advertising campaign aimed at Iowa Republican caucus voters. In it, we posted pictures of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and asked: “Which presidential candidate supports higher taxes, national health care, and the Wall Street bailout?”
The answer, as the ad shows, is Donald Trump. Of course, Trump responded with a huge temper tantrum, ranting that he’s not – at least for the moment – a liberal.
So, what is Trump’s record on economic policies? And what would his views mean for Americans if he was elected president?
Trump himself said: “In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.” True. While Trump clearly parts ways with the Democratic Party on immigration policy, many of his statements on economic issues place him squarely in the mainstream of liberalism on economics.
In terms of taxes, Trump has said, “I know people making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes, and I think it’s unfair.” It’s typical liberal class warfare, and it’s factually wrong; not that wrong facts have stopped Trump before. The top-earning 20 percent of Americans pays 85 percent of all federal income taxes. But for Trump, that’s not enough and they need to pay more.
In a recent interview, Trump dismissed the flat tax and said he believes people who make more money “can pay a higher percentage.” When asked “How high?,” Trump took a long pause before giving a meandering answer without a number, but did say: “I wanna get rid of all this deficit.” Trump had the same idea before, when he proposed the largest tax in U.S. history – $5.7 trillion – to help pay off the national debt.
Take healthcare as another example. For years, Trump was certain that the U.S. needed universal, government-run healthcare. He says it still works “incredibly well” in other countries. At one point, the business mogul said it could be paid for “with an increase in corporate taxes.”
Now, Trump says he wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with, what he calls, “Donaldcare.” Don’t bother asking for specifics or how it will be paid for. Just take Trump’s word that it will be “absolutely great” and “really spectacular.”
Trump also has an affinity for trade wars. He wants to slap taxes of between 25 and 35 percent on the goods we import. To be clear, that’s billions of dollars in tax revenue for the U.S. government that will be passed along to American consumers and businesses in the form of dramatically higher costs. Get ready to pay more for your cellphone, your car, your shoes and clothes, your television, and all the parts, pieces, and materials that U.S. companies import to build their own products.
Trump is also fond of eminent domain — that’s when government takes private property for reasons it deems best. The Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.) opened the door for developers to take over private property in order to build strip malls. Conservatives despised the Kelo decision. But not Trump — he declared his “100% agreement” with Kelo. In fact, Donald sees eminent domain as a tool for government to pick winners and losers in economic development.
Trump’s choice to run as a Republican, with that record, shows he’s not really an outsider to the political realm – indeed the “say anything, do anything” approach to his candidacy makes him the worst kind of politician.
There is a profound sense in which Mr. Trump’s approach to the presidency is troubling – to both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives.
Trump seems himself as the strongman who will make things happen. Like a CEO, he seems to think the president can give orders and tell anyone what to do and how to do it, whether in government, in business, or in our homes and neighborhoods. So, when Trump says “I’ll call up the head of Ford and tell them that we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax,” he blows right past the Constitution, which spells out clearly that the president may not raise taxes and that only the House may start that process. The Constitution sets limits to stop strongmen like Trump from abusing the presidency to tyrannize American citizens.
While I share the anger that many Trump supporters have for politicians who won’t keep their promises to change Washington, Trump’s solutions only make matters worse.
Average Americans would be poorer, not better off. And by having a president who ignores the Constitution, American will not be greater. Indeed, Trump’s candidacy undermines our constitution and the rule of law – the essence of what makes the United States a great nation.
David McIntosh served in the House from 1995 to 2001. He is president of the Club for Growth.