Trump on tax cuts for the rich in his tax plan: “I am not necessarily a huge fan of that”

Greg Pollowitz is keeping a list.

Yep, although Trump choosing a finance chair who’s a hedge-fund manager (shudder) who used to work for Goldman Sachs (shudder) and is known for donating to Democrats (shudder) also constitutes, if not a “flip-flop,” at least a betrayal of his populist ethos.

No worries, though. I’m sure this is the last one.

Trump put out a tax plan last year that included major cuts to income, estate and business taxes for the ultra-wealthy along with less generous cuts for the middle class. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated his plan would cut the tax bill for the top 1 percent of earners by about $275,000 a year on average and for the top 0.1 percent by $1.3 million. The overall cost would be $9.5 trillion over a decade…

But that was the old Trump. Pressed by CNBC on Thursday as to how he could simultaneously brand himself as a populist who will take on wealthy elites while proposing sweeping tax cuts for billionaires, Trump backed away from his plan.

“I am not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he said. “I am so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”

Trump described his tax proposal, which was the most detailed policy paper he put out in the campaign, as merely a starting point for a future deal.

If it’s just a starting point for a deal, why would the master negotiator start negotiating against himself? Wait for a Democratic counteroffer, then hint that you’re willing to come off your numbers on tax cuts. Signaling up front that you’re petrified of losing your populist cred if the left starts hammering you for worrying more about the rich than the middle class gives them an incentive to drive a harder bargain. Good lord.

Between this and the language Trump used yesterday in talking about the minimum wage, it looks like his flip-flop strategy for the rest of the year will be to not quite flop but rather suggest that he might. He didn’t say he’d now support raising the minimum wage, he said, “I’m looking at that.” He didn’t say he’d reverse the tax cuts in his plan, he said, “I am not necessarily a huge fan of that.” Which is the real Trump, the liberal who’s pretending to be Republican but will revert to liberalism once in office? The plutocrat who’s pretending to be a populist but will revert to plutocracy once in office? Or the nationalist reactionary he became in time for this year’s Republican race? Dunno. Maybe Trump doesn’t know either. Roll the dice, see what turns up!

At the very least, you know that he’s serious about mass deportation. He has to be. It’s his signature promise, the heart of his populist appeal. Although … what if a bunch of eggheads sat him down and gave him reason to believe that if he followed through, the economy might tank and his job approval would turn, in Trump parlance, not so terrific? Hmmm.

Donald Trump’s vow to round up and deport all of America’s undocumented immigrants if he is elected president could shrink the economy by around 2 percent, according to a study to be released on Thursday by conservative think tank the American Action Forum.

The research adds to concerns about the Republican presidential nominee’s policy proposals, which range from tearing up international trade agreements to building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

About 6.8 million of the more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally are employed, according to government statistics. Removing them would cause a slump of $381.5 billion to $623.2 billion in private sector output, the Washington-based non-profit said in its analysis.

Would President Trump, hero of the common man and utterer of unspoken truths, dare run away from his signature immigration proposal? Roll the dice, see what turns up. Although, if he does run away from it, I’m not sure that would count as a flip-flop. The guy’s been pushing for a “touchback amnesty” since last summer. It’s basic logic that if all you’re going to do is readmit most of the illegals you’ve deported, it’s an absurd waste of resources to go to the trouble of deporting them in the first place. Which is the real Trump, then, the fierce border hawk who’s going to send all the illegals home and then maybe change his mind about the amnesty? Or the centrist who doesn’t want any economic upheaval while he’s trying to grow GDP and who’ll change his mind about sending them home instead? Roll the dice, etc.