No tax pledge yet from Donald Trump, Grover Norquist says

Story highlights

  • Grover Norquist wants Donald Trump to sign his anti-tax hike pledge.
  • Norquist says Trump has made a "good start" by committing verbally -- but not in writing -- not to raise overall taxes.

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump could raise taxes on hedge fund managers -- but he'd have to slash them "dramatically" elsewhere to avoid running afoul of Grover Norquist.

Norquist, the president of the Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that pushes politicians to sign a pledge against raising taxes, told CNN on Thursday that Trump hasn't necessarily crossed any lines -- yet.
"He has said he doesn't want any net tax increases. That's a good start," Norquist said. "That's the pledge, verbally. I'd like to see it in writing."
    He said he expects Trump sign the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" -- but that staffers he'd talked to about it are no longer with the real estate mogul's campaign.
    "I think we'll get there, because his staff said they wanted to -- but the guys I talked to got fired. So we'll check in with the new guys," Norquist said.
    Trump recently attacked hedge fund managers, saying they are "getting away with murder" and avoid paying taxes -- an apparent reference to the disparity between a 20% carried interest tax rate that hedge fund managers pay and the 39.6% top rate that applies to regular income.
    Trump has repeatedly said -- including in an interview with MSNBC Friday where he refered to hismelf as "the king of the tax cut" -- he wants to shift that tax relief to the middle class. Norquist said that's possible without violating the pledge and being accused of being a tax-raiser.
    "As long as you're dramatically cutting other taxes -- it's a net tax cut and overall rates are not going up, sure you can do that," he said.
    Still, he wasn't endorsing Trump's argument.
    "I think a smarter position is to reduce taxes on everybody else. I mean, his taxes are lower than yours -- let's fix that by raising his? No, no, no, no, no," Norquist said.
    "Let's fix that by cutting taxes on the middle class," he said. "If somebody's got a better deal than the middle class, let's get the middle class the same deal that those guys get -- not the other way."