How Trump clarified his position on taxing the wealthy

Donald Trump: My debt comments were misrepresented
Donald Trump: My debt comments were misrepresented

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  • Trump says taxes on the wealthy could increase during his presidency
  • He also said he supports an increase in the minimum wage

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump clarified Monday that he doesn't plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in the aggregate, despite seemingly saying so during interviews aired Sunday.

"On my plan they're going down. But by the time it's negotiated, they'll go up," Trump said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
    But Trump told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day" that he was referring to changes to "my tax proposal" -- not the existing tax code -- when he said rates could go up. He meant to communicate that he was open to top rates higher than those in his proposal as part of the negotiations to get tax reform passed, but also maintained they would remain lower than the current rate.
    "Now, if I increase it on the wealthy, they're still going to pay less than they pay now," the presumptive Republican nominee said. "I'm not talking about increasing from this point. I'm talking about increasing from my tax proposal."
    On Sunday, Trump said his tax plan is the starting point for negotiations with Congress.
    "We're going to submit the optimum," he said of his tax proposal. "That's what I'd like to get and we'll fight for it. But from a practical standpoint, it's going to get renegotiated. And in my opinion, the taxes for the rich will go up somewhat."
    He said the points in his tax plan he's most intent on keeping are tax cuts for the middle class and businesses -- particularly those that have refused to bring profits earned overseas back into the United States. He'd like his plan to incentivize them to return the profit to the U.S.
    "And I will fight like hell for that," he said.

    'It's a concept'

    He said his current tax plan is just an opening bid for Congress, acknowledging it would be changed, especially by Democrats who would insist on higher taxes on the rich.
    "It's a concept. And I'll tell you what the real concept is, lower taxes for business, lower taxes for the middle class, lower taxes for everybody," Trump said.
    "And then we're going start negotiating. So if I want to get lower taxes, which is very important to me, I'm not going to put in high taxes. And I'm not even going to put in what I necessarily want. I'm going to put in lower than I want, and we're going to negotiate," he added.
    Trump said he personally would be willing to pay more in taxes.
    "I am willing to pay more," he said. "And you know what? Wealthy are willing to pay more. We've had a very good run. You know, we hear all about Obama, we hear all about -- we've had a very good run."
    In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Trump also said businesses may wind up paying a higher rate than he proposes in his plan -- although they'd still see a tax cut overall.
    "Our businesses pay more taxes than any businesses in the world. That's why companies are leaving. So they may have to pay a little bit more than my proposal," he said.
    He said: "Under my proposal, it's the biggest tax cut by far, of any candidate by far. But I'm not under the illusion that that's going to pass."

    Minimum wage

    Trump said last week he was "looking at" possibly raising the minimum wage and was "open to doing something with it," during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
    On Sunday, Trump was pressed by ABC's George Stephanopoulous over his change in position.
    Trump, who opposed an increase during the Republican primary, told ABC: "I am looking at it and I haven't decided in terms of numbers. But I think people have to get more."
    Pressed on that being a reversal from his primary stance, Trump said: "Well, sure it's a change. I'm allowed to change. You need flexibility, George, whether it's a tax plan where you're going to -- where you know you're going to negotiate. But we're going to come up with something.
    "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," he said. "They're going to make a lot more than that."
    On NBC, Trump reiterated his support for a higher minimum wage, but said he'd rather let states set the floor wage, not the federal government.
    "I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour. But I would say let the states decide," he said.