What Does Donald Trump Believe?July 19, 2015
Donald Trump's celebrity -- and not in the "Apprentice" way -- gives him the name recognition to make his presidential run interesting to fans and foes alike. His brash, unapologetic style refreshes those who have long tired of political double speak, while others may tend to dismiss or even encourage those statements of Trump's that may offend some or simply lack truth. The "truth" element is critical, as this, of course, is what many of Trump's fans crave and believe his unpolished delivery reflects. This belief that Trump's positions are theirs -- that he speaks those truths they believe -- is what can fuel his campaign's success over the long haul.
But Donald Trump has not commented much on his positions today, leaving many, including his fans, only wild speculation of his plans, should he win the White House next year. He has not put forth, for example, a tax plan for a Trump administration. Trump did, however, offer a radical idea to pay off the national debt back in 1999, proposing a one-time wealth tax of 14.25 percent on individuals and trusts worth more than $10 million -- enough to eliminate the debt, pairing this up with tax reductions for the 99 percent of Americans under that threshold. Was this a wise proposal? Hindsight offers ridicule, given the national debt today of over $18.3 trillion; a one-time wipeout of debt does nothing to address the systemic spending issue that has only worsened since 1999. Would an on-going wealth tax be the right solution? Does this wealth tax actually represent, as originally discussed, the type of brutal government-imposed redistribution of wealth that conservatives and libertarians generally abhor?
Trump doesn't stop there. He discussed the economic crash in its infancy with Neil Cavuto of Fox News in September 2008, giving his support to the $700 billion bailout package despised by proponents of private/public separation and free markets. This conflicts with Trump's own campaign Web site on which, in his own words, he "dedicates much of his time to media interviews in order to promote a Free Market." That's certainly not what he was advocating September 26, 2008.
Regarding health care, Trump wrote in his 2000 book The America We Deserve: "We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing." He talks up Canadian-style single-payer in the book, even accepting the tradeoff that doctors would earn less money but treat more patients. This line of thinking, aside from contradicting the aforementioned focus on a Free Market, also contradicts more recent claims Trump has made on health care. In an interview with Virginia-based radio host John Fredericks, Trump lamented, "...number one, the people that can do it, we’re going to get them plans that are so good and we’re going to break the borders, we’re going to go [to] the private plans. A lot of people had plans they loved before Obamacare came along. You probably did. I have friends that had really good plans — now they have horrible plans and they’re paying five times more for [them]." Trump has shifted from a single-payer approach 15 years ago to a new emphasis on private health insurance today without explaining why.
While Trump HAS changed his mind on abortion, he cites a pivot point in his thinking. In 1999 Trump declared himself "very pro-choice" - stating that he hates "the concept of abortion" but would do nothing to ban it in any way. Today he states, “I'm pro-life and I have been pro-life. It’s an issue and a strong issue.” Adding color, he describes how he has evolved on the issue: "If you look at it, I said, ‘It really, really troubles me, and it really, really bothers me, the whole concept of abortion.’ This was years ago, and even then it really bothered me, but I went on the other side of the line. But in thinking about it over the years, I’ve had instances, and one instance in particular, a friend had a child who they were going to abort, and now they have it, and the child is incredible. And the man, he changed his views also because of that. As I’ve grown older, as I’ve seen things happen in life, I’ve changed my views — and others have also."
Perhaps Trump has grown older on Second Amendment issues as well. In his book he states, "The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun." But as he discussed recently in the context of his 2016 presidential campaign, "“I am a Life Member of the NRA and am proud of their service in protecting our right to keep and bear arms. The NRA’s efforts to stop dangerous, gun-banning legislation and regulation is invaluable. The media focus on those efforts overshadows the great work the NRA does on behalf of safety and conservation."
For a voter who trusts Trump, his past positions and more recent changes may be easy to explain or accept. For most, however, Trump's answers today prompt more questions than providing a true understanding of his belief system.
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