The Trump Files: Donald Told Congress the Reagan Tax Cuts Were Terrible

Now he’s proposing virtually the same thing.

Mother Jones Illustration/Shuttershock

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on July 12, 2016.

Donald Trump loves to (falsely) complain at his rallies and speeches that America is “the highest-taxed country in the world.” His tax plan would slash income tax rates and deliver huge savings to the richest Americans. But he wasn’t always a fan of trickle-down, supply-side tax cuts.

In 1991, Trump told the House Budget Committee’s Subcommittee on Urgent Fiscal Matters that President Ronald Reagan had screwed up with his 1986 tax cuts, which cut the highest income tax rates nearly in half, from 50 percent to 28 percent.

“In the real estate business we’re in an absolute depression, and one of the reasons we’re there is what happened in 1986,” he said. “Something has to be done. It has to be brought back. It has to be reformed.”

Trump contended that the low income tax rates took away rich people’s reason to invest and that the economy as a whole suffered as a result. He recommended a return to much higher rates for the rich, arguing that they cause more people to invest in real estate. But he didn’t quite explain why that would happen. “The fact is that 25 percent for high-income people—for high-income people—it should be raised substantially,” he said. “I say leave the middle, leave the low—lower ’em. But people with money have to have the incentive.”

A tax rate of 25 percent (which Trump erroneously thought was the top income tax rate at the time) is now the maximum income tax rate that Trump calls for in his 2016 tax plan.

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

 

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate