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Trump says minimum wage should be higher, but he won’t raise it himself

Trump's remarks are likely to infuriate the conservative wing of his party.


Dell Cameron


Posted on May 8, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 7:49 pm CDT

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump said Sunday that he supports increasing the minimum wage paid to millions of American workers, but that he wouldn’t pursue it through federal laws governing wages.

In November, Trump flatly opposed a minimum wage hike during a presidential debate, arguing that the country’s wages are “too high” to begin with. But the New York real estate tycoon had a change of heart on the campaign trail, he said Sunday on ABC News’ This Week.

“I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour,” Trump said, adding that he would like to see “an increase of some magnitude.”

However, Trump said that he would not consider raising the federal minimum wage standards if elected president. Instead, he feels that it’s up to state governments to decide whether to enact such changes. “Let the states decide. Because don’t forget, the states have to compete with each other,” he said.

Trump dismissed the notion that he should be criticized for flip-flopping on the issue. “Sure, it’s a change. I’m allowed to change,” Trump told This Week host George Stephanopoulos. “You need flexibility, George, whether it’s a tax plan, where you’re going, where you know you’re going to negotiate.”

In a move characteristic of his campaign, Trump stopped short of saying how he would effect a minimum wage hike, simply stating that he would “bring companies back into this country.” He offered no details of how this would be accomplished, either.

Further infuriating political rivals within the party he intends to lead, Trump also reversed course on the prospect of increasing taxes for America’s wealthiest individuals.

“On my plan they’re going down. But by the time it’s negotiated, they’ll go up.”

In September, Trump’s tax plan—simplified tax brackets, eliminating income taxes for as many as 75 million low-income Americans, eliminating corporate loopholes catering to special interests—was blessed by Grover Norquist, the architect of the conservative anti-tax movement, who is known for corralling Republican lawmakers into a pledge abstaining from tax hikes of any kind.

However, Trump predicted on Sunday that the tax rate for the country’s wealthiest would likely be raised were he elected to the White House. “By the time it gets negotiated, it’s going to be a different plan,” he said.

“On my plan, they’re going down,” Trump said of the tax rate imposed on the uber-rich. “But by the time it’s negotiated, they’ll go up. Look, when I’m negotiating with the Democrats, I’m putting in a plan. I’m putting my optimum plan. It’s going to be negotiated, George. It’s not going to stay there. They’re not going to say, ‘There’s your plan, let’s approve it.’ They’re going to say, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’” 

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*First Published: May 8, 2016, 3:22 pm CDT