Say What? Trump Criticizes Scott Walker for NOT Raising Taxes

If you would have sat me down a year ago and told me that the Republican frontrunner for president would be lambasting another Republican for not raising taxes, well, I would have questioned your political acumen. Yet here’s a headline I awoke to:

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Yes, this is actually happening. The very party that told you that raising taxes was a confirmed “job killer” is now under the sway of a man who is deriding others for not raising taxes enough. Here’s what the frontrunner had to say about Walker’s trickle-down tenure in full:

There’s a $2.2bn deficit and the schools were going begging and everything was going begging because he didn’t want to raise taxes ’cause he was going to run for president. So instead of raising taxes, he cut back on schools, he cut back on highways, he cut back on a lot of things …

So what does this mean for the future of trickle down economics? Before I get into that, let me first define what I mean by trickle down. This is how we define it here at Civic Skunk Works:

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Trump’s criticism, therefore, signals that it is no longer popular for a Republican presidential candidate to openly run on the first aspect of a trickle down economic platform. (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for #2 and #3.) Certainly, Trump is still intending to perpetuate obscene tax cuts for the rich, but he’s just not telling people about it. As a member of the one percent, he clearly has a vested interest in continuing favorable tax rates for the wealthy. However, he’s not dumb enough to actually be caught peddling this stuff during an era of pitchforks. After all, it’s tough to sell tax cuts for the rich when over 60 percent of Americans believe we are still in a recession. Just ask Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. So Trump has repackaged the platform—and done so brilliantly.

Nick Hanauer and Nicholas Confessore have both recently identified this sleight of hand from Trump, noting that he is superficially distancing himself from the Republicans’ old economic program stubbornly “centered on tax cuts for the affluent.” Unlike establishment figures, Trump recognizes that if you’re going to run on trickle down in the 21st century, you need to at least veil it with economic populism and nationalism. And by not being honest with his constituents, he is demonstrating that he can read the mood of Americans better than any conservative politician today.

Trump’s Janus-faced approach could very well be the next trick used by conservatives to package trickle down nonsense. Which is a victory for liberals. At least we have progressed past the stage in American politics where a presidential candidate could honestly run on this BS. However, if liberals are to stay ahead of the opponent, we must acknowledge their change of tactics and devise new ways to unveil their tricks and lies.

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Nick Cassella
Nick Cassella graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2014. After graduating, he worked on the Initiative 594 campaign before joining Civic Ventures, where he now manages Civic Skunk Works' social media presence.