Donald Trump on his tax plan: ‘The rich will not be gaining at all’

The president pledged Wednesday he would not cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, contradicting his tax reform outline released in July.

Donald Trump pledged Wednesday that his tax reform plan would not cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans – contradicting an earlier proposal his administration put forward in July.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters while meeting with the bipartisan Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus at the White House. “We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs – jobs being the economy. So we’re looking at middle class and we’re looking at jobs,” Trump said.

He added “I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are, pretty much where they are … If they have to go higher, they’ll go higher.”

The statement contradicts an outline for tax reform that the Trump administration released in July in which the top income tax rate would be reduced to 35%. Currently, the top tax bracket is 39.6%, which is paid on individual income over $415,050 a year.

Trump has long touted his plans for tax reform without providing significant detail and emphasized tax cuts as part of the process. In a statement he tweeted Wednesday morning, Trump said: “With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”

In a speech in North Dakota earlier in September, he told a crowd that his plan would provide “major, major tax cuts [for individuals], the biggest since Ronald Reagan”.

Trump also touted plans to end the estate tax, which only applies to the wealthiest Americans who leave estates over $5.45m. On Wednesday, Trump also insisted he was seeking to reduce the corporate tax rate to 15% – down from 35% – despite his treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin’s acknowledgement one day prior that such a drastic cut may not be obtainable.

Tax reform faces significant obstacles on Capitol Hill, where unless it is passed through the complicated legislative mechanism of reconciliation, it would require 60 votes, including Democratic support. In order to use reconciliation, Congress must first pass a budget resolution. Republican congressional leaders are reportedly planning to unveil their tax reform proposals in late September and to work on the legislation throughout the fall. Previous Republican-sponsored plans to overhaul the tax code have also included tax breaks for the wealthy, offset by cuts to federal spending programs.