During a Friday morning interview on Fox Business, President Trump’s top economic official suggested the Republican tax plan won’t involve a cut for top earners, but immediately walked it back when he was pressed on the point.
Host Stuart Varney began his interview with Gary Cohn by saying, “President Trump talks of a middle-class tax cut… Does that mean that the top 1 percent won’t get a cut in their taxes?”
“That is what the president’s talking about,” Cohn replied. “What the president spent his time on, and what we’ve been working on here in the White House, is a middle-class tax cut.”
Q: No cut for top earners?
GARY COHN: “That’s what the president’s talking about”
Q: So really none?
COHN: “Stuart, there may be a cut” pic.twitter.com/2Z61pSdYZE
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) September 1, 2017
Seconds later, Varney pressed the point, asking Cohn, “Well, does that mean that there will be no cut in the top rate of income tax for individuals?”
Suddenly, Cohn wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Stuart, there may be a cut,” he said. “But remember, it’s the effective rate.”
Flip-flopping about whether the top one percent will get a cut under the Republican tax plan has been a feature, not a bug, of the Trump administration’s messaging.
During his confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin assured senators that “there would be no absolute tax cut for the upper class.” His vow came to be known as the “Mnuchin rule.”
But during an interview on ABC in April, Mnuchin walked that back.
Mnuchin can’t promise there won’t be any absolute tax cuts for the wealthy.
“We will see where we get from here.” pic.twitter.com/30bwgiLJ70
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 27, 2017
Trump has spoken out publicly in support of a major cut in the corporate tax rate, but he’s largely leaving the details to Cohn and Mnuchin, who are working with a group of Republican congressional leaders to hammer out a bill.
It’s unclear how much Trump personally would gain from any tax cut plan, as he has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns despite promising he would eventually do so during the campaign.