Trump Argues For Huge Corporate Tax Giveaway, Low Minimum Wage

Dave Johnson

In his extended “Meet the Press” interview, with Chuck Todd interrupting constantly, Republican front-runner Donald Trump advocated for a huge, huge giveaway of tax money to giant, multinational corporations, for a lower corporate tax rate and for a low minimum wage.

In the following exchange:

  • “Corporate inversion” is when a company buys a company in another country, then “inverts” to make itself a subsidiary of that company. Then they can pretend to be a non-US company for tax purposes.
  • “Repatriation” — American multinational corporations are hoarding well over $2 trillion outside of the US, often in tax-haven countries, as a tax dodge. They owe up to over $700 billion in taxes on that at the current 35% tax rate if the bring it back, which is called repatriation. (“Up to” because there are various things they can deduct to reduce the amount…)

One point about that (up to) $700+ billion these corporations already owe: companies that did not use this tax dodge have already paid their taxes. Letting these multinational corporations off would reward the multinationals for dodging, giving them a tremendous advantage over companies that have paid their taxes.

The discussion began with a question about a “living wage.” In the following exchange, Trump says (before being interrupted by Todd until you can’t even follow it…):

  • Companies leave the United States because of our minimum wage and taxes.
  • They do so using corporate inversions.
  • The current corporate tax rate is “a tremendous tax.”
  • We should let companies off from the (up to) $700+ billion they already owe, and instead have them pay — as Todd calls it — “sort of a one-time smaller tax.” Trump says, “I’m okay with that as a step.”

CHUCK TODD:
What is a fair living wage?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, you know, it’s a very tricky– I want everyone to make a fortune. And with me, I’m going to take jobs back from China, from Mexico, from Japan. I’m going to bring jobs back. Like, you will even be surprised, Chuck. You will be very surprised. So that we won’t even have to be talking about the minimum wage.

But, you know, we have a problem called corporate inversion in this country where corporations are leaving the United States to go to other places because they can get lower wages and lower taxes. And we have to be very careful with a minimum wage. You know, it’s great politically to say, “Hey, I want to give everybody $500 an hour.”

Forget about $15 or $12, right? But we have to be very careful. Because we have a huge inversion problem in this country. I mean, you look at some of the companies that are talking about leaving the United States. And many of these companies are run by people from Britain, and from Ireland, and from other people.

They have no loyalty to this country. But many great companies, big companies, a lot of employees, are talking about inverting. Meaning leaving. And we have to do something. And also, the $2.5 trillion that’s sitting outside that can be brought back in, we have to make —

CHUCK TODD:
How do you encourage that? How do you get those —

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, we’re going to have to lower the tax. We have to lower tax. Right now, they have to pay a tremendous tax to bring that money in. We have to lower the tax so that they don’t mind paying something. But they’re not going to pay 30 and 35 percent to bring —

CHUCK TODD:
There are some people discussing the idea of sort of a one-time smaller tax, bringing it in, and then using that for infrastructure.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I’m okay with that as a step. But just to show you how bad Washington is, how they can’t do — I’ve been hearing about this for two years. For two years, everybody agrees that we should let the money in. And for two years, they can’t make a deal, okay?

CHUCK TODD:
Well, welcome to Congress —

DONALD TRUMP:
And you know what? The Democrats, Republicans agree. They still haven’t made a deal. This is for two years.

CHUCK TODD:
All right. Going back, what’s a living wage? What’s fair?

DONALD TRUMP:
I want to keep the minimum wage pretty much where it is right now.

CHUCK TODD:
You wouldn’t raise it?

DONALD TRUMP:
Because of the fact that we have a country that is now competing more than ever before because of airplanes, and transportation, and —

CHUCK TODD:
So you think we got to keep —

DONALD TRUMP:
— the Internet —

CHUCK TODD:
We got to keep the minimum wage lower —

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, we’re not going to be able to compete with the rest of the world. I want to compete with the rest of the world. What I do want to do is bring in jobs so much so that people don’t have to live on minimum wage. But we are going to have to compete with the rest of the world.

CHUCK TODD:
All right. Toss you a quick Facebook question. Michael Martinez asks, “Residents of the District of Columbia currently pay federal taxes but have only a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, no representation in the Senate. Should that policy continue as is? Should D.C. become a state? Should it not have to pay taxes? Should it be treated like Puerto Rico –“

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, bas —

CHUCK TODD:
“How should D.C. residents be treated –“

DONALD TRUMP:
I have a conflict of interest because I’m building the greatest — you know, I’m building at the old post office I think what will be maybe one of the great hotels in the world —

CHUCK TODD:
So I’ve heard.

DONALD TRUMP:
It’ll open. And, by the way, unlike our government, we’re under budget and ahead of schedule. Isn’t that a nice thing to hear? You don’t hear that. Just like the wall will be under budget and ahead of schedule. And nobody’s getting through that wall. Believe me.

CHUCK TODD:
All right.

DONALD TRUMP:
But —

CHUCK TODD:
So the District.

DONALD TRUMP:
So I have a little bit of a conflict.

CHUCK TODD:
State or not?

DONALD TRUMP:
I would like to do whatever is good for the District of Columbia because I love the people. You know, it’s funny. I’ve really gotten to know the people, the representatives, and the mayor and everybody. They’re really special people. They’re great. And they have a great feeling. So I would say whatever’s best for them I’m for. I have a total conflict of interest.

CHUCK TODD:
So you’re okay with either way? If they want statehood, you’re for statehood?

DONALD TRUMP:
I mean, people are talking about that. I’d look at it. I’d certainly look at it —

CHUCK TODD:
Or give them back to Maryland. Or do something.

DONALD TRUMP:
I would look at a number of things. And something would be done that everybody would be happy.

CHUCK TODD:
All right. Your slogan, we’re going to hear it a lot today at the fair. “We’re going to make America great again.” When was the —

DONALD TRUMP:
Great slogan.

CHUCK TODD:
When was the last time America was great?

DONALD TRUMP:
I would say during the administration of Ronald Reagan you felt proud to be an American. You felt really proud. I don’t think since then to any great extent people were proud.

CHUCK TODD:
Then let me ask you this. Not trying play a little “gotcha” here. But in 1987 you took out a full-page ad. This is during the Reagan administration. And you said this. “To the American people. For decades, Japan and other nations have been taking advantage of the United States.” On message, by the way. It’s consistent. “The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own carrying oil we don’t need destined for allies who won’t help.” Message-wise, very consistent.

DONALD TRUMP:
You know, I’ve been —
From day one including during the Reagan —

CHUCK TODD:
I was just going to say —

DONALD TRUMP:
Because look, NAFTA —

CHUCK TODD:
Let’s not let —

DONALD TRUMP:
NAFTA —

CHUCK TODD:
— our great country be laughed at anymore. If that’s the last time America was great again, you didn’t think America was —

DONALD TRUMP:
No, no —

CHUCK TODD:
— great then.

DONALD TRUMP:
I thought America was excellent. I think NAFTA was a huge mistake. I thought it was a terrible mistake. And, you know, but I just think that he set a tone that was an excellent tone for the country. I disagree —

CHUCK TODD:
Looking back, you seem to —

DONALD TRUMP:
— with some of his —

CHUCK TODD:
— like it.

DONALD TRUMP:
No, I just —

CHUCK TODD:
But at the time —

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, looking back–

CHUCK TODD:
This was a fire —

DONALD TRUMP:
— I like him more.

CHUCK TODD:
This was a fiery guy.

DONALD TRUMP:
Yeah, he’s —

CHUCK TODD:
Donald J. Trump of 1987 was not —

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, it’s the same guy. If you think —

CHUCK TODD:
Your consistence on —

DONALD TRUMP:
I have been consistent over the years —

CHUCK TODD:
I’ll give you consistency.

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