The Trump Files: Donald Told Congress the Reagan Tax Cuts Were Terrible

Now he’s proposing virtually the same thing.

Ivylise Simones

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Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Donald Trump loves to (falsely) complain at his rallies and speeches that America is “the highest-taxed country in the world.” His tax plan would slash income tax rates and deliver huge savings to the richest Americans. But he wasn’t always a fan of trickle-down, supply-side tax cuts.

In 1991, Trump told the House Budget Committee’s Subcommittee on Urgent Fiscal Matters that President Ronald Reagan had screwed up with his 1986 tax cuts, which cut the highest income tax rates nearly in half, from 50 percent to 28 percent.

“In the real estate business we’re in an absolute depression, and one of the reasons we’re there is what happened in 1986,” he said. “Something has to be done. It has to be brought back. It has to be reformed.”

Trump contended that the low income tax rates took away rich people’s reason to invest and that the economy as a whole suffered as a result. He recommended a return to much higher rates for the rich, arguing that they cause more people to invest in real estate. But he didn’t quite explain why that would happen. “The fact is that 25 percent for high-income people—for high-income people—it should be raised substantially,” he said. “I say leave the middle, leave the low—lower ’em. But people with money have to have the incentive.”

A tax rate of 25 percent (which Trump erroneously thought was the top income tax rate at the time) is now the maximum income tax rate that Trump calls for in his 2016 tax plan.

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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