Donald Trump’s new $10 million TV ad cites two contradictory tax plans -- one that Trump has explicitly ruled out and another that he has yet to endorse -- raising more questions about what policies the GOP presidential nominee supports.
Trump’s new ad seems generic enough for a Republican politician. In it, he promises lower taxes, more jobs, and growth for small businesses.
But an examination of the fine print supporting the claims provides confusion, not clarity.
For the ad’s claim that “working families get tax relief,” it refers viewers not to an analysis of Trump’s own tax proposals, but to a white paper by House GOP leaders about their own tax reform plan. Similarly, the next section promising “millions of new jobs” directs viewers to an analysis of the House GOP plan by the conservative Tax Foundation.
Trump has not endorsed the House GOP plan outright, but his new proposal, announced earlier this month, has some similarities. Most notably, they both advocate collapsing the tax code into three brackets with rates of 12%, 25%, and 33%. But there are also important differences: Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan reported that Trump's plan would preserve a deduction on business loans that the House GOP plan would scrap that would save up to $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years.
Things get even more confusing as the commercial continues. The ad’s next two claims that Trump would make “wages go up” and “small businesses thrive” refer to his old tax plan from last year, which had drastically different rates, including a 0% bracket at the bottom and a top rate of 25%. The on-screen citation directs viewers to a Tax Foundation analysis of that now-defunct proposal from September 2015.
Trump erased his old plan from his website shortly before he announced his new one in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club earlier this month. It has far fewer details, though Trump has promised more are coming, and it has not been analyzed by the Tax Foundation.
So does Trump support the House Republican plan? Does he support his old plan? Does he support neither of them?
Asked by NBC News about the discrepancy, the Trump campaign confirmed that his policy had changed since his initial tax plan, but argued his revised version would have a similar impact.
"As Trump’s updated tax policy has not changed many of the underlying policies, particularly for corporate taxes, we expect the new analysis of jobs gained and wages raised to be similar to the prior analysis," Dan Kowalski, Deputy Policy Director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement.