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'If they have to go higher, they'll go higher': Trump floats a tax increase on wealthy in bipartisan meeting

Business Insider | Sep 14, 2017, 01.20AM IST

donald and melania trump

Win McNamee

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump

President Donald Trump on Wednesday floated the idea of increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans as part of a push for tax reform.

"I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are, pretty much where they are," Trump said at a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers when asked by a reporter about tax rates for the rich.

"If they have to go higher, they'll go higher," he added.

In the past, Trump administration officials said the tax rate for higher-income people would decrease, but that it would be offset by eliminating deductions. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during his confirmation hearing that the tax burden for wealthy Americans would not decrease under Trump's tax plan, something that was coined as the "Mnuchin rule."

But the idea of increasing taxes on the wealthy, floated by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, has so far been a nonstarter for Trump officials.

Trump has mounted a push in recent days to try and get Democrats on board with his plan, gearing rhetoric around the tax plan as "unrigging the economy." Such a move could also make the budgetary math line up better to secure lower rates for corporations or maintain some exemptions.

Trump said it was an option because the goal of tax reform was to help middle-class Americans and create jobs.

"The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan," Trump said. "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."

Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is overseeing drafting of the tax plan, said Wednesday that a detailed outline would be released on September 25. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the GOP's goal is to pass tax reform by the end of the year.

Trump is also preparing to embark on a 13-state tour to drum up support among the public for the plan.

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