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Trump Wanted Higher Taxes on the Rich – and to Print Lots of Money: Woodward

Michael Rainey

U.S. President Donald Trump talks via speakerphone to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to announce a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump administration, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” hits bookstores Tuesday but has been making headlines for about a week as details leak out. According to a review of an advance copy obtained by Business Insider, the Woodward book includes some surprising details about President Trump’s preferred tax and monetary policy.

Trump wanted a tax hike: During negotiations over the tax legislation in 2017, Trump reportedly wanted to raise the top individual income tax rate to 44 percent, up from 39.6 percent. The increase was discussed in the context of the corporate tax rate, which Trump wanted to see lowered to 15 percent.

Then-economic adviser Gary Cohn reportedly told Trump that he couldn’t raise the top tax rate for the simple reason that he was Republican and would “get absolutely destroyed” if he did so.

Trump talked about raising taxes on the rich repeatedly during his campaign for the presidency, and former Trump adviser Steven Bannon reportedly advocated for a top rate of 44 percent on people who earn more than $5 million a year as he pushed for a more populist version of the tax legislation.

In the end, the GOP decreased the top individual tax rate to 35 percent and the top corporate rate to 21 percent.

Trump had some unusual idea about the national debt: Another anecdote involving Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, claims that Trump suggested printing money to pay off the national debt: "Just run the presses — print money," the Woodward book quotes Trump as saying. 

Cohn, who appears to have been an important source for the book, reportedly told Trump that printing huge amounts of money is seen as inflationary, but the president maintained an interest in the idea.

Cohn also said that Trump floated an idea for making money off of rising interest rates: "We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money," Trump reportedly said.

Trump has dismissed the Woodward book as a “scam” filled with “made up” quotes. 

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