Trump seeks to clarify remarks about taxes on wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sought to clarify his remarks on raising taxes on Monday, saying he would not raise taxes on wealthy Americans but in any negotiations with Democrats in Congress, this group would most likely pay a higher rate than the one he has proposed.

Trump told Sunday morning news shows that he was willing to pay more in taxes and so were many other wealthy Americans, raising eyebrows because of what would be a clear break with conventional Republican thinking on taxes.

On Monday, he denied that meant he was open to raising taxes for people in higher income brackets from their current level, saying he had been referring to potential adjustments to his own tax policy proposal.

Trump’s proposal, released in September, included broad tax breaks for businesses and households, with the highest income tax rate reduced to 25 percent from the current 39.6 percent rate.

In television interviews on Monday, Trump said he expected some of the tax rates he put forth in that proposal to be raised during any negotiations with Democrats in Congress.

Lowering taxes on the middle class and businesses was his priority, said Trump, a billionaire real estate developer.

“I may have to increase it on the wealthy – I’m not going to allow it to be increased on the middle class,” Trump said on CNN. “Now, if I increase it on the wealthy that means they’re still going to be paying less than they are paying now. I’m talking about increasing it from my tax proposal.”

In Monday’s interviews Trump also sought to clarify comments he made last week on U.S. debt. He said never espoused restructuring or defaulting on government debt but would buy back bonds at a discount if interest rates go up.

Trump effectively sealed the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election with a victory in Indiana last week that forced his last two rivals out of the race.

His candidacy has caused a rift in the Republican Party, where many leaders have been appalled by his rhetoric on immigrants and Muslims and concerned that some policy positions such as Trump’s opposition to free trade run counter to Republican orthodoxy.

Many Republicans oppose raising the federal minimum wage, but Trump has embraced a higher minimum wage. He said he would leave the issue up to the states, because some places, like New York, are more expensive to live in.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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