With President Trump seeking to slash corporation tax, is Donald the Populist dead?

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Trump has surprised with a number of mainstream Republican moves (Source: Getty)

Brian Klaas, fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, says Yes.

Donald Trump has long argued that he, a billionaire who woke up for decades either in a gilded penthouse or on a private jumbo jet, is the true champion of the little guy. That was never true. But now that he’s putting his tax plan into action, even his supporters might be starting to realise it.

Trump’s tax plan calls for America’s corporate tax to be slashed down to 15 per cent, while also lowering tax rates for pass-through businesses to that same rate. Not so coincidentally, that proposal would apply to Trump’s own business too.

Under his plan, a hedge fund manager making $5m a year would pay a lower tax rate than many working-class people. Half of the tax giveaway in Trump’s proposal would go to the richest 1 per cent.

Trump is a wolf of Wall Street, in the sheepskin of someone who cares about the little guy. He won by exploiting economic inequality for political gain. Now he’ll make it worse.

Has Donald Trump jettisoned populism because he intends to slash corporate tax rates? Not by a long shot.

Kurt Schlichter, an author, lawyer and retired US army colonel, says No.

Many folks in the establishment have been hoping and praying that Trump’s entire shtick is some sort of put-on, and they eagerly grasp at any action that might conceivably be spun to prove it.

But not so fast. American populism is not the same as the hardcore class warfare of the United Kingdom – American workers don’t hate the rich merely for being rich. They want to be rich themselves.

Therefore, if cutting corporate tax rates will give the economy a much-needed kick in the pants, that’s fine with them as long as their own rates don’t increase and key services they rely on are not cut.

Trump is far too canny to let that happen. He gets that the economy is the make or break issue of his administration, and his supporters will back his play as long as it improves.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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