Donald Trump's 6 biggest policy flip flops

The New York tycoon has reversed his position on some of his most prominent proposals 

Feliks Garcia
New York
Monday 09 May 2016 22:26

Having bested his other opponents in the Republican primaries, Donald Trump is inching closer and closer to becoming the official nominee as the July convention approaches - and has shifted his focus to the election.

Mr Trump has moved toward attacking his next likely candidate, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and other prominent Democrats in his path, such as Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren.

But as he has moved to appeal to a wider electorate outside of the primaries, Mr Trump has taken on some criticism for his many reversals on critical policy positions.

Whether speaking on raising the federal minimum wage, increasing taxes for the wealthy, or abortion, the only thing the New York real estate mogul has proven is that he will not budge on only one matter: his willingness to say anything to maintain his controversial campaign’s upward trajectory.

And on six critical issues, Mr Trump has pivoted between positions, muddling his exact stance on these certain issues.

Minimum Wage

Mr Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that while he wishes to do away with the federal minimum wage, employers should pay workers more on a state-by-state basis.

“I have seen what's going on. And I don't know how people make it on $7.25 (£5) an hour,” he said.

“Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

However, during a November Fox Business debate, the presumptive Republican nominee felt differently about how much US workers earned, making it clear that he did not sympathise with workers who are fighting for a $15 (£10.42) minimum wage.

“I can’t be [sympathetic] … and the reason I can’t be is because we are a country that is being beaten on every front,” he said. “Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. … I would not raise the minimum.”

Taxing the wealthy

In the same Meet the Press appearance, Mr Trump went against a major core policy that has been a fixture of conservative politics for decades, and said he would likely increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“The thing I’m going to do is make sure the middle-class get good tax breaks, because they have been absolutely shunned,” he said. “For the wealthy, I think frankly it’s going to go up - and you know what, I think it should go up.”

In a tax plan released by the Trump campaign last year, all Americans would receive tax breaks, but the wealthiest would still benefit significantly.

In an analysis by the Tax Policy Centre, the top one per cent of earners would receive a tax cut of more than $275,000 (17.5 per cent after-tax income). Individuals in the top 0.1 per cent of earners would receive a cut of at least $1.3m (19 per cent of after-tax income).

Middle-income households would receive a cut of about $2,700 (five per cent of after-tax income) in the plan. The lowest-income households, however, would not benefit quite as much from Mr Trump’s proposed tax plan as those with the highest incomes, with a cut of about $128 (one percent of after-tax income).

Campaign finance

Mr Trump has touted his $10bn worth in his campaign, highlighting the point that by self-funding he cannot be bought out by lobbyists.

“By self-funding my campaign,” he wrote in a September post on Facebook. “I am not controlled by my donors, special interests or lobbyists. I am only working for the people of the US!”

But in a 4 May interview, he told the Wall Street Journal he was reversing that position as well.

“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding, as I did during the primaries,” he said.


Mr Trump’s position on abortion came under scrutiny in March when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he supported a ban on the procedure, and women who undergo it should face punishment.

If abortion is banned in the US, “you’ll go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places. But you have to ban it,” Mr Trump said, adding, “There has to be some form of punishment.”

He quickly walked back the comments - which the Clinton campaign called “horrific and telling” - in a statement released by the campaign.

“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times,” he said.

But Mr Trump had been previously supportive of women’s right to choose.

In 1999, he told the Associated Press: “I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”

And in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he wrote, “I support a woman’s right to choose, but I am uncomfortable with the procedures.”

Health Care

Mr Trump is opposed to a single-payer healthcare system and believes the industry should remain privatised.

“[Single payer] works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age,” he said in the first GOP debate last year. “What I'd like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state.”

However, he said the opposite in a 1999 interview with CNN’s Larry King.

“If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. ... I believe in universal healthcare,” he said.

He expanded on the idea in his 2000 book.


The most prominent facet of Mr Trump’s campaign has been his stance on immigration. He announced his candidacy in June 2015 by referring to Mexicans as “criminals” and “rapists,” and promised he would build a massive wall on the US’ southern border.

But when it comes to skilled immigrant labour, Mr Trump does not give quite as clear cut an idea of his position. According to the Washington Post, Mr Trump switched his stance on H-1B visas, which the US grants to skilled foreign workers at the request of business firms who need their expertise.

During a CNBC debate in October, Mr Trump said he supported skilled foreign workers, and that they should stay in the country.

“We’re losing some of the most talented people,” he said. “They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country, and they’re immediately sent out. I am all in favour of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.”

Following the debate, his campaign released a statement with a contrary position on the visa program.

“The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay,” Mr Trump said in the statement.

“I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labour program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

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