I was watching some old videos of that exploratory committee, and they referred to his "Robin Hood tax" idea: tax the whole wealth (not just annual income) of individuals and trusts that were valued at over $10 million, at 14.25%, one-time only, and that would deliver roughly $6 trillion in revenues, which was the size of the debt at the time.
He offered to end the estate tax to put a little something in it for the rich. But mostly the goal was tax cuts for the middle and working classes, saving Social Security, and paying off the debt.
That overall picture doesn't sound too different from the way he pitched his tax plan during the campaign, and he went to great lengths to emphasize that it was only an initial position during a negotiation with Democrats, Republicans, House, Senate, etc. If the rates for the very rich went up from his initial proposal, meh, whaddaya gonna do?
But that was only tax rates on a person's annual income. The Robin Hood plan was a one-time tax on their entire net worth. There's a lot more money sitting around out there than there is being earned in a given year.
Does Trump still believe in a one-time clawing back of 15% of the largely ill-gotten wealth made over the past 30-40 years? He said he no longer believed in it when asked in 2011 by George Stephanopoulos, but he also said that about single-payer during the 2015 Fox debate, and we know how much he's been pushing for negotiating drug prices and praising universal healthcare right up through 2015. Maybe he's quibbling over the exact rate -- now he only supports a 10% tax on the wealth of the super-rich, and maybe that threshold has been raised to $20 million.
He did go public with a plan to levy a one-time tax of 10% on corporate profits sitting overseas, to bring the remaining 90% of that wealth back into the country and hopefully put it to good use. So the basic idea has still been bouncing around his head. He didn't say he wasn't also thinking of levying a similar 10% tax on wealth already sitting here in America...
One thing seems unlikely to have changed -- his underlying worldview or tone. Here he is in a '90s internet article from CNN:
"By my calculations, 1 percent of Americans, who control 90 percent of the wealth in this country, would be affected by my plan," Trump said.
"The other 99 percent of the people would get deep reductions in their federal income taxes," he said.
It's hard to ignore his playing off of one class against another, aiming to draw support from "the other 99 percent" even if it cost him votes, reputation, or whatever, from the "1 percent of Americans who control 90 percent of the wealth". Whatever specifics may have changed in his mind, something as fundamental as a worldview has not.
From another ancient internet article:
[Advisor Roger] Stone said Trump's polling shows that 65 percent of the public supports the "Robin Hood" tax concept.
"The tax issue solves a lot of other things -- the Social Security trust fund shortfall, plus it gets rid of the inheritance tax, and everything starts to fall into place," Trump said
Stone said Trump will soon release a plan for universal health care akin to the Canadian system.
"We'll put out a health care plan that will make Ted Kennedy blush," Stone said.
Nobody seems to have noticed just how forcefully Trump was willing to push the idea the first time he considered running for office. The counter-campaign was just throwing everything at the wall and seeing if it would stick. Reporters have minimal research skills (they cannot be bothered to google, let alone search Lexis-Nexis), and would not have pursued the story anyway because they're lazy. Plus Trump was hitting his enemies from so many angles, constantly changing them up, that they couldn't drill too hard even if he did have a weak spot within the GOP primary.
The only one to look in depth was the Politifact article linked at the top of this post, and it must have gotten buried under the avalanche of the 99% of their stuff that is BS propaganda hit pieces. Crying "wolf!"
In their research, Politifact turned up some quotes about how ridiculous some thought Trump's soak-the-super-rich plan was, including Stephen Moore -- a Reaganite supply-sider who would go on to become an economic advisor to Trump and a campaign surrogate (the really spastic one). I think Trump hired people like that in 2016 to fly under the radar while running as a Republican, in order to not disorient GOP loyalist voters too much too quickly.
I sense folks in the Trump movement opening up to the idea of "who cares about tax cuts for the rich?" ahead of the tax reform legislation that is sure to be a bigger shit-show than the healthcare circus. Ann Coulter was on Hannity the other night pointing out that W. Bush gave the very rich a yuge tax cut, and what did they turn around and do with the money other than bring in guest workers? (Or off-shore their business, or put it into the casino of the stock market hoping for their money to make more money without having to hire anyone.)
The idea that the super-rich are aching to hire Americans at decent wages is a total farce by this point, and even Hannity (caught off-guard) couldn't argue with those facts.
Trump himself blasted the carrot rather than stick approach during multiple rallies, such as in Erie and Wilkes-Barre PA. Politicians have been offering zero-interest loans to companies if they stay here, then they take the money and run overseas anyway, where they sell their product back into the US with no tariff. "There's going to be consequences" tax-wise, has been his mantra, not "tax cuts to the top will boost hiring and incomes".
Bernie whipped up so much of the Democrat and independent voters about his own "Robin Hood tax," which would have gone to pay for free college for all (Craaazy Bernie, kids need real jobs and real training). Trump would use the revenues to pay down the debt instead. Still, there may be enough support among the public that Trump and/or Crazy Bernie can turn up the heat on Congress to get something like this into the tax reform code.