Current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has made his so-far wildly successful campaign for the GOP’s 2016 nomination about many things, but telling his (recently adopted) party hard truths has not been one of them. His campaign has been built, in large part, on demonstrably false claims about the current state of reality that appeal to his base of old, angry, white voters, combined with grandiose promises about a future reality that only he can deliver.
But in an interview broadcast on New Hampshire television station NH1 Tuesday, the billionaire former reality television star and serial fabulist briefly broke character by telling his supporters that in the real world, maximalist negotiating positions not only don’t get you what you want, but typically get you nothing at all.
Trump, in a conversation with NH1 political director Paul Steinhauser, was asked about his plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code – a bloated legislative mess that virtually every member of Congress agrees must be rewritten.
Not surprisingly, Trump said nobody else in the race has a proposal that can possibly solve the country’s problems.
“If you look at some of the plans, they’re going to be terrible plans. Nobody thinks they’re going to work,” he said. Unlike his own plan, of course, on which he said, “I have gotten such wonderful reviews from so many people that I respect."
To his credit, Trump’s proposal is actually more detailed than those of some of his opponents, though it has come in for its share of both criticism and praise. But on Tuesday, the real estate mogul took the sort of real-world stance on the issue that is infrequently seen in Washington: He said, out loud, that he is willing to negotiate.
“One thing also I have to say,” he said to Steinhauser, “You’re going to put this plan in front of lots of different people. It’s going to go through lots of scrutiny. There’s room to negotiate. I’m a negotiator. There’s room to negotiate.
“Other people don’t have any room to negotiate. But there’s always going to be room to negotiate. When I put something forward, I always have to leave something on the table, and we have things on the table. We can give up certain things.”
In the rest of the Tuesday night interview, Trump said many things and made many remarkable (okay, unbelievable) claims.
The United States is the most highly taxed nation in the world? Sorry, not even close.
There are third world countries with better education systems than the U.S.? Well, no.
Twenty-five percent of the population is jobless, but is considered “employed?” Whaaat?
Not a single one of those outright false statements will hurt him with his supporters. But going on the record as willing to compromise on taxes? Well, who knows what, if anything, will ultimately bring Donald Trump down. But if there’s anything at all, a willingness to negotiate with Democrats on tax policy might be it.