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Cheat Sheet: A Guide to President-Elect Trump's Views on Key Issues

Image: Bloomberg
Image: Bloomberg
Donald Trump

The New York real estate mogul Donald Trump defied all conventional wisdom by winning the presidency, a huge upset that is sending shock waves through the political and policy establishment.

During the campaign, Trump eschewed providing details on many issues, instead just providing a broad outline of his policy positions.

Following is a guide to what Trump has said.

Tax Reform

Trump came out early with very specific tax proposals that would generally lower rates and simplify the tax regime.

  • Lowering Tax Rates: Trump's plan calls for lowering taxes across the board. It would consolidate the tax brackets into three, with the biggest tax cuts going to middle-class workers who are married with children. Tax rates would be: 12%, 25% or 33%. He would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Capital Gains: Trump would keep the existing capital gain rate structure. However — much like his rival, Hillary Clinton — he would tax carried interests as ordinary income.
  • The Affordable Care Act: Trump would repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would include a repeal of the additional Medicare tax, the net investment income surtax, the medical device excise tax and the "Cadillac tax."
  • The Estate Tax: Trump proposes a repeal of the estate tax but would tax estates' unrealized capital gain above $10 million, and would disallow contributions of appreciated assets to a private charity established by the decedent or the decedent's relatives.
  • Child Care: Trump proposes an above-the-line deduction for child care expenses, capped at the average cost of such expenses in the taxpayer's state of residence, and s similar deduction for elder care, capped at $5,000 per year. He also proposes an expansion of the earned income tax credit, and tax favored contributions of up to $2,000 per year to Dependent Care Savings Accounts.
  • Business Taxes: Trump proposes eliminating all business tax incentives, except for the Research & Development Credit. He also proposes a one-time deemed repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at a discounted 10% tax rate, and would end the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad while retaining the foreign tax credit regime.

'Too Big to Fail'

One of the biggest surprises at the Republican National Convention in July was Trump's embrace of a return to the Glass-Steagall Act. During the early days of the Cleveland convention, Trump's campaign engineered a call for a return to the Depression-era law as part of the official platform.

"We also call for reintroduction of the platform of Glass-Steagall so that would create barriers between what the big banks can do and avoid some of the crisis that led to 2008," Paul Manafort, at the time Trump's campaign director, said on July 18. "The Obama-Clinton years have passed legislation that has been favorable to the big banks, which is why you see all the Wall Street money going to her."

The move caught Republican lawmakers off guard, with many saying they continue to oppose restoring the law that separated commercial and investment banking. But it's not clear how committed Trump is to Glass-Steagall. While it is part of the official platform, the president-elect himself has never talked about it. He had previously said he disagreed with the idea of breaking up the big banks — something that would happen if Glass-Steagall were restored.

Trump has also separately called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Regulatory Relief

Trump said on Aug. 8 that if elected president, he would put a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations. In a speech, he said "overregulation is costing our economy as much as $2 trillion a year."

Under Trump's plan, every federal agency would draw up a list of regulations that are unnecessary and do not improve public safety and repeal them.

Trump's plan was met with skepticism from financial industry observers, who suggested it would be difficult for the president to stop independent agencies — like the banking regulators — from enacting new regulations. It's also notable that such a plan would directly conflict with the idea of restoring Glass-Steagall, which would require more regulations to be promulgated.

More generally, Trump has repeatedly said that he views regulations as harmful.

"We will make America the best place in the world to start a business…we will get rid of these horrible regulations that make it impossible to do business in this country," Trump said during a June economic policy speech in Monessen, Pa.

Trump told The Hill newspaper last year that "under Dodd-Frank, the regulators are running the banks. The bankers are petrified of the regulators. And the problem is that the banks aren't loaning money to people who will create jobs."

Still, in an earlier interview with Time magazine, Trump said there "are aspects of" Dodd-Frank "you could leave," though he did not specify which ones. When asked specifically about the Volcker Rule, he praised former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, and suggested he approved of the rule.

"Well, I'm not sure if he likes it, but…if he's happy, I'm happy," Trump said. "He was a terrific guy. I've met him a few times. And I thought he was terrific. But I think his policy and his demeanor — there was something very solid about him."

Health Care and Employee Benefits

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