Political Check-Up: Donald Trump

The rise of Donald Trump has been one of the biggest surprises in recent political history. We take a look at what the GOP frontrunner would change with regard to taxes and healthcare if his presidential bid succeeds.

How could we have waited so long in our presidential candidates on finance and healthcare series to cover the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump? One main reason is that the candidate has been slow to release detailed policy positions, preferring to speak in broad terms that are more difficult to evaluate.

As the battle for the GOP nomination has dragged on, Trump has been asked enough questions in the debates and by reporters covering his campaign that we have a slightly better idea about his economic and healthcare positions than we had several months ago.

Mixed Bag of Tax Implications

Trump hasn’t exactly put forth a detailed tax plan, but what he has said sounds similar to the proposals he put forth in his 2000 presidential platform. As president, Trump would repeal the estate tax, which only applies to estates with values in excess of $5 million. He would seek significant reductions on capital gains taxes and dividends, which could benefit some physician investors who have seen large growth in their investments. Trump would reduce corporate taxes to 15%, on the theory, supported by many economists but disputed by others, that having a lower corporate tax spurs increases in employee wages.

Trump supports simplifying the tax code from the current seven tax brackets to four. He would also reduce the number the highest marginal tax rate to 25% for those earning $1 million or more (the highest bracket is currently at 39.6%). The first $25,000 of income (or $50,000 for married couples) would be exempt from taxation under Trump’s plan. Trump proposes a 10% tax on all income between $100,000 and $1 million (the sweet spot for the vast majority of physicians).

Those huge reductions in tax revenue both for individuals and corporations would lead to a staggering revenue loss that would likely be in the trillions over just the first term of a Trump presidency. Without major cuts in public spending, which Trump has yet to specify, this would significantly increase the already high federal debt.

Expensive trade?

Among the surprisingly popular positions held by Trump is the idea of limiting international trade. Ostensibly to “keep American jobs in America,” Trump has proposed steep tariffs on all imported goods and penalties for US companies who engage in manufacturing overseas. However, absent further details, it is difficult to assess the impact of these proposed shackles on free trade.

Healthcare Priority: Repeal, Replace, and (Maybe) Slow Down Vaccinations?

Trump has repeatedly said he would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. What form that might take, Trump has yet to say. Initially applauding single-payer systems in Canada and Scotland, Trump has since back-tracked from saying he would prefer a single-payer system in the United States—a decidedly “un-Republican” notion. Trump has more recently spoken vaguely about a private system. He has also espoused increasing competition between managed care organizations, particularly across state lines. There are few other specifics about his policy ideas.

Trump’s views on abortion have evolved over time from “pro-choice with reservations” to definitively pro-life. He has maintained on several occasions that he believes there is a link between vaccination and autism, a notion that has been definitively debunked by the scientific and medical communities.