The Corner

Kudlow, Goldberg, Trump—and Taxes

Lawrence Kudlow responds to Jonah Goldberg’s criticism of the kind words the former has had for Donald Trump. I am not going to step between my two friends on the general question, except to say that I’m glad Kudlow says that Trump’s proposed 45 percent tariffs are a very bad idea and hope he will keep beating that drum.

Some of Kudlow’s other comments, though, underplay the fuzziness of Trump’s policy agenda. Trump is hard to pin down on policy because his campaign frequently puts out position papers that, while slight, contradict what Trump says on the stump and in interviews.

Kudlow writes that he likes how Trump would change the corporate tax, citing among other things how he would allow “easier repatriation and cash-expensing write-offs for new business investment.” Maybe Trump has come out for these ideas at some time or other—they have become standard Republican ideas—but they are not in his plan. His proposal on corporations’ foreign earnings seems generally to go in the opposite direction. (On this point, the key words in the plan are that there would be “an end to the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad.”)

Even if Trump came out for Kudlovian corporate-tax reform, it would not change my basic assessment of his candidacy. But Trump hasn’t done that in any clear way. Either you should ignore Trump’s policy papers because they’re not meant seriously, in which case praise for his policies seems unmerited. Or you should take them seriously, in which case the ideas Kudlow is praising just aren’t there.

(disclosure)

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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