Reuters/ U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Sunday he was open to raising taxes on the rich, backing off his prior proposal to reduce taxes on all Americans and breaking with one of his party's core policies dating back to the 1990s.
"I am willing to pay more, and you know what, the wealthy are willing to pay more," Trump told ABC's "This Week."
After effectively sealing the Republican nomination last week for the Nov. 8 presidential election, Trump has used speeches and interviews to offer more details on his policy positions.
The billionaire real estate tycoon has said he would like to see an increase in the minimum wage, although he told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday he would prefer to see states take the lead on that front instead of the federal government.
"I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour," Trump said of the current federal minimum wage. "I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide."
Trump's call for higher taxes on the wealthy is a break with Republican presidential nominees who have staunchly opposed tax hikes for almost three decades. Higher taxes have been anathema to many in the party since former President George H.W. Bush infuriated fellow Republicans by abandoning a pledge not to raise taxes and agreeing to an increase as part of a 1990 budget deal.
Democrats, including presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, have pressed for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans for years.
Trump released a tax proposal last September that included broad tax breaks for businesses and households. He proposed reducing the highest income tax rate to 25 percent from the current 39.6 percent rate.
Pressed on the contradiction between his latest comments on taxes and the September tax plan, Trump said he viewed his original proposal as "a concept" and that he expected it would be changed following negotiations with Congress.
"By the time it gets negotiated, it's going to be a different plan," Trump told ABC. He emphasized in separate interviews with ABC and NBC's "Meet the Press" that his priorities were lowering taxes on the middle class and businesses.
"The middle class has to be protected," Trump told NBC. The rich are "probably going to end up paying more," he said.
Clinton's campaign staff said Trump's comments were an effort to pander to voters beyond those who supported him in the primary elections and that he had no intention of raising taxes for wealthy people.
"Don't believe Donald Trump's weak attempts at a general election 'makeover' for even a second," Christina Reynolds, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Trump's economic plans take direct aim at working Americans - his proposal to cut trillions in taxes for the top one percent would almost certainly come at the expense of working and middle class families."