Trump uses tax plan to push back on criticisms

JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump announces his plan to cut taxes, Hillary Clinton embarks on a new campaign strategy, and Speaker Boehner steps down, but the problems of Congress still remain, a perfect time for Politics Monday.

I'm joined by Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

And welcome to you both.

So, let's start with Donald Trump. He did, finally today, unveil this tax reform plan. Eliminate taxes for, what, millions of people, cut taxes for some of the highest income earners.

Let's listen to a little bit of what he said at this announcement today.

DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: We will run this country properly. There is so much money to be saved. We're reducing taxes, but, at the same time, if I win, if I become president, we will be able to cut so much money. And I have a better fact. We won't be losing anything, other than we will be balancing budgets and getting them where they should be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, what was the reaction to this today in political and economic circles? Is this a plan that is likely to gain him support from voters?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, I have dubbed this the Oprah tax plan. It's a little bit like, you get a tax cut, and you get a tax cut, and you get a tax cut. Everybody gets something.

But, unlike Oprah, we don't really know where the money is coming from. I know Oprah can pay for all the things that she gives away. This is a tax plan, though, that did get some conservatives with a thumbs-up, people like Grover Norquist, who is a very influential Republican conservative tax-fighter, just doesn't want to see any tax increases ever.

Even the Club for Growth, who has come out and criticized Donald Trump, saying that they don't think he's conservative enough, that he has hiked taxes in the past or at least — I'm sorry — he has advocated hiking taxes, even they had to concede.

I think Donald Trump is doing two things here. The first is, he's pushing back on the argument against him that he is not strong enough on policy, he's not doing enough to talk specifics, and, number two, pushing back on this theme that people like Club for Growth have argued that he's not a serious conservative, that he's not a real Republican. This tax plan helps to push back on both.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know part of it, a lot of tax cuts, but there is taking away the so-called carried interest favor that's been given to some of the hedge funds folks in New York.

But, Tamara, how does this compare to what other Republicans have been saying about what they would do about taxes?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: In some ways, it's on steroids.

It's like the Jeb plan on steroids. He is lowering the business tax rate, the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, and in addition to cutting it from the 35 percent that it currently is, he also would take freelance income, he would take small businesses that currently pay taxes at the individual tax rate, all of that would get pushed over and put on the corporate tax rate at 15 percent, which Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, said was ambitious and bold.

And the reality is, this is a pretty specific plan. It includes a lot of details, new tax code, new tax brackets on the personal income side, a zero percent bracket where he — in the plan itself, it says that there will be a page that you just fill out that says, "I win."

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: But we do now know a little bit more, Amy, about where he's coming from on economics from this, right? At least it fills in some of that picture.

AMY WALTER: Yes, sure. It says he wants to give everybody a little bit of something. He says he's going to pay for it by closing these tax loopholes, which most economists say is not going to be possible.

But we also know that he wants to do a lot of other spending, but we also don't know where that's coming from, building a wall across the border of Mexico, humanely rounded up immigrants, as he said the other night, having a health care plan that's not Obamacare, but will cover everybody. It's not clear where that money is coming from.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, let's talk — we have talked about Donald Trump, one of the Republicans.

Let's talk about Hillary Clinton. Tamara, he was — she was — I guess her campaign has decided she's going to give more interviews. We have seen her popping up on different news programs. And everywhere she goes, she's being asked about the e-mails. It was no different yesterday on "Meet the Press." Chuck Todd asked her some questions.

Here's part of that exchange.

HILLARY CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate: There are some things about this that I just can't control. I can't control the technical aspects of it. I am not by any means a technical expert. I relied on people who were. My assumption was anything that I sent to a dot-gov account would be captured.

CHUCK TODD, "Meet the Press": But that's very difficult to capture all of your e-mails by going to perhaps thousands of people in their dot-gov accounts. It would have a lot been easier if it was sent to your dot-gov account.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, but when you communicate with people in other parts of the government, you're not sending it to the StateDepartment.gov. And that would have been true either way.

Look, I think I have done all that I can to take responsibility, to be as transparent as possible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tamara, he didn't — what I know people are saying about this interview is, she doesn't seem as impatient with these questions as she has in the past.

TAMARA KEITH: She looks very relaxed, like I'm going to sit here…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Almost happy to be getting questions.

TAMARA KEITH: … and I am going to be relaxed.

(LAUGHTER)

TAMARA KEITH: And she was.

But Chuck asked her at some point, is this just a drip, drip, drip? And she said, yes, this is a drip, drip, drip. And this is going to drip, drip, drip. There's going to be another release of e-mails of the State Department later this week on Wednesday.

And then come October 22, there is going to be this big Benghazi committee hearing. And there is no telling whether that's really going to be the end of it. Odds are it won't really be the end of it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does her campaign, Amy, think they just have to slog through this no matter what?

AMY WALTER: Yes, it's the — and you saw it both¯in her body language and when she acknowledged the drip, drip, drip. There is this resignation to her fate, that I don't control this, I don't know what's going to come of it.

All she can hope is two things, one, that this stays in the political realm. It doesn't go in the legal realm, we don't start talking about real serious repercussions. And, two, that eventually the media and voters and the public get bored with this story and it goes away. But that's not anytime soon, and certainly not before the end of October.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I can't let the two of you get away without asking about the big news of last Friday. House Speaker John Boehner announced he is stepping down.

Yesterday, he did an interview one of the Sunday shows with John Dickerson on "Face the Nation."

And we heard Boehner here spell out who some of these conservatives are who led to this decision. Here's part of that.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: The Bible says, beware of false prophets. And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean, this whole idea that we were going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, this plan never had a chance.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tamara, we hear what the speaker is saying. He's been pretty blunt there about — is Kevin McCarthy or somebody else — who, by the way, announced today he's running for the speakership, confirmed it. Are things going to be different under his leadership?

TAMARA KEITH: He's going to have the same math problem that John Boehner had, which is, in the House, Republicans can get what they want if they all agree with each other. Otherwise, they're going to have to have some Democratic help.

And then it gets over to the Senate, and they can't blast through a filibuster. And then it would go through the Democratic president. And there's no way a Democratic president is going to defund Planned Parenthood or eliminate Obamacare. So, they still have the same fundamental problem. Kevin McCarthy, I think, has better relationship with some of the most conservative members, but I don't know how far that will go.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what changes, Amy?

AMY WALTER: We just change — literally, we change chairs, and that's really about it.

I don't think we're going to see much more out of a McCarthy speakership than we would out of a Boehner speakership. The one question is, how much does he accede to that conservative base? Does he say, fine, yes, let's shut the government down over the debt ceiling in December, yes, fine, let's go take more stringent positions, force the president's hand, which could create, of course, more gridlock, more — and we could have another government shutdown, and we could get to the place where Republicans, especially those who want to win the White House back, say, this is damaging us beyond repair.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But there is no sign he's going to do some of those things?

(CROSSTALK)

AMY WALTER: We don't know what he's going to do.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

Well, that's why we have you two here to explain it for us.

(CROSSTALK)

AMY WALTER: That's right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

TAMARA KEITH: Thanks, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.