- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2016

Just days before Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan meet to bridge differences and unify the Republican Party, the billionaire businessman again broke GOP economic orthodoxy and one of his most prominent and earliest supporters said she would work to oust Mr. Ryan from his post.

In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump went beyond his disdain for free trade, long a linchpin of conservative thought. He also said he would be willing to raise taxes and that he favors increasing the minimum wage.

“We have to negotiate. The thing I’m going to do is make sure the middle class gets good tax breaks. For the wealthy, frankly, I think it’s going to go up. And it should go up,” he said in the interview, which was recorded Saturday and aired Sunday.

Also Sunday, former Alaska Gov. and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she would support Mr. Ryan’s primary opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen. She said the speaker’s political career is over because of his refusal to enthusiastically support Mr. Trump.

The news highlights deep divisions in the Republican Party, with many key GOP figures reluctant to throw their support behind Mr. Trump or, in some cases, vowing to never vote for him. Mrs. Palin last year became one of the first high-profile Republicans to endorse Mr. Trump.

She attacked Mr. Ryan just days after the Wisconsin Republican said he couldn’t yet endorse Mr. Trump. The two men are set to meet in Washington this week.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump says his statements about taxing the wealthy are being misrepresented

Mrs. Palin told CNN on Sunday that Mr. Ryan faces the same political tidal wave that doomed Eric Cantor, the House majority leader who lost his Virginia Republican primary race in 2014 to tea party favorite David Brat.

“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor. His political career is over, but for a miracle, because he has so disrespected the will of the people. For him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his,” Mrs. Palin said. “I will do whatever I can for Paul Nehlen. This man is a hardworking guy and is so in touch with the people.”

She went on to call Mr. Ryan the latest example of a conservative going to Washington and selling out.

“Paul Ryan and his ilk, their problem is they have become so disconnected from the people whom they are elected to represent, as evidenced by Paul Ryan’s refusal to support the GOP front-runner,” she said. “Their problem is they feel so threatened at this point that their power, their prestige, their purse will be adversely affected by the change that’s coming with Trump and someone like Paul Nehlen that they’re not thinking straight right now.”

Aside from deep concerns many Republicans have about Mr. Trump’s comments regarding women, Muslims and Hispanics, there are serious differences on policy.

Mr. Trump has vehemently opposed many of the trade agreements congressional Republicans have supported, and he put tax increases on the table — something congressional Republicans are sure to oppose.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump: People are misrepresenting what I said about renegotiating debt

While Mr. Trump vowed again that tax bills would be lowered for middle-class families and small businesses under his administration, he said nothing is set in stone.

“I have no illusions. I don’t think that’s going to the final plan,” he said. “When it comes time to negotiate, I feel less concerned with the rich than I do with the middle class.”

Mr. Trump on Sunday also seemed to leave open the door to raising the national minimum wage — an idea he previously rejected.

It’s also a proposal that Republicans, especially economic conservatives at all levels, deeply oppose. They argue that artificially raising the price of labor reduces demand and will cost jobs, other things being equal.

The tycoon previously said that U.S. wages were too high, but he acknowledged that he changed his mind and now thinks wages are too low.

“Sure, it’s a change. I’m allowed to change,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “I’m going to bring companies back into this country, and they’re going to make a lot more than the $15 [minimum wage proposed by Democrats] even.”

Mr. Trump said the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is too low, though he added that states, not the federal government, should make the decision.

“I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour,” he told “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

Mr. Trump’s willingness to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and raise the minimum wage indicates that Mr. Trump understands the anger and frustration many working-class voters feel toward the so-called “1 percent.”

While Mr. Trump says all of his proposals are open for negotiation, there is a belief inside his campaign that his agenda should win out over Mr. Ryan’s, based solely on the strong support he has received from Republican voters this primary season.

“Let’s make something very clear: Donald Trump just won the Republican primary. He won it overwhelmingly. So, it’s his agenda that has just been cemented as what the American people, at least Republicans and independents who voted for him, want,” Trump senior adviser Paul Manafort said on “Fox News Sunday. “His agenda is the people’s agenda.”

Mr. Ryan is open to backing Mr. Trump but has made clear that the businessman will have to earn his support.

“I hope to support his candidacy fully. But right now at this point, I’m just not there,” Mr. Ryan told CNN last week.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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