Saturday, October 3, 2020

Musings on Trump's Tax Returns and Greed

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

In politics it has been said that it’s all about the economy, and America’s economy is driven by greed.  Jesus condemned greed as a mortal sin, but Donald Trump’s braggadocio on his wealth and the recent disclosure of his tax returns reveal his greed and attempts to deceive the public.  But will that make a difference to those Christians who support Trump?

Not likely.  Most white Christians support Trump in spite of his egregious immorality; and most Democrats in Congress are reluctant to challenge the insatiable greed of Wall Street since it’s the source of their campaign funds.  Meanwhile, the church is implicated for its failure to hold accountable those white Christians who support the evils of Trump’s corrupt regime.

Trump’s gaming the tax laws illustrates his disdain for the taxes the rest of us must pay.  It’s typical of the greed of the super-rich that has caused increasing disparities of wealth.  Those disparities have been exacerbated by the pandemic and have dangerously eroded the stability of America’s middle class, contributing to increasing racial unrest and violence.

Our complex tax laws favor the rich, whose accountants and tax lawyers find ways for them to avoid paying income taxes that burden most Americans; but Trump’s tax returns are so egregious that they are probably not typical of the rich.  After all, Trump is a human hyperbole of immorality, and that makes his support by most white Christians especially shameful.           

Trump’s outlandish tax returns should encourage tax code revisions that eliminate inequitable loopholes that allow the rich to escape tax burdens.  That could reduce disparities in wealth, but tax laws alone cannot provide economic justice in a capitalist system that relies on ambition and greed to function.  It will take more socialist policies to provide economic justice.

There are other issues raised onTrump’s tax return.  If any of the unnamed creditors of the $400M indebtedness on the return is tied to a foreign nation, that could make Trump a security risk and deny him the security clearance he needs as President.  The massive debt also reflects on Trump’s business judgment.  Both issues are relevant in the upcoming election.

The church has allowed its zeal for popularity to compromise its commitment to the moral imperatives taught by Jesus, which are decidedly not popular in America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture.  The church will continue to decline, but America will have to come to terms with altruistic values and reject the greed inherent in capitalism to regain its self-respect.,        

Socialism is a political antidote to the greed of capitalism.  It balances the selfish desires of individual wants and rights with the moral imperative to provide for the common good.  That balance is essential in a healthy democracy; but while most Americans support Social Security and Medicare, they oppose more socialism as anathema to the American way of life.

Socialism has not yet tempered capitalism in America, but expect it to be coming soon.


Max Boot has asserted that Trump’s taxes show why he is so desperate to stay in office

“During the first presidential debate in 2016, Hillary Clinton speculated that Donald Trump was keeping his taxes secret because he didn’t want Americans to know that “maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” “maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be,” and maybe “he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

The New York Times just confirmed that Clinton was right — and reveals why President Trump has tried so hard to keep his taxes secret. It somehow managed to obtain Trump’s tax returns, which show that he is either a terrible businessman or a massive tax cheat — or possibly both. He managed to pay no federal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — and only $750 in 2016 and 2017 — by claiming vast losses from his business empire. That $750 figure is a killer because it’s a number that middle-class Americans can understand. As a just-released Biden campaign ad points out, that’s far less than the taxes paid by the average teacher, nurse or firefighter.

...Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress last year: ‘Mr. Trump would often say this campaign was going to be the greatest infomercial in political history. . . . The campaign for him was always a marketing opportunity.’ Once Trump unexpectedly won, the marketing opportunities only increased for the most unethical president in our history. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) just released a report showing that Trump has 3,400 conflicts of interest. He has profited from his presidency by making repeated visits to his own properties with his vast entourage in tow, while lobbyists, political groups and foreign governments have also paid to stay at his properties.

Trump tried to secure even more lucrative paydays by announcing that the Group of Seven summit would be held at his Miami-area golf resort and reportedly instructing the U.S. ambassador in London to pressure the British government to move the British Open golf tournament to his Scottish resort. Both schemes blew up in Trump’s face, raising the issue of why someone as rich as he claims to be would engage in such blatant profiteering. Now, we know the answer. Trump is not just less wealthy than he claims; he is up to his eyeballs in debt.

The Times reports that Trump is on the hook for $421 million in debt, much of which is coming due soon. As former FBI agent Josh Campbell points out, that much debt “disqualifies most people from obtaining a government security clearance,” because the U.S. government “views this as a vulnerability and a point of leverage for foreign adversaries seeking access to classified information.”

The Times account did not specify who Trump’s creditors are and sheds little light on his business connections with Russia. It did note that he made more money from holding the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013 — $2.3 million — than from any other pageant. That money came from the Agalarov family, which is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and which lost $10 million on the transaction.

This should serve as a reminder that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III refused to look into Trump’s financial dealings with Russia, which Trump said was a red line for him. That investigation still needs to be conducted. But even the bare facts revealed by the Times show why both former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats suspect that (as Coats told Bob Woodward) “Putin had something on Trump.”

And Putin isn’t alone. The Times shows that Trump made millions of dollars during his presidency from licensing deals in places such as the Philippines, Turkey and India, rendering him vulnerable to pressure from the strongmen in power in all of those countries. Indeed, former national security adviser John Bolton said that Trump’s decision-making on Turkey was motivated by Trump’s business interests. That is a shocking corruption of U.S. foreign policy.

Will any of it matter? ...The Times has done an impressive job of getting the truth out, and now it is up to the voters to decide whether they want to reelect a flimflam man. The Times account makes clear that Trump is desperate to stay in office in no small part because he needs to profit from the presidency — and to avoid the risk of prosecution for tax fraud and other possible crimes. See

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