Thursday, October 6, 2016

"The Real Scandal in Trump Paying No Taxes" -- Robert Reich

Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley, former Labor Secretary in Bill Clinton's cabinet, and Hillary Clinton supporter, had this piece on Huffington Post.

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"According to the New York Times, Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns — which could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for 18 years [you can offset income up to $50 million each year].  The loss stemmed from Trump’s investments in the early 1990s.

"Ordinary investors in Trump’s business empire saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, bondholders got pennies on the dollar, and scores of contractors went unpaid.  But Trump got a bonanza because the tax code allows “net operating losses” to cancel out taxable income in future years. And the bankruptcy code allows wealthy people to stiff the people they owe by reorganizing their debts under Chapter 11.

"Trump didn’t do anything illegal. Real estate losses are notoriously easy to create. Trump bought buildings with borrowed money. He could then deduct interest paid on that debt. On top of that, he could take depreciation deductions, even when his real estate was appreciating in value.  Presto! Trump claimed almost a billion dollars of losses that would cancel his gigantic income gains for years to come. . . . 

"The real scandal here is that Trump and other hugely wealthy people can get away with this, and do so all the time. It’s just another way the system has been rigged — by rich people who buy off politicians to alter tax, bankruptcy, and other laws and regulations to their advantage, just like Donald Trump has done.

“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July 2015. “As a businessman, I need that.”

"Trump isn’t and was never a smart businessman. He was and is smart at gaming the system. There’s a difference."
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Reich didn't go as far as others have in calling Trump the "Real Welfare Queen."  Republicans love to deride the "takers" of society who benefit from the taxes paid by the rest of us (Romney's "47%," Reagan's "Welfare Queen").  But now people are beginning to realize how much "welfare" wealthy people and corporations get -- in tax loopholes, tax incentives, carry-forward deductions that help create paper "losses" that ultimately let the wealthy avoid taxes, just as Trump has done here.

Trump and his Three Stooges (Giuliani, Christie, Gingrich) want us to trust Trump to fix the broken system because he understands it better than anyone (a "genius" according to the Stooges), having mastered how to work it for himself.   The key there is "Trust Trump."    Why would anyone trust him to fix a system that he has admitted to using "brilliantly" to benefit himself, to the detriment of ordinary taxpayers?

Well, he says, "I'm working for You now;   back then I was working for myself."   Why should we believe he would make this shift when he proves every day that words coming out of his mouth have a shelf life that lasts only until saying the opposite will benefit him more?   Truth has no meaning to him;  utility in advancing his own cause is the only criterion in the Trump lexicon.


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