Why it still matters that you subsidize Trump’s lifestyle
The last time Donald Trump released his personal income taxes, they revealed that he paid zero, nothing, nada.
“The disclosure, in a 1981 report by New Jersey gambling regulators, revealed that the wealthy Manhattan investor had for at least two years in the late 1970s taken advantage of a tax-code provision popular with developers that allowed him to report negative income,” the Washington Post reports.
And since then, tax laws have been made far more favorable to real estate “developers,” chances are that he hasn’t paid any taxes — possibly in decades. And his foundation’s returns show that he’s not only avoiding taxes, he may be using the front of charity as a veil for corruption.
Two of the smartest people in politics I follow Greg Sargent and Dan Pfeiffer — who actually helped President Obama get elected, twice, and now hosts a fun political podcast — think that Trump’s ability to shrink his tax rate lower than even his approval rating among minority women won’t hurt him in November.
“With Dems likely to grow more aggressive in unearthing and targeting Trump’s business past, his pushback on whatever revelations pop up will basically be this: You’re damn right I’ve been a scummy businessman. Now I want to be a scummy businessman on your behalf and on America’s behalf,” Sargent explained. “It cannot be overstated how important this idea is to his candidacy, and indeed, to his entire self-created mystique.”
This, I think, is part of Sargent’s larger case — backed up by his reporting — that the “he only cares about the rich” argument Democrats made against Romney isn’t sticking to Trump.
Trump certainly doesn’t come off more patrician or removed than Romney and his big vague anti-trade message gives him at least some case to the middle class, even though his tax giveaways to the rich are far more generous than anything Romney offered to his billionaire buddies.
Pfeiffer thinks the opportunity with the returns to poke holes in the argument that Trump is a success, which has been done quite thoroughly already. I actually think that angle is a dead end. He may not be a billionaire but what’s the difference? He has the plane, the buildings with his name on them, the three consecutive trophy wives.
But forcing the tax return issue and the tax rate issue could be part of a larger argument that Priorities USA is advancing that Paul Begala frames as “#DontheCon,” which is better than Dangerous Donald but maybe not as good as Deadbeat Donald or Silver Spoon Donald.
The crux of this argument: Trump thinks you’re a sucker.
He’s lying to you. He doesn’t care about you. And we know this because every chance he gets, he has you pay his bills while he gets into his private plane and laughs at you.
Billionaires — even real ones — expecting everyone else to pay their taxes as they soak up all the gains of the economy isn’t some joke: It’s the biggest economic crisis we face. It’s the reason wages aren’t rising, the reason we can’t fix our roads, the reason that cancer patients can’t afford medication.
More than Romney, Trump is the personification of an economy that has been custom built to serve those who were born rich and shameless.
Trump’s constant lying, his endless shifting, his insistence that you can’t pin him down on anything speak to a belief that he assumes you’re an idiot. The antidote for this is that he sells his fans on the idea that they are in on the con. Enroll in Trump University and you’ll never be the sucker. You’ll do the sucking.
But the market for that grift is small — possibly even smaller than the market for the “You didn’t build it” BS.
Maybe this isn’t even necessary given how chancy, pathetic and sadistic he’s proving to be. Even though it’s a indisputable fact that in the last century that the economy has done better under Democrats, Trump still polls quite well on this issue. Saying that he’s a only a quarter-billionaire probably won’t hurt his con.
Pointing out that he’s a living example of why workers can’t get ahead anymore, a fortunate son who won the birth lottery, a con man who thinks you’re a sucker who is so dumb that you can’t possibly see through him.