Donald Trump’s 47% Moment

I never would have guessed that Donald Trump’s 47% moment would be the revelation that he appears to be an actual member of Mitt Romney’s 47%:

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

Of course, we don’t know what taxes Trump actually paid during this time, because he won’t release his tax returns. And now I think we know why. Donald Trump is a notorious skinflint, who famously stiffed his vendors and employees. I’d say it’s a good bet he took advantage of every tax loophole available. As he said at the last debate, “it makes me smart.”

Let me interject here: if you lose $916 million in one year, you should lose the right to call yourself a smart businessman. Just sayin’.

The bigger story here is the utter hypocrisy of right-wing conservatives on this issue. We’ve been hearing for years how the poor are moochers and freeloaders, lining up for “free stuff” on everyone else’s dime. This is a deeply cherished belief that cuts at the heart of blue-collar conservatism: people who could be working are getting free stuff on my dime! (Indeed, I heard this same argument from my right-wing dental hygienist on Friday). It cuts at the core of the “people voting against their economic interests” phenomenon: no, actually, they aren’t voting against their economic interests. The poor aren’t voting, period. The people up a rung or two (or three) on the economic ladder are the ones voting a conservative ticket that promises to slash the safety net because, as the New York Times noted last fall, they believe many of those dependent on benefits are unworthy. Or to put it another way,

[…] their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

It’s resentment, pure and simple. It’s hating on the poor because they are a visible reminder of how the American dream is a lie. It’s always been a lie, it’s just that now it’s happening to people they know, whereas before it was happening to “those” people living in “that neighborhood” (i.e., the blackety black black blacks).

But now it appears the real freeloader is a multi-millionaire. But that’s okay? That person is “smart,” but the person who needs unemployment or food stamps or Medicaid is the “moocher”? Get out of town!

Look, we dirty hippies on the left have been saying for years that the real freeloaders are the wealthy and corporations that don’t pay taxes yet reap tremendous benefits. Donald Trump may not be on food stamps or collect unemployment, but he has prospered from our huge military protecting his vast overseas interests, for example. So yes, the system is rigged, and I don’t think the person to fix it is the guy who has been taking advantage of it for in all likelihood two decades.

And it’s not just Donald Trump:

The documents show, for example, that while Mr. Trump reported $7.4 million in interest income in 1995, he made only $6,108 in wages, salaries and tips. They also suggest Mr. Trump took full advantage of generous tax loopholes specifically available to commercial real estate developers to claim a $15.8 million loss in 1995 on his real estate holdings and partnerships.

But the most important revelation from the 1995 tax documents is just how much Mr. Trump may have benefited from a tax provision that is particularly prized by America’s dynastic families, which, like the Trumps, hold their wealth inside byzantine networks of partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations.

The provision, known as net operating loss, or N.O.L., allows a dizzying array of deductions, business expenses, real estate depreciation, losses from the sale of business assets and even operating losses to flow from the balance sheets of those partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations onto the personal tax returns of men like Mr. Trump. In turn, those losses can be used to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income from, say, book royalties or branding deals.

America’s “dynastic families” do not want to upset the apple cart. The idea that Trump exploited our system and is thus the only one who can fix it is just ludicrous. He’s been whining and complaining about how unfair the tax system is for years. For example:





If he was so “smart” to take advantage of the system to make himself wealthier, why would he fix it? Wouldn’t that make him dumb?

I don’t see an “out” here for him, I really don’t. Trump is not the populist savior people want to believe he is. He’s just another rich asshole, a penny-pincher and skinflint who rips others off for his own personal gain. So you can all shut up about “America first.” The person who doesn’t pay taxes is not thinking about America. He’s thinking about himself.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

4 responses to “Donald Trump’s 47% Moment

  1. June B Butler

    “Let me interject here: if you lose $916 million in one year, you should lose the right to call yourself a smart businessman. Just sayin’.”

    Indeed. Excellent post, SB. Wild-eyed Guiliani was on MSNBC defending Trump, and he happened to mention that the poor don’t pay federal income tax. How is that equivalent to a billionaire paying no federal income tax? The poor pay some of the same taxes that Guiliani says Trump pays, like sales tax. Just sayin’

  2. Maybe, maybe just maybe, after the long, drawn-out audit is finally complete, this can be Trump’s Al Capone moment! I guess Hillary could always pardon him.

    Six thousand in wages, salaries and tips! Ain’t that a kick?

  3. paradoxresearch

    Sorry, but to this day it still hits the nerve:

    “Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.”

    ― Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

  4. Democommie

    When I think of teh Dongald, I think George Babbit, minus the charisma and business acumen.