Trump, Congress, and Taxes

Suggesting that Hillary Clinton was ever in a position to significantly influence tax law is patently false. All tax law is constitutionally mandated to initiate from the House of Representatives. She was the junior Senator from New York. Her potential to influence that area would be only marginally more significant than the average citizen’s. Members of the Senate just do not draft tax policy.

I don’t really see any of this as being about holding Trump individually responsible for anything per se, so much as highlighting a cultural inconsistency. The Republican Party has nominated Trump. Prominent members of that Party have definitely criticized (and I believe demonized) poor(er) people for not paying federal income tax. For those same people to now laud Trump as brilliant for presumably not paying those same taxes is, at the least, tone deaf. *I don’t think it matters for this portion of the discussion whether he actually did or did not pay tax, because the point is the contrast in the attitudes towards people of differing socio-economic strata. That said, Trump actually said “of course I did” when Anderson Cooper asked him if he used that write off to avoid paying any federal income taxes for more than a decade.

And suggesting that poor people who don’t pay income taxes are not contributing to society is both disingenuous and cruel. The majority of the 46–47% of the U.S. population who do not pay federal income taxes are regular wage workers, retirees, military personnel — in other words, people who have contributed and continue to contribute to society. Trump is certainly not of any more inherent value to society than all of those people are. When a “job creator” like Trump hires someone from the “lower classes” to perform labor he is not doing either that individual or the society as a whole some sort of magnanimous favor. He is purchasing a needed service. And, although I personally have no idea what Trump’s pay scale is for every worker he has ever employed, chances are fairly good that some of those workers have been employed at a wage that puts them below the threshold for accruing federal income tax debt. These are not people “just living off a system and requesting more taxes from the top to provide them.”

On something of a side not: if the media is not taking a broad enough or fair enough view of Trump’s tax data, he has no one to blame but himself. He could release the information at any time, just as every other candidate for decades has done. He could take the time to explain himself. He does not. Trump has demanded transparency of other candidates/officials in the past regarding things that no one had ever previously been even asked to display. It does seem suspicious, and perhaps insulting, that he now refuses to provide any transparency in one area in which candidates have traditionally been transparent, and the one realm that might best highlight whether or not he actually is qualified to do the job he seeks. His CV for the position consists of nothing more than his claim that he is a great and highly successful businessman. Let’s see that on paper.


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