On Saturday, Follow the Money at Tax March PDX

This Saturday, April 15, thousands of people in Portland and in 185 cities across the US, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the UK will march to demand that the President of the United States release his tax returns. Despite enormous pressure, Donald Trump remains the only president since Nixon to hide his returns from public view. Why?

Former IRS commissioner Sheldon Cohen once wrote, “Taxation, in reality, is life. If you know the position a person takes on taxes, you can tell their whole philosophy. The tax code, once you you get to know it, embodies all the essence of life: greed, politics, power, goodness.”

But Trump has locked his record away. Trump said during the campaign he could not release his returns until the IRS completed auditing him. And yet, the IRS said there was no such requirement. Lately, Trump has said only journalists care about his returns

As usual, he’s wrong. Three days before he took the oath of office, a poll was released that showed 74% of Americans wanted him to release his returns, and four in ten said they cared “a lot” about the issue. A petition launched on the White House website on January 20, the day of his inauguration, demanded the same. Within five days, the petition had more than 100,000 signatures, the threshold for an official response. The response? “This was litigated during the campaign,” Kellyanne Conway told ABC. “People didn’t care.” That too is wrong. Today, that same petition has over a million signatures.

Clearly the tax returns contain something Trump doesn’t want Americans to see. Would they reveal his global business entanglements violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause? Would they confirm his financial ties to Russian mobsters or government? Would they show that any of his decisions as President are lining his pockets? Has he paid any tax at all or, like the rest of the 1%, does he use tax dodges, shelters, or loopholes to pay less tax than anyone in the middle class?

Democrats in Congress, and specifically on the Ways and Means Committee, have the power to demand that the IRS release Trump’s returns but so far Republicans have blocked the effort.

Trump has diverted public attention from his taxes and his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia through a series of abhorrent and dangerous actions, from the Muslim ban to setting the US Navy on a possible course to nuclear confrontation with North Korea.

Amid these actions, it is a challenge to maintain a focus on bedrock issues. But, like the Russian investigations, the demand for his tax records is a zombie issue — of such fundamental importance that it will not and should not die. It is critical to maintain pressure on Trump and to show we won’t be diverted by his magic show.

Public pressure works. We saw that with the rise of Indivisible, the beating back of an Obamacare replacement and, just this week, the wakeup call for Republicans in Kansas when they nearly lost a sure seat in the home district of Koch Industries headquarters.

This Saturday, April 15, join Tax March PDX, starting at Terry Schrunk Plaza (SW 3rd and Madison). It opens with speakers at 1pm, and from there, it follows the money.

Dick Thompson