Tuesday, November 01, 2016


We know that Donald Trump avoiding paying taxes for many years. Today The New York Times offers an explanation of how he pulled that off: He deducted debt of nearly a billion dollars even though he swapped equity in Trump partnerships for some of that debt, which meant he didn't have to pay the entire amount he owed. The tax trick was legally dubious and was eventually outlawed.

And much of the public, especially the heartland whites who are giving Trump strong support, won't care.

We know heartland voters won't care because we know from various news reports that Trump gives very little to charity, stiffs contractors, stiffed students at Trump University, and so on -- he's an unethical businessman and also a terrible businessman, and he doesn't do anything of redeeming value with the wealth he's managed to amass. And yet he's neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in the polls, and he has a strong and enduring base of support in Middle America.

Don't talk to me about "the rise of populism." Heartlanders, particularly Trump voters, are still living in a Reaganite world, where CEOs can do what they want because, by definition, they're "job creators" and thus demigods. Being a rich businessman might have hurt Mitt Romney, but that's because it's probably hard for the heartland to wrap its collective mind around the question of what exactly Romney did for a living when he was becoming a billionaire. The Obama campaign stepped into that breach, explaining that Romney was in the business of investing in companies and squeezing them for profits, with little or no interest in actually producing goods or services. There's some vestigial New Deal class resentment in the heartland, and a number Middle American voters responded to that message. That's why Obama won Ohio and Iowa as well as the more diverse states you'd have expected him to win.

But Trump played a guy on TV who makes things and builds things and sells the things he makes and builds, and does so with a smile on his face for the consumer. He played a guy who mentored other wannabe providers of tangible goods and services. And even before he was on TV he made his 1% status into entertainment for the masses, as we here in New York know from decades of painful experience.

So Trump brought the heartlanders back home to Reaganism. That means they've never heard a word we've said about Trump's business failings and his lack of financial ethics. Oh, sure, they know the right answer when pollsters ask whether Trump should release his tax returns, --but he won't and they're not going to punish him at the polls, so we know they don't care. They're like the gun owners who tell pollsters they support expanded background checks -- it's nice as far as it goes, but they'll never vote against the candidates who are unswervingly opposed to doing that.

We're lucky Trump's other character failings have been on such prominent display throughout this campaign. Mocking a disabled reporter for a few seconds in a speech hurt him more than being a lifelong crook. He may lose this election, but his way with a dollar won't have defeated him.


Unknown said...

He might be a jerk but he's their jerk.

Anonymous said...

What proportion of the general public would be able to say confidently how Trump got rich in the first place? And what would they say -- "hotels"? I'm not sure about "tangible goods and services." Chris Matthews describes Trump as a "builder" rather often, but is that how people would describe him? I'm not sure. I feel like he's more like Regis Philbin or something, a guy who's a celebrity because he's on TV and on TV because he's a celebrity. And what they like isn't what he does or has done, it's his attitude. Romney didn't have that. And at any rate, Trump may well underperform Romney.

Diane said...

A high school classmate who is a Facebook friend and fervent Trump supporter has said repeatedly that Trump should not release his taxes. It's nobody's business! When reminded that every other candidate since Nixon has done so, she doesn't care. She wouldn't release her taxes if she were running for office, and Trump shouldn't have to either.

And in response to flipyrwig, yes, she thinks Trump is a builder and a job creator and a problem-solver and those are his qualifications to run the country.

Feud Turgidson said...


And per the great eerie divide in our current hyper-polarized national politics, as of this point in the arc of their respective presidencies, Obama enjoys a higher approval rating than did Saint Ronnie of the Shining Hill - indeed, ANY POTUS since such ratings first were measured back in the 1930s other than FDR & Bill Clinton.

Indeed, the LOWEST national approval rating Obama has ever received from the oldest largest most established national pollster in the US since such ratings were first measured is 37% - a ratio that matches or exceeds higher every other POTUS for whom measurements were taken not named Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy.

That is, Obama's lowest approval rating was higher than the lowest of Mr. Relatable Dubya, of the Great 'Splainer the Clenis, of magical muddled saintly Ronnie, & of Tricky Dick.

Point being: it appears highly unlikely that Obama, or indeed any of him, Bill Clinton, Ike and FDR, was the prime cause of or even a major contributor to our current great eerie national political polarization.

Anonymous said...

Penis envy. If they could "get away with it" they would. At least in their eyes. Putting one over on The Man. One of 'Meirca's Great National Pastimes (Foke Yeah!). Guzzling gas, grabbing ass.

Candyasses didn't have balls enough to be against government when against government wasn't cool, now they're acting out their adolescent fantasies.

Penis envy,
Ten Bears

Orthodox said...

There's a song on the new Drive-By Truckers album that's a great diagnosis of the more sinister kind of Trump voter. It's called Ramon Casiano. Hop to YouTube and check it out.

Procopius said...

As for the tax thing, have you noticed that Trump has been audited many times by the IRS? Just routine auditing, they audit rich people a lot more than people like me. Now it's mildly interesting that Izvestia on the Hudson found a tax expert who looked at the partial documentation they have, and nodded sagely, and said, "Ayup. He sure was pushing the envelope there. They might very easily have declared that illegal. Yup." But the point is, the IRS looked at it with the full documentation Trump provided and decided it wasn't illegal. And a couple of years lager Congress noticed what they had done and changed the law, but you can't make a past action illegal if it was legal when it was done.I dislike Trump, and I don't like that he was able to make millions through shady dealing, but he did, and his creditors did forgive the debts and it was ugly and dishonest, but it wasn't illegal.