Trump, Taxes and Timing

So the “October Surprise” is here, even a few days early. Trump reportedly paid but a pittance in federal income taxes in certain years. Just what do the Democrats/NYT expect to gain from this report?

Trump will respond by noting that he pays, for instance, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes, and a similar amount in sales taxes and so on. He’ll also point out the various financial scandals among the Dems, starting with Nancy Pelosi, whose gains were not only illicit but harmful to American investors etc.

And then what? No one will be surprised that many of the rich don’t pay much income tax. And the more the Democrats try to play up the issue, the less time and money they devote to issues they perceive will help them, such as Covid-19 and climate change.

Impeachment over the tax issue? Ever heard the term “selective prosecution”? Led by Pelosi? Really? The American people would see through that too.

Many will be outraged that someone in the IRS or Trump’s bank etc. illegally released Trump’s returns. That the NYT is proud that it stole this information also will trouble many.

Around this time in 2016, the Hollywood Confidential tapes came out. The Dems really thought that was a “gotcha.” But the tape really backfired on the Dems. It was brought up in the next debate with Hillary, and Trump responded by pointing out that Bill Clinton paid a legal judgment of $800,000 to one of the women he harassed. The camera then moved to Bill Clinton, sitting in the wings, very humiliating for all. Instead of leading Hillary to victory, it just caused a cynical “pox on both your houses” feeling toward both sides.

What so many fail to understand is that people don’t vote for Trump because they like him. But they like enough of his policies so much that they would vote for him no matter what, e.g. pocketbook issues, societal issues, safety issues. Many are more interested in their own tax bills rather than Trump’s.

The Democrats still haven’t learned that lesson. They are still pitching their wares to the large coastal cities plus Chicago, and even then are focusing their pitch on anti-Trump rather than pro-Biden.

I always think of the UK journalist who spent most of 2016 in Iowa. He found watching the national news rather surreal, with the journalists treating events as a kind of “in” joke shared by urban liberals, nothing that Iowans could relate to.

Not to say Biden won’t win. Maybe he will, maybe not. But if he does win, it won’t be about Trump’s taxes.

10 thoughts on “Trump, Taxes and Timing

  1. The point about voting for Trump is not about voting for Trump. Completely right. My wife and I, who have moved way to the right since 2012 and Obama’s attempts to destroy the USA citizen working class, often comment about what a dumbshit Trump is. I will vote for him enthusiastically none-the-less. Because Biden’s comments, already, are completely unacceptable about immigration, work visas, and open-borders.

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    • Immigration is not a top issue with most voters in either party. A prominent politician once told me that, and polls have backed that up. Probably true re China too.

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  2. At this point, the campaign is all about turnout and votes. The campaigns will run over their grandmothers for a few percentage points in close races.

    Trump’s support thrives on grievance. Cheating on your taxes is not exactly a plus for him, especially when his own tax bill gave him more tax breaks.

    Trump’s turnout will go down a little and Biden’s turnout will solidify.

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  3. This is a great analysis, in my view, and it makes me wonder what on earth is going on at the NY Times. Matthew Lynn, in the UK Telegraph, makes similar points.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/09/28/nothing-shocking-trumps-tax-returns/

    He points out that most people understand that such returns are normal for entrepreneurs and tycoons, and that if critics achieved their aims, they would exclude all but salaried staffers from the presidency.

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  4. A smart person will take advantage of the tax code in calculating and paying their taxes. There are many who owe taxes and simply do not pay them or use bankruptcy as a way out. A relative of mine had a $700K debt including state and federal taxes mostly discharged by bankruptcy. Seven years later – immediately after the time limit for which bankruptcy is an decision factor – they purchased a $400K house with an indoor pool in a moderate cost area with $0 down. They are living like royalty on our money. Taxes were legitimately owed but not paid.

    The way to solve the inequities is to change the tax code.

    It is reported that approximately 50% of all people pay no income taxes. If you have no “investment”, you don’t care that those – the working, middle class and retirees who have saved for the future – are footing the bills for both end of the income spectrum. It is not just on taxes where the workers are being hurt.

    When some statistics show that a single mother of two get benefits worth over $50K per year, it is not hard to understand why those of us who drive by Section 8 housing where no creature is stirring at 7am on cold winter mornings on our way to work for less than $50K before taxes are angry and want someone to care about us.

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    • “It is reported that approximately 50% of all people pay no income taxes.”
      I got so tired of hearing of Romney’s “47% pay no taxes” that I tracked down the report. What the report said, was 46% who pay no taxes are students and seniors who work less than 13 weeks a year (no income, no income taxes) and the other 1% are THE 1%.
      And I’d expect no different distortion in the “some statistics” that “show” …

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  5. The tax code benefits the wealthy – or at least high income workers. Since most of those involved in “fixing” the laws benefit from the existing ones, changes to benefit the average worker are unlikely.

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