Monday, October 3, 2016

Response to Death by Taxes

(See: Just Above Sunset: Death by Taxes)

Could this New York Times tax returns story be the "October Surprise" we’ve all been waiting for? I don’t get the feeling it is. Maybe it’s that it’s too early in the month for that, but something just doesn’t feel right about it.

In fact, I’m wondering if the real October Surprise will come along when Donald Trump confesses that he himself mailed doctored phony documents to the Times, just to catch them in a trap, just to expose how gullible the lying press is, so anxious to embarrass Trump that they’d jump on anything juicy that appears over the transom. His ex-accountant could even be in on it.

But in the meantime, let’s assume the documents are real, in which case, Trump’s not looking like the genius he and his gang of thugs think he is.

My point is that, while Donald Trump was looking out for, shall we call it, his big fat “bottom line”, I and lots of my fellow Americans were shelling out many of our dollars to keep the country going. A lot of people dont realize it but even undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, which means the people he wants to throw out of the country have been doing more for it than he has. 

While he might argue that he has been paying all his workers and keeping the economy churning, but for all that, so do drug kingpins. And just possibly drug dealers actually don’t cheat their workers out of their hard-earned pay like Donald famously does.

Another favorite comeback of Trump’s is that the “government doesn’t spend its money well anyway”, but the answer to that is that one might think Donald Trump would have earned his right to complain about the way the government spends our money if any of it came from him.

And if the point he’s trying to make to his not-so-wealthy political base is that, while he may be a hugely wealthy shit-head, at least he’ll be a shit-head on their behalf, then the real question seems to be, when and if he becomes president, is there any evidence that he will work to change the law, making it no longer possible for extremely rich guys like him to get away with paying no taxes in this way? 

Chris Christie said, “this is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.” The New Jersey governor practiced some of his best spinning on “Fox News Sunday,” arguing that the Times story showcases “the genius of Donald Trump” because he knows tax policy better than anyone. 
“And that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it,” Christie said. “There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver about the tax code as he rightfully used the laws to do that. And he’s already promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don’t have this kind of situation.”
That sounds good, except that I’ve not been able to find any evidence of him actually proposing to do that in his tax plan, which he has already released. If I missed it in there, please let me know, but I’ve heard nobody else can find it either.

On the other hand, even the conservative Tax Foundation has predicted that, while his present tax plan "would significantly reduce income taxes and corporate taxes, and eliminate the estate tax”, it would also "reduce federal revenue by between $4.4 trillion and $5.9 trillion on a static basis.”

Is that good? Only if you don’t want the government to have enough money to pay for what it needs to pay for, or if you don’t mind the country increasing its debt by up to six trillion (that’s “trillion”, with a “t”) dollars. Trump always complains about the size of our debt as it is.

And by the way, maybe any comparison of Trump’s business dealings to that of Leona “The Queen of Mean” Helmsley is even more appropriate than immediately apparent, at least from glancing at her entry on Wikipedia:
Despite the Helmsleys' tremendous wealth (net worth over a billion dollars), they were known for disputing payments to contractors and vendors. One of these disputes would prove to be their undoing. 
In 1983, the Helmsleys bought Dunnellen Hall, a 21-room mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, to use as a weekend retreat. The property cost $11 million, but the Helmsleys wanted to make it even more luxurious. The work included a $1 million dance floor, a silver clock and a mahogany card table. 
The remodeling bills came to $8 million, which the Helmsleys were loath to pay.
Sound familiar?
A group of contractors sued the Helmsleys for non-payment; they eventually paid off most of the debt. 
In 1985, during those proceedings, the contractors revealed that most of their work was being illegally billed to the Helmsleys' hotels as business expenses. The contractors sent a stack of the falsified invoices to the New York Post to prove that the Helmsleys were trying to avoid tax liabilities. The resulting Post story led to a federal criminal investigation. 
Also, Jeremiah McCarthy, the Helmsleys' executive engineer, alleged that Leona repeatedly demanded that he sign invoices to bill personal expenses to the Helmsley company and, when McCarthy declined to do so, Helmsley exploded with tyrannical outbursts, shouting, "You're not my fucking partner! You'll sign what I tell you to sign.”
But then there’s this interesting little tidbit:
In 1988, then United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani indicted the Helmsleys and two of their associates on several tax-related charges, as well as extortion.
I guess he’s glad he’s no longer in the prosecuting business; otherwise, he might have to indict one of his closest friends.

Anyway, her husband was let off because of failing health, but she was eventually convicted on "one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of tax evasion, three counts of filing false personal tax returns, sixteen counts of assisting in the filing of false corporate and partnership tax returns, and ten counts of mail fraud.” The extortion charge was dropped.

She was sentenced to 16 years, but her appeals lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, eventually got that reduced, and she was released after serving only 19 months.
She was forced to give up control of her hotel empire, since most of her hotels had bars and New York does not allow convicted felons to hold alcohol licenses. Mrs. Helmsley lived her final year at her penthouse atop the Park Lane Hotel.
She left a $12 million trust fund for “Trouble”, her Maltese dog, but that was later reduced to $2 million, "as excessive to fulfill its purpose.” I don’t know if Donald has pets, but I can just about see all that other stuff happening to him.

And so we’ll just have to wait and see if this new story in the news about Trump being a cad will make any difference to his support. Even if the staunchest Trumpeters won’t be able to make any sense of it, maybe it will be just enough to keep independents from swinging in his direction.

And do you remember that school dance scene in "Back to the Future", in which Marty (Michael J. Fox) watches as his family fades away in the family photo, and out of his future, as his teenaged mom and dad fail to hook up on the dance floor? I’m reminded of that every time I look at and see Hillary’s chances dropping.

But then I see his family fading back into the photo whenever I go there on days like today, and see her fortunes improving — pushing 70%! — seemingly in response to this Times story, but it probably wouldn’t happen that quickly.

Maybe it’s just because America is coming to its senses anyway, the closer we get to the crucial day.

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