Is it too much to hope this is Trump’s Doom?


As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the New York Times managed to get their hands on Trump’s tax returns, and we finally learn why, unsurprisingly, he refused to release them willingly. He’s a tax cheat, a fraud, and a loser.

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

I pay more in taxes than this “billionaire” — and you probably do, too — which I’m sure his supporters will claim is an example of his canny business acumen. Harder to rationalize with that excuse, though, is that his way out of paying taxes is to lose so much money in the businesses he runs that he is sitting in his office with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, much of which will come due in the next few years. Poor man. I thought I was struggling with a mortgage and legal debts. His daughter is also implicated in the shenanigans, in which he paid her tens of millions of dollars (and paid himself!) that he then declared as losses he could deduct from his taxes.

I’d like to know who he is beholden to, which would have been information we should have had prior to the last election.

And right now, he’s desperate to hold onto the presidency, not for the good of the country, but to escape the financial obligations that are going to splat his griftin’ ass into putrid slimy gibs in the near future. Unless, that is, a lot of bankers see him as representing their just fate and try to shelter him.

Comments

  1. 32bituser says

    — Is it too much to hope this is Trump’s Doom?
    I honestly think yes.. it’s too much to hope. I admit to being greatly fatigued at the continuous “Will </insert shitty thing here> be the end of Trump!!11!??”

    No. the answer is no. It will not be the end of Trump..

  2. flex says

    When will people on the left realize he is above the law?

    When will the people on the right stop praising him for it?

  3. raven says

    Is it too much to hope this is Trump’s doom?

    Yes.
    It is called grasping at straws.

    .1. Trump is a symptom, not a cause.
    By itself, he is just a confused old man, floundering around pretending to be a businessperson and president. He has tens of millions of willing followers and the 1% oligarchy enabling him.
    .2. Empirically, he has done a completely failed job of running the USA.
    Notably failed at dealing the the Covid-19 pandemic and we have 204,000 dead to show for it.
    It hasn’t made any difference to the GOP base by now, so nothing will.

  4. raven says

    What is for sure is that if Trump/GOP manage to hold onto power by massive cheating and voter fraud, that is the end of our democracy forever.
    They can never afford to lose power again.
    If they did, they would all go to prison or worse, and they know it.

    Seizing power illegitimately is like riding a tiger.
    Except you can never get off it and survive.

  5. kome says

    Given how much the right cares about style over substance, I think hammering home what his taxes reveal about Trump is a good rhetorical strategy. But I’m not sure if this de facto”October surprise” report comes in time to have enough of an influence on the election.

  6. Saad says

    The only reason the right likes Trump is how he feels about the people they hate. All the other stuff about jobs and China are just excuses they give to make gullible liberals be nice to them.

    The day Trump supports BLM or says we need to accept more refugees and treat them with dignity is when you’ll see significant portions of his base abandon him and Republican politicians denounce him.

  7. PaulBC says

    Way too much to hope. There were already many rumors that Trump was broke and he has already hinted that he engages in tax avoidance. This attaches specifics to it, but doesn’t change the broad picture.

    I can’t read the mind of a Trump supporter, though I think Trump’s appeal is a kind of fantasy of what they’d do if they were like him and could get away with speaking unfiltered all the time and acting without consequences. This does nothing to change it. It may even enhance it.

    If you’re in it purely for the guy who has consistently packed the courts on behalf of the religious right, this changes nothing.

    Under old rules, you might be worried that a “scandal” would get Trump in legal trouble, but this fix is in for him at every level. If he can’t be penalized for trying get Ukraine to interfere in an election, for blatant Hatch Act violations, and for nepotism at a level not seen in living memory, then why would he get in any trouble for this?

    (I’d like to be proved wrong, but the best I would hope for this is to stir things up for a week or so.)

  8. garnetstar says

    Trump’s “supporters” will just think he’s clever, probably will somehow incorporate this into the QAnon fantasy!

    But, many, many ordinary people resent paying their taxes very much: they feel that they’re being bled. Especially “small government” conservatives. And they very much resent the rich being able to get out of paying. The fantasy that he’s a good businessman and will be “better at fixing the economy” is also a big thing holding normal people to him.

    So, I think that this will sway more of the normal voters, even make some switch. It’s important that he lose as badly as possible, so that we can be in the best possible position when he starts pulling off his coup d’etat. This will help, though not at all impede his attempts to steal the election.

  9. raven says

    All the other stuff about jobs …

    What jobs?
    Unemployment is now 8.4% .
    ” The total of those claiming benefits through all programs, though Aug. 22, also rose to just over 29.6 million.”

    30 million people are unemployed and collecting benefits from one program or another. When those programs run out, those people are going to be in even more trouble.

    And the plan to keep those people alive and indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic is what?
    Right now, in typical GOP fashion, there isn’t one.

  10. Nemo says

    Poor man. I thought I was struggling with a mortgage and legal debts.

    “If you owe the bank $100[,000] that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” — J. Paul Getty

    This is how Trump has operated for his entire life. He even called himself “the king of debt”.

  11. komarov says

    Well, some people keep telling us that government would be far more efficient if run like a business and it takes a business man to do so. Tragically, now if one points to Trump they’ll just repond, “Yeah, well, next time we’ll put a good business man in charge.

    What wasn’t clear to me, though, was how Trump’s apparent annual losses are split between actual losses and lies to dodge taxes. (I went by the BBC reporting) It probably isn’t clear to Trump either but some accountant somewhere must know. I’m also fascinated that big losses are a way to get out of taxes. This in the Capitalist Paradise of America. If the free market chokes the life out of you, tough luck! Being competitive is your job. But while you’re ruining yourself you’re still using public infrastructure and services*, so pay up. Mercy is for socialists! Maybe the IRS he was whining about should start employing some profesisonal leg-breakers and lend some truth to Trump’s words. Oh, they were so mean to me… indeed.
    *And, if you’re big enough, bail-outs.

  12. rpjohnston says

    And we finally learn it when some little guy takes the personal risk to leak it that rag, instead of anything Dems or our vaunted prosecutors bothered to do.

  13. raven says

    This is how Trump has operated for his entire life. He even called himself “the king of debt”.

    It’s more complicated than that.
    Trump declared bankruptcy something like 6 times.

    He took on a lot of debt, transferred that debt to his investors and banks, and let them take the losses. In the meantime, he collected an income stream that was insulated from the debts by corporate firewalls.
    It’s basically, the profits are mine, and the losses are Other People’s problem.
    It might have even been more or less legal.

  14. kevinv says

    This is meaningless for this election. It might have made a difference in 2016, but to paraphrase a tweet from Ken White (@popehat): people that still support Trump do so not because he’s great at business, nor because he pays taxes, but because he hates the same people they hate.

    The key metric in this election is getting people to vote because you aren’t going to turn anymore people away from Trump.

  15. PaulBC says

    @15

    Tragically, now if one points to Trump they’ll just repond, “Yeah, well, next time we’ll put a good business man in charge.

    I have never favored putting a businessperson in the White House and the track record has been pretty bad (e.g. Herbert Hoover). The private and public sectors work according to different rules. Public debt is wildly different from business debt, and the goals of government are almost the opposite, and not driven by a “bottom line.”

    On the other hand, I have nothing against business people working in business. I have liked most of the CEOs of companies where I work and an incompetent or unethical one is real morale crusher for me. Trump has always been a flim-flam artist. It has always been incredibly offensive to competent business people to refer to him in the same breath. So what I would say is that even electing a competent business person as president is not a good idea, but Trump is not a test of that hypothesis.

  16. says

    the profits are mine, and the losses are Other People’s problem.

    That’s capitalism 101. The problem is not that Trump doesn’t see that as wrong it’s that all capitalists see that as, “well, duh.”

  17. harryblack says

    Is it all that different from the returns of a normal rich person?
    What would really rile him would be to see Obamas tax returns for the year before he took office.

  18. whheydt says

    I have suspected for some years now that Trump actually has a negative net worth. These results appear to confirm that.

    So… Trump is busy saying it’s all lies. He could prove that easily in minutes…by releasing his tax returns. That he hasn’t done so is certainly at least circumstantial evidence that the NYT got it right.

  19. robro says

    I had been expecting this. Someone, somewhere was bound to leak his returns to a news source. It reveals exactly what I expected. You can do some amazing things if your businesses can hire an army of tax accountants and lawyers to make it work. That’s what the Trump gang does.

    whheydt — I don’t think you can tell Trump’s “net worth” from these tax returns. They are specifically designed to obscure his worth and his taxable income. Although they show huge losses and debts, that’s for the tax man. They have plenty to live on. As the NYT article suggests, because his personality…his “brand”…is the product of his businesses he can write off everything as an expense…haircuts, golf games, dinners at his properties, travel, toiletry, hamburgers. The whole family does it and they’ve been doing it for decades.

  20. bionichips says

    And for the religious right, all is forgiven if they get the Supreme Court. Literally nothing else matters.

    I am doing texting for Biden and had someone respond “I am a Republican, nothing will change my mind.” I doubt this will.

    All of the rational people have left the republican party – best we can hope for is this will convince the small minority of undecided voters.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Satire sites have a better chance of making an imprint than ordinary news.
    Like Bush, these crooks do not mind being hated but they hate being laughed at.
    Which reminds me, today is Trevor Noah’s fifth anniversary as host of The Daily Show, having replaced Jon Stewart.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    BTW, everyone with some insight in European politics knows the Democrats are a conservative party. There are some nominal ‘liberals’ who are OK with guns, the death penalty and market liberalism.
    Hell, Angela Merkel is a conservative chancellor and she is administrating policies that are way tougher on corporations than anything Democrats stand for.

  23. says

    Forget undecided voters. Bring in more new voters. Educate 17-year-olds and immigrants. They should already be with the prohram but they need to act in self-defense.

  24. lotharloo says

    I feel like a lot of people are misreading the situation. This can easily hurt Trump a lot but Democrats need to play their cards well. There are some major differences between this scandal and most other Trump scandals:

    1) This is about an information that Trump has and can release. Most Trump scandals are either things that a normal Republican does not care about, or does not think it’s bad (e.g., asking Ukraine to investigate Biden) or is supported by anonymous sources (easily brushed away) or involves people who can be branded as “Never Trumpers”, (e.g., all the ex-employees). A lot of Trump’s scandals can end his presidency, for example, if they could prove that he called American soldiers and veterans “suckers and losers” his support would crumble. He can ignore all such scandals because he can just call them fake news. or say that the sources are lying. But this one is different.

    2) This shows Trump’s massive incompetence. Incompetence is a universally disqualifying trait. An average Trump voter might like the fact that he’s an asshole, a racist, or a sexist but they will not like that he is incompetent or a conman. But Trump paying 0 or 750 dollars in taxes is not something that an average undecided voter can reconcile with their mental picture of Trump.

    3) This puts Biden at offense and Trump in defense and Trump sucks at playing defense. Biden and Democrats can chip at and peel away Trump’s support if they keep drumming this issue. If they bring this up enough times, an average undecided voter, or maybe not a very fanatical Trump voter can go “Enough dude, why not release the returns because obviously Biden is not going to give up”. The same way when Trump was pressuring Obama on his birth certificate, some of Obama supporters would have wanted him to release his birth certificate.

    4) And according to polls, voters are interested in Trump’s tax returns. It is not an unimportant issue.

    So I think this can hurt Trump but Democrats and Biden need to keep the pressure. Trump voters do not trust NYT. A lot of the independents don’t trust NYT. If Biden and Democrats let this one slide, those people will shrug it off and forget about it. But imagine:

    Biden brings this up five, six, or ten times every debate.
    He runs different ads about it.
    He prints his tax returns and brings them to one debate. In the next debate, he brings Reagan’s returns. He wears a giant pin with “Tax Returns: Released” in big letters to another debate.
    He keeps the issue alive without getting distracted by other scandals. He doesn’t need to bang on it 24/7 but he needs to bring it up with enough frequency that an average undecided voter would go “Yeah, I’m sick of this issue, just release the returns and let this one go.”

  25. flexilis says

    Presidential candidates releasing their tax returns has been a “tradition”, a “norm”. We have seen how Trump treats traditions and norms and ethics. What is needed at a minimum is a new law that requires any candidate for president or vice president to release tax returns (say for the previous 5 years) before they can file for election. And also they must be required to divest business interests, not just encouraged to do so. This administration has been a galloping conflict of interest since the beginning of the 2016 campaign. If this law discourages some from running, that is all to the good.

  26. aronymous says

    Trump paid Ivanka tens of millions of dollars?
    I’m looking forward to seeing how much she paid in taxes on that.

  27. unclefrogy says

    I woke up this morning and there was part of me that was sorry for “The Idiot”. It points out what kind of shape he is really in.
    Here he is and his taxes are now public, what can he do?
    If they are 100% true he really is not rich, his whole image is shattered.
    If the docs are false he is likely in deeper trouble with the Tax man then he is already.
    He has massive losses and massive debt.
    who holds the bulk of the debt? Will they hold off collection or force the issue.
    Do unknown banks hold it or is it the Russian Mob.
    knowledge of the holders may expose him to a whole lot of negativity and more intense scrutiny.
    The Russian Mod collects one way or the other as has been demonstrated.
    he needs to win the election at all costs to at least delay the consequences if not avoid them entirely so expect anything.

    uncle frogy

  28. PaulBC says

    lotharloo@30 You may be right, but as popular meme once put it, I’ll never understand how making fun of a disabled reporter didn’t end it. He also has no deniability on the Access Hollywood tape (unlike his comments on veterans). So if there is something different about this case, I’ll be damned if I can see it. Maybe you are better at thinking like a Trump supporter than I am.

  29. PaulBC says

    lotharloo@30 Also, though I had no proof and couldn’t possibly guess the details, I always assumed his finances and tax liabilities were a dumpster fire or he’d have revealed them. So you may be right that this is big news. But I will just wait and see, because it’s not obvious to me.

  30. Marissa van Eck says

    Yes, it’s too much to hope. He has more than 1/3 of the country on his side like religion and his team has ratfucked the electoral apparatus so very badly that any result is suspect. He’s going to win again.

  31. tacitus says

    @30:

    I feel like a lot of people are misreading the situation.

    I don’t think they are. Remember when Trump said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and he wouldn’t lose any voters? It was hyperbole, of course, but it’s closer to the truth now than it ever has been. After the utter shambles of his governance since the start of the pandemic, he’s only lost a couple of points in his favorability ratings. Bush Jr. was dipping below 30% at the same stage of his second term, and he only had a financial crisis to deal with.

    After five years of “Fake news, fake news!” his base has been inoculated against believing anything bad about him coming out in the press. The worse it is, the more they will simply deny it. Trump has become the living embodiment of a conspiracy theory, and there is nothing would be able to shake the 40% of the electorate who is going to vote for him come hell or high water.

    The National Review has dismissed the New York Times story as old news, and they’re not even particularly keen on Trump, (though being loyal Republicans, they’re limiting themselves to the usual bashing of Democrats), and one of the comments on the story — in response to Biden supporter — claimed that if you want to survive the pandemic, vote Trump because he has a plan to manage it, while Biden has no plan at all. These people are unreachable.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the constant torrent of bad news for Trump will help suppress Republican turnout, and it’s possible it might persuade a handful of low information voters who are now just starting to pay attention, but that’s about it.

  32. Rusty Reed says

    Trump could win the election with one simple act – release his taxes and prove to everyone that he has been telling us the truth about the NYTimes (and every other non-fascist outlet) being Fake News and just making up crap to hurt him.
    That won’t happen, and the reason should be obvious to every Trumper.

  33. wzrd1 says

    Also of interest, Ivanka and likely the brothers also are executive officers of his companies and were additionally being paid consulting fees for companies that they were officers of. That’s rather an interesting practice…

  34. lotharloo says

    @PaulBC
    The “grab them by the pussy” comment almost cost him the election. His numbers took a nose dive and it took a while for them to recover. He apologized for it (one of the very very few cases that he did) and he played defensive for a while. The problem with the access Hollywood tapes is that it is not something Trump voters really care about. They don’t care too much about sexist language. They ultimately brushed it off as “boys will be boys”, “not-PC talk” and “locker room talk”. A similar thing applies to making fun of a disabled journalist. Trump voters by default don’t like journalists, they think they are all liars, so Trump’s comment can be brushed off as a “not-PC talk”, or “just a joke”.

  35. lotharloo says

    @tacitus

    If you convince only 10% of Trump voters to just stay home, then Biden wins a landslide. But if you think a “torrent of bad news will hurt Trump” then you are wrong. Because their base and in general a typical Republican voter does not trust the mainstream media. His entire presidency has been a torrent of bad news, leaks, and mismanagement. But Trump is unique among the Republican presidents in the sense that he sounds very convincingly genuine. So of course his base will believe that “Trump has a plan and Biden does not”, or that “if it were anyone else, the situation would have been worse”. But the tax issue is about something that Trump has and with enough pressure, I think it is possible peel away 10% of his support. It is a little bit similar to Ukraine tape situation where Democrats tried to pressure Trump to release it but with the obvious difference that an average Trump voter probably agrees with Trump that Biden should be investigated. But there is no way in hell that an average Trump voter thinks that a billionaire should pay 750$ in taxes.

    GWB’s approval ratings were already tanked when the financial crisis happened https://news.gallup.com/poll/116500/presidential-approval-ratings-george-bush.aspx so it is not true that a financial crisis would always tank the approval ratings.

  36. khms says

    I think a torrent of bad news might actually turn out to help Trump, because while it probably won’t touch his supporters, it could convince some Democrat voters to stay at home in the belief that this much bad news means Democrats won’t need their vote to win.

  37. KG says

    khms@42,

    Contrariwise, most people like to be on the winning side, and to feel they played a part in it winning.

  38. says

    Fanks blew a thick cloud of pungent smoke before replying.

    “That’s a fool’s way of looking at things,” he said comfortably. “What is ruin? There’s no ruin except death, and death is preferable to insomnia.”

    “It’s all very well for you to be philosophical,” said the other irritably, “but I can’t afford to be; you’re a rich man—”

    Fanks laughed, and Pinlow noticed that no line appeared in his face when he laughed. He just opened his mouth without expression and emitted a chuckling gurgle of sound.

    “Rich, am I?” he asked. “I’m rich in credit. Pinlow, I owe nearly half a million.”

    He said this proudly.

    “And I shall never pay it,” he added, “and, what’s more, my creditors wouldn’t like me to pay it. I live on my liabilities, and am respected—any fool can live on twenty shillings in the pound.”

    Grey Timothy by Edgar Wallace (Originally published 1913)

    The only way this will make any difference is if there is a significant chunk of the public which has all of the following properties:
    • Either voted for Trump in 2016 or did not vote in 2016
    • Was stupid enough to believe that Trump’s finances weren’t a dumpster fire (which was reasonably obvious all along)
    • Thinks that declaring a loss to avoid taxes is a negative thing
    • Considers this important enough to vote differently than they did in 2016
    • Lives in a state which went to Trump in 2016

    I’m not really convinced that there are that many people who meet all those qualifications.

    On the other hand, I am willing to believe that Biden already has enough support to win without this revelation. Then again, in between Trump throwing his temper tantrum, Biden was trying desperately hard to disavow anyone to the left of Ronald Reagan, and to my astonishment even some major news media commented on it, so he may manage to throw the election yet.

  39. PaulBC says

    @43

    Contrariwise, most people like to be on the winning side, and to feel they played a part in it winning.

    You’d think, but I sometimes wonder. I had someone tell me with pride that he had not voted for a major party candidate since 1972 (or maybe the election before). Some Democrats want to win, but the urge seems to be a lot stronger on the Republican side.

  40. PaulBC says

    Vicar@44 I agree with most of your analysis, shocking to say. I will still vote for Biden, just as I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, because I honestly don’t see a meaningful alternative.

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