Taxes, Trump And 2020

In an introduction to his daily newsletter, the New York Times’ David Leonhardt recently commented on the most recent effort to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns, and the continued refusal of Trump and his Treasury Department to provide them.

The most innocent possibility is that he isn’t nearly as wealthy as he has long boasted, and he’s embarrassed by the truth. A less innocent possibility is that he has financial ties that could create political problems for him if those ties became public — for example, ties to Russia or other countries to which his foreign policy has been suspiciously friendly.

The release of the returns would let “Americans decide whether the president is making decisions that benefit his businesses at the expense of American taxpayers,” Aaron Scherb of Common Cause, the government watchdog group, has written in USA Today. “If Trump has significant debt to banks and/or individuals in certain countries, some of which might be adversaries of the United States, we must know because his foreign policy decisions might be compromised.”

Whatever the reason, it is obvious that Trump is hiding something. And it isn’t only his tax situation. We’re also supposed to believe his repeated bragging that he is smart (despite copious evidence to the contrary), and ignore the fact that he has threatened to sue his high school and college if they release his grades.

His stubborn refusal to release his taxes, however, suggests a relatively simple strategy to prevent his earning a second term in office. Bear with me here.

There is a lot wrong with our current electoral system, and one of the “wrongest” is that each state has the authority to administer election contests within that state. That allows for a lot of mischief (if you don’t believe me, look at Georgia’s last, arguably stolen,  gubernatorial contest), but mischief is as mischief does…

States can make  rules governing candidates access to the state’s ballot. Last year, legislation was introduced in some twenty-six states to make disclosure of five years of tax returns a condition of accessing that state’s ballot, but none has yet passed.

There is hope from Washington State, however, as The Stranger pointed out a couple of weeks ago.

On Tuesday evening a bill requiring all presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose the last 5 years of their tax returns in order to appear on Washington state ballots passed the Senate floor. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), passed 28 to 21 along party lines, because of course it did.

If Gov. Inslee ends up signing this bill, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Joe Bernie Sanders Warren Harris would have to show us the money if they want to get a vote from a single Washingtonian.

Twenty-six other states have introduced similar legislation, but so far none have taken. Two years ago, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill that passed through both chambers there.

Over the phone, Sen. Kuderer said she was “optimistic” Inslee would see “the wisdom in this bill” and sign it if it gets to him, making Washington state the first to force candidates to disclose returns to get on the ballot.

“Voters have a right to know what a candidate’s conflict of interests are, they have a right to know their businesses’ ties, their obligations, who they’re beholden to,” Kuderer said. “We’ve come to expect presidents and vice presidents to release their tax returns. It’s become a vital piece of information when making a decision for the office,” she added.

Last week, the Illinois legislature also took steps toward passing such a requirement.

If just a couple of states were to require disclosure as a condition of appearing on the ballot of that state, we could assure The Donald’s defeat in 2020. Either he would finally make his returns public–allowing us to see whatever highly damaging information he has been hiding–or he would lose enough votes, both popular and electoral, to deny him a second term.

Because allowing him to remain in office beyond the term we are already suffering through would be very taxing…


  1. Does anyone really think that seeing Trump’s tax returns will change his supporter’s minds about him? “Gee, Martha, I didn’t know he was a liar and a cheat.” If the past three years haven’t changed Republican Minds, nothing will. That said, I would like to see laws that make ALL tax returns made public.

  2. Theresa is correct in that Trump’s tax returns will not change the minds of his supporters, they have been waiting too long for the freedom to unleash their racism and violence in all their ugly forms. Release of his (and the others names) tax forms have been in the past a matter of being forthcoming (transparency) about their investments in and income from Made In America businesses…or otherwise. Trump’s past IRS records are of interest due to his claims of wealth; more importantly of their sources. His forms for 2017 and 2018 are of supreme interest to the country at large but especially to both parties in Congress due to their sources and would show if he ever actually divested his business interests as he swore to do and stated he had done.

    I’m sure we already know the answer but seeing the documented facts MIGHT wake up those in Congress who are still supporting his every lie and backing his changing whims and attacks on imagined enemies within our own government. They are supposed to be the controlling body of government to protect this country from a president such as Trump; they are as dangerous as he has proven himself to be…if not more so.

    “Because allowing him to remain in office beyond the term we are already suffering through would be very taxing…”

  3. I’m not sure this would make a bit of difference. The only states that world do this are states that are reliably blue already. Trump would be denied the ballot in states he wasn’t going to win anyway. I don’t think this plan affects his chances of winning a second term at all.

  4. I’m enjoying the thought of Steve Mnuchin being hauled off to jail and having a substantial fine assessed for not following the law and releasing 45’s taxes to the Chairman of Ways and Means. I wonder if 45 has promised to pardon him.

  5. In doing our taxes I found out our deductions were worthless and we will pay more federal. I guess I’m not rich enough to find loopholes to hide my money like elite politicians.
    Bernie will be affected, Trump won’t and he’ll probably sue anyway to keep them private no matter what the circumstances are.

  6. I think Theresa, JoAnn and Dirk are correct.

    Equally questionable is the timely and favorable judicial resolution of these State measures as it pertains to the Presidential Qualifications and the Presidential Elections Clause in the Constitution.

    Wasted effort?

  7. The fact that both Trump and the IRS are denying access to his tax returns is only fomenting support from the anti-government crowd. I’m not sure how the IRS is refusing a demand from Congress.

    Those hoping to see connections to Russia will be disappointed…once again. Maybe once Assange gets back to the USA, a congressional hearing will be called by one of our committees and we can get to the bottom of the DNC shenanigans. The CIA may have worked over the Ecuadorian president, but bringing Assange to America opens Pandora’s box.

    I suspect another tidbit from Trump’s tax returns is he’s technically bankrupt again. Most of his properties might be leveraged to the hilt erasing his net worth.

    Generally speaking, if you cannot be an open book or transparent, you are concealing damaging info you do not want others to see/know.

    As for 2020, the DNC has to quit playing games and quit accepting the millions coming from Wall Street. They need to focus on grassroots campaigning so they can represent the people–NOT Wall Street. If they toss another Joe Biden at Trump…well…at least we’ll have plenty of blogging material with four more years of Trump. 😉

  8. The arguments pro and con on how the states are going to force Trump to show up with his tax returns in order to qualify for their ballots are interesting. True, Madison gave the election of federal candidates to the tender mercies of the states, but just how such powers are exercised can become a federal question of constitutionality as we saw in the wrongly decided case of Bush v. Gore which, by the way, triggered my resignation from the Supreme Court bar.

    One of the contributors today suggests that not allowing Trump’s name on their ballot would not do the trick since such states would be reliably Democratic anyway and Trump would have nothing to lose given our winner take all electoral count. I think that observation has limits, and here’s why > Polls show that a majority of Republicans as well as Democrats want to see his tax returns, which suggests that perhaps some red states could copy Washington and Illinois with a threat if not passage of such legislation and while that is an admittedly “perhaps,” non-cult Republicans could go along with minority Democrats in some red states to force the issue since, after all, such an effort is a housekeeping measure that should be treated in bipartisan fashion.

    I have felt strongly that Trump is compromised since hearing Trump, Jr. say that their businesses got a lot of money from Russian banks and the only bank in New York that will loan Trump money, Deutschebank, a Frankfort-based German bank that has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for money laundering.

    We the people of whatever political stripe need to know if, ultimately, our national security is being compromised by Trump’s business interests with adversaries such as Russia, especially when we know he has had five secret conferences with Putin, has never had a bad word for this murdering dictator, has put down NATO on cue, encouraged domestic divisiveness, had a campaign committee peppered with criminals with Russian and Ukrainian business connections, and has in general cozied up to dictators around the world.

    I think getting his tax returns is just a start. We should also at a minimum require the American translators present at his five conferences with Putin to testify in classified hearings before appropriate committees of the Congress, a Congress which can hardly conduct its constitutional duty to oversee the executive when the executive hides what he is doing in our name from our representatives, and while I have little faith in referring what he has done and is doing to a DOJ headed by Barr, perhaps Trump can be held in Contempt of Congress.

  9. Trump will fight having is fraudulent self being shown to the public all the way to his hand-picked SCOTUS. If anyone thinks John Roberts will save us from right-wing extremism, read his biography now in print. He’s just another elitist, Federalist Society prick who will follow the company line. The court’s compromised political position has rendered the court worthless to the majority of citizens’ rights.

    Of COURSE Mnuchin will not allow the tax returns to be given to Congress. Of COURSE the Trip-picked head of the IRS will fiddle the rules. Of COURSE Trump will pardon everyone indicted. Of COURSE Wm. Barr will do everything possible to squelch Trump being exposed as the criminal and crime family head.

    These are Republicans and what the Republican party has become in such a very short time: Thieves, liars, cheats and power abusers. Until they are all gone, we will continue to descend, as a nation, into the abyss of criminality. What force will help us if a REAL crisis hits our nation while these rats are in charge? I’m glad I’m old and have lead a fulfilled life.

  10. No matter the supporters of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence will not be moved. The Trumpeter’s will see this as just another attack by the Deep State via Big Government to over turn the results of the 2016 election.

    I agree seeing President Agent Orange’s tax returns would be enlightening. When I was in College in a finance class the teacher joked about a company hiring an accountant. Three candidates were asked what is two plus two?? the first two answered four. The third candidate answered what ever you want it to be. Given the type of people President Agent Orange has surrounded himself with, the candidate he would select is number three.

    At some point candidate number three would have to be thrown to wolves. Think Jeff Sessions, or Rex Tillerson for starters.

  11. Thank you Sheila,

    “Because allowing him to remain in office beyond the term we are already suffering through would be very taxing…”

    It would be far worse than that. It would be catastrophic. Every day this farce grows worse.

  12. If Gerald Stinson revisits this item, I would be interested in his expanding upon his comment that “…Madison gave the election of federal candidates to the tender mercies of the states, but just how such powers are exercised can become a federal question of constitutionality.” On the one hand, the only qualifications in the Constitution for the Presidency are being a natural born citizen of the U.S. and being at least 35 years old. Can and to what extent can a state election law further limit that?

  13. Oh by the way going back to yesterday’s blog about Julian Assange – Washington, April 4, 2019 – The World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$ 350 million loan to support the Ecuadorian government in improving the equality.

    Quid Quo Pro???? Quid pro quo (“something for something” in Latin) is a Latin phrase used in English to mean an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; “a favor for a favor”.

    Assange was of course forced out of Ecuador’s Embassy in London on April 11.

  14. Monotonous,
    Once US foreign policy could be summed up as “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” Under Trump our foreign policy is “Speak loudly and carry a loan agreement.”

  15. Worry not if his base takes the revelation of his tax returns without a care. Already there has been a significant swing of Independents who voted for Trump away from Trump. Seeing his tax returns will only further move them away. There are a large number of independents, perhaps more than in Trump’s base

    Even if only a couple of large states require candidates to release their tax returns, either the candidate will forego being on the ballot in those states or, if choosing to be on the ballot in those states due to their large electoral college weight, the tax information becomes public knowledge everywhere.

  16. Don – see Bush v. Gore where, as the minority pointed out, no such case had ever gone beyond the state supreme court on such grounds. The court (in my view) nonetheless asserted jurisdiction over what I (and the minority) thought was a matter of exclusive state jurisdiction. Other examples involve poll taxes and one-man one vote holdings and the like (but on different grounds) where I have approved federal intervention by the feds in state elections. I think there is a difference in merely counting the votes and denying the vote, hence the seeming contradiction.

  17. In the unlikely event that enough Red States pass such a measure to make this a problem for Trump, he and his team will paint the strategy as an attempted coup and an invasion of privacy. They will launch a massive write-in campaign in states where he is not on the ballot. Write-ins are usually doomed and scant few have succeeded. But these are the cursed interesting times and such a campaign could get some traction, especially with Trump’s base and voters suspicious of overreach. Congress must enforce the law and use contempt citations and impeachment of Cabinet members who refuse to obey the law. The law seems pretty clear on getting those returns. It’s pointless to keep pushing out the deadline. We might lose in court, but it’s also the only place we could win.

  18. Unless Trump’s tax returns reveal that he tortures puppies and spits out grits, the good people of South Carolina (and, I suspect, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, etc.) will forgive him for whatever trespasses are revealed. We can’t overcome him by proving his criminality, his mendacity, his mediocrity, his intertwined network of neuroses, his unfitness for office, his third-grade mastery of the English language, his treasonous tendencies, his passion for Putin or his rejection of the rule of law. These moral blemishes are, to Trumpsters, what makes him so adorable. With a massive surge of energy and dedication, however, we can re-produce the voter turnout that won the 2018 midterms. That is our one and only option for overcoming the only president to make Richard Nixon seem cute and cuddly by comparison.

  19. Most of you will be supremely disappointed if the tax returns become public. The rich folks hire folks to hide important stuff in shell companies and overseas accounts. Last time I read anything, he had multitudes of shell companies….

  20. The flaw in the thinking of many of you is that we need to change the minds of Trump’s base. We cannot do that. They are his base.

    But there were many Trump voters who saw him as the lesser of two evils. Such people have (had?) flawed thinking/reasoning, but they aren’t so deluded as to see Donald as worthy. They just couldn’t abide “that woman.”

    So two things: if Trump ends up looking even worse, and if the Democratic party can keep from killing itself in the primaries … we may have a chance.

  21. Gerald; speaking of “minority” regarding the Gore-Bush election…there were states other than Florida with a close count but Florida was the only one to do a recount…with George W’s baby brother Jeb as governor of Florida at the time. Questionable? Yes! I lived in Florida at the time and, being a Gore voter, carefully watched all newscasts and read newspapers to see Gore leading but much purging of votes done by the Republicans in control of the recount. The biggest loss was probably that closet full of boxes of Absentee Ballots which came in before the actual election but the recount committee decided they didn’t arrive in time…they were found before the recount was completed…exactly what time-schedule did they make that decision on?

Comments are closed.