New York Times Piece on Trumps Economic Troubles is Old News!
By now everyone has read or at least heard of the New York Times’ story about how Donald Trump, then a real estate tycoon, lost a billion dollars in the early 1990s and was able to write off said losses so that he paid zero federal income taxes for about 10 years.
The media and other Trump enemies fell upon the story as a jackal would a freshly killed deer.
The reaction of Neera Tandem, the president of the Center for American Progress, was typical:
“I saw focus groups of Trump voters in 2016. They thought the fact he was a hugely successful businessman would make him a successful president. The fact he was a loser in business will hurt him. And that is why he’s kept his taxes secret.”
One problem exists about this theory.
Trump’s fiscal woes were heavily reported in the New York media at the time.
Indeed, Trump himself discussed them at length in his book “The Art of the Comeback.”
He talked about it again when he became the host of “The Apprentice.”
The then future president used his troubles and his efforts to climb his way out of them as a strength, not a weakness.
Indeed, a lot of Trump business ventures back during the eighties and nineties tended to be a swing for the fences.
Many of those business startups, like the airline, the premium steaks, and the bottled water, were losers.
But enough of Trump’s enterprises made money so that by 2016, when he sought new worlds to conquer in politics, that the real estate mogul and reality show star was indeed a billionaire and successful businessman.
The kerfuffle over Trump’s 25-year-old financial problems says more about the media than it does the president.
It seems that Trump’s numerous enemies who have TV shows and newspaper bylines hate him so much that they will clutch anything that they think might hurt him without doing a little fact checking.
The Times especially should have at least done some searches on Google before printing the story.
The talking heads on CNN and MSNBC simply took the Times story as gospel rather than checked it out.
The president himself took to his favorite mode of communication of Twitter and offered a further explanation.
“Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ ……
“….you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes….almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!”
Trump’s explanation probably does not impress his enemies in the media.
It plays into the narrative of a rich guy not paying his “fair share” of taxes, which drives the campaigns of just about every Democratic presidential candidate.
However, what Trump and other wheeler dealers in the real estate industry did was perfectly legal.
Everyone, whether it’s Trump or a construction worker on one of his buildings, seek to pay as few taxes as possible. Trump has access to an army of lawyers and accountants to help him do it on a grand scale.
The tax aspect of the story is not likely to have the effect on Trump’s popularity that the media thinks it will.
Most Americans, particularly Trump voters, hate and fear the IRS as they do ISIS. The tax agency has the power to destroy people’s lives at will, without much in the way of due process.
If the IRS claims you owe it money, you must prove you don’t.
People who see that Trump outfoxed the tax man are more likely than not to say, “Good for him! I knew there was a reason I liked him!”
Speaking of taxes, the New York Times got Trump’s tax information possibly by illegal means.
A person’s tax information is privileged and can only be released by a court order or by the person him or herself.
This is not the Pentagon Papers after all.
Perhaps this story will end up in court.