Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mr. Trump's Tax Posture -- What He Should Have Said

I came back from food shopping on Sunday to a smiling wife telling me that she had taped a segment of one of the TV Sunday news programs.  "This", she said, "is why I'm ready to vote for Donald Trump in the primary."

I cued up the DVR (yeah, "taped" is the generic term) and started watching as The Donald was interviewed.  Eventually, the topic of his wealth, his income and then his income taxes came up.  I believe that it was in the context of the Clintons declaring that they paid about 40% of their income in taxes.  Mr. Trump had, let's say, a different take on tax payment -- this is a direct quote:

"I fight like [place where Satan lives] to pay as little as possible."

Yes, that's right.  My best girl thought that was the greatest answer ever -- Donald J. Trump, just like every other American (OK, the 50% or so of us who actually pay taxes) and just like, whether they'd say it or not, the other candidates in the field, tries to pay as little in taxes as possible.  He regards it a successful tax season if he has paid as low a rate as the law allows.

In fact, I bet that when he cues up his DVR and looks at what he said, probably wishes he had said this:

"If Hillary Clinton and her husband are paying 40% of their income in taxes, then they should have fired their accountant years ago.  How can you trust her to hire Cabinet members, when she can't even find a decent CPA, doing their own household income, to get a better tax return for them?"

Somehow, I think he will find a way to say that pretty soon.  I'll have to tweet his people a link to this piece.

Now, my wife is not a particularly political being, don't you know.  So I think it is very interesting that she had one of those moments that candidates hope the audience has when they go on those interview shows -- not that they'll just survive, but actually say something that resonates with some voters.  Something that gets them at least to vote for them, and maybe to do a lawn sign or a bumper sticker -- or send a check.

Now, we won't be sending checks, at least not until I start getting paid for this column.  And I'm far from deciding on my own primary vote.  But I think the Donald got himself another vote Sunday, and we need to understand why that is.

"Why that is" is very simple, really.  The 50% of Americans who pay taxes pay them grudgingly and reluctantly.  If the Federal government is going to take 10% of my income and defend the USA and keep me and my family safe from foreign attack, I get it.  We need roads and bridges, and some parks.  We need the courts and a legislature.  Someone has to deliver the mail and coin money.  We are a generous and gentle people and choose to ensure the solvency of the elderly who can no longer work.  In other words, we need what the Constitution authorizes the Federal government to do.

That, friends, is fine.  We understand the need to pay for it.  Where it becomes a problem is when we add debt service, entitlements, Planned Parenthood, experiments with shrimp in cages, etc., and simultaneously fail to collect from tax cheats like Al Sharpton, even as he sits at dinners in the White House.

In other words, once we start getting far afield of the true role of the Federal government, and start telling people to pay 40% of their income back to the Government to cover it, it is logical that we as Americans start looking for ways to pay as little tax as possible.  Why?  Because we no longer trust the Government to respect the Constitution and to spend our tax dollars conservatively, constitutionally and wisely.  

I wrote some checks to the IRS this year that went into the mailbox a little wrinkled and tear-stained, much like the poor slob who signed them.  So I find the attitude of Donald Trump to be an honest reflection of the identical feeling my wife and I have toward taxation in the 2015 version of the USA.  And, correspondingly, I find the statement of Hillary Clinton that she paid 40% of her income in taxes to be a reflection of something else -- stupidity, perhaps, but certainly an inability to hire competent people in positions of importance around her, especially in regard to money.

I don't know if I'll be joining my best girl in voting for The Donald, if he is still in the race by the time of the Virginia primary.  But he has made me think.

And that is all a candidate wants to hear.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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