February 26, 2016

"Donald Trump Can't Release His Taxes While Being Audited?"

NPR does a fact check. That is, they talk to a NYU tax-lawprof:
"He can obviously release them if he wants to," said Daniel Shaviro... But Shaviro conceded, as other tax experts have, that Trump's lawyers may advise him not to release the returns for legal strategy purposes. "I can imagine either my lawyer or my PR adviser saying 'don't' until the audit is over."
What of the strange claim that the IRS may be auditing Trump every year because he's a Christian?
"But the one problem I have is that I’m always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair. I don’t know, maybe because of religion, maybe because I’m doing something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently.... Well maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it. And maybe there’s a bias.... You see what’s happened. I mean, you have many religious groups have been complaining about that. They’ve been complaining about it for a long time."
I can imagine the IRS targeting him... but because he's "a strong Christian"? I assume he has a reason for saying that, perhaps to draw in Christians who worry that the government is persecuting them. He's just wafting a suspicion, so, no proof needed, right? But this casual stirring of paranoia feels off. Is there something Christian in the tax returns that we'll eventually see? Is he tempting us down a rat hole?

ADDED: Who says "a strong Christian"? It's like Mitt Romney calling himself "severely conservative."

Or is it? I see the similarity, but Meade is seeing a difference. The difference might be something like: Romney's use of the odd phrase — which seems as though it should have been "strict conservative" — made us suspect that he didn't normally talk about himself that way, didn't have the common expression handy, and thus that he wasn't really conservative. Trump may simply be using his go-to adjective "strong" with the relevant noun "Christian," and inventing his own novel phrase. That is, he wasn't even trying to get to a stock phrase like "devout Christian."

BUT: Googling "strong Christian," I can see reason to think it is something of a standard phrase. I'm finding a classic sermon called "Strong Christians" that begins with the text from Ephesians, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord" and continues:
A weak and cowardly soldier is a pitiful object, but a weak-kneed, cowardly Christian is still more so. S. Paul told the Ephesian Christians to be strong in the Lord, and in these days especially we need strong Christians, strong Churchmen. I do not mean that we want men to presume on their strength, to repeat the sin of the Pharisee of old, and talk of their righteousness, or condemn their neighbours. I do not mean that we must be noisy and violent, and quarrelsome in our religion. None of these things are a proof of strength. A giant of power is ever the gentlest, having the hand of steel in the glove of silk. So the stronger a Christian is the more humbly he bears himself. A writer of the day says very truly, "if the world wants iron dukes, and iron men, God wants iron saints."
Read the whole thing!

115 comments:

David Begley said...

More spin from the con artist.

Jack Wayne said...

Everything he says is a rat hole so how can anyone be tempted?

Meade said...

"Is he tempting us down a rat hole?"

Ha ha. Of course he is. But it will be a BEAUTiful rat hole. A HUGE beautiful rat hole.

paminwi said...

That's a complete & total bullshit answer. Trumpkins won't care he's lying.

rehajm said...

Everyone stop acting stupid. Prudence mandates not releasing information to the public. Trumps return likely has 1,000+ K1s, overseas entities (OMG! a Swiss account!) and IRS agents aren't always the brightest bulbs. I'd wager good money his return is well prepared, but why have millions of eyes find something they can pin on you?

Original Mike said...

"What of the strange claim that the IRS may be auditing Trump every year because he's a Christian?" ..."I assume he has a reason for saying that, perhaps to draw in Christians who worry that the government is persecuting them."

Occam says he's just strange.

Michael K said...

I was audited every year in the 70s until my accountant told the IRS that this was harassment. They then did not audit me for years,

John said...

I was surprised last night when he said he had been audited every year for 12 years. I was under the impression that there was a limit to how often the IRS could audit a person or company. 3 years out of 10, maybe?

Anyone know?

I suspect that, as all citizens should, he feels a responsibility to skate right up to the edge when he figures out how much tax he owes each year. I also suspect that his complicated businesses make it difficult to know where the edge is.

I also think that it would be incredibly stupid to release his taxes while in the midst of an audit no matter what the law is.

Let him release them in September like mittens did.

Unless it turns out that he has committed some felonies wrt the IRS and taxes, I really don't give a shit if he only paid $97.50 in total taxes last year. More power to him if he did.

We have a duty as citizens to pay all taxes we owe. We also have a duty as citizens not to pay one sent more than we legally owe. That includes arranging our financial lives to minimize the amount we owe.

John Henry

tim in vermont said...

Trump just throws shit against the wall to see what sticks.

Meade said...

I've known a lot of self-identifying Christians in my 60 odd years. I've never known one to add a single adjective in front of "Christian".

tim in vermont said...

I would still vote for him over Hillary with zero qualms.

John said...

I said let him release them in September.

Thinking on that, I am wrong. He needs to be a natural born citizen, 14 years resident in the US and 35 years of age.

Those are the ONLY qualifications he needs. I think he would be fully justified in telling everyone who wants to see his tax returns to go piss up a rope.

See if that costs him any votes. I suspect that it might even gain him some.

John Henry

rehajm said...

And before anybody finds his claim he's been audited 12 years running dubious, anyone with AGI over $1M is automatically subject to a 'desk audit'. They look first and subject you to the rubber glove should they find anything questionable. I suspect they don't find much on the Trump return.

tim in vermont said...

. I've never known one to add a single adjective in front of "Christian".

Yeah, he is having a hard time faking authenticity on this one. Not that I care.

Chuck said...

Professor Althouse, I don't understand why you parse these things for hidden meanings and clever inner strategies.

Trump doesn't want to release his tax returns. He wants to delay. The guy has -- as shown by his litigation history -- a pathological attachment to his self-proclaimed net worth. Which no serious financial analyst accepts.

Trump was just lying, and stumbling his way through a dumb and very awkward interview.

Why do you feel the need to read more in to it than that?

John said...

Blogger Meade said...

I've known a lot of self-identifying Christians in my 60 odd years. I've never known one to add a single adjective in front of "Christian".


what about "Born Again"? I find that pretty common. Or "Bible believing" Less common but I run across it from time to time. We used to have an independent church in front of my house that described itself on the signboard as being "A Bible Believing Christian Church." they didn't seem to feel that any further explanation of their viewpoint was required.

John Henry

Meade said...

"Occam says he's just strange."

Ha! That explains it. It was a malapropism. It came out "strong Christian" when what Trump was actually thinking was "I'm a strange Christian."

rehajm said...

John said...
I was surprised last night when he said he had been audited every year for 12 years. I was under the impression that there was a limit to how often the IRS could audit a person or company. 3 years out of 10, maybe?

Anyone know?


Yah John, in a field audit they can go back 7, but see above.

tim in vermont said...

Trump was just lying, and stumbling his way through a dumb and very awkward interview

I would rather have this liar than the other liar. Trump is faking it until he makes it.

Kansas City said...

Fair chance he is lying about the audit. Opponents should challenge him to prove he has been audited 12 years in a row and has always come out with no problem.

The three arguments that will beat him are: (1) fraudulent Trump university; (2) lifetime of taking advantage of the little guy; and (3) history of highly sexist remarks mostly on Howard Stern show, e.g., three years after Princess Diana died Trump was going on about how he wished he could have had sex with her before she died.

Chuck said...

tim in vermont said...

...

I would rather have this liar than the other liar. Trump is faking it until he makes it.


Who are you talking about? Tell me which Republican front-runner you think has a bigger problem with lying, than Trump. Then, for every "lie" you can cite, I'll supply ten Trump howlers.

Meade said...

@John Henry, no, and I've lived all through what used to be called the Bible Belt. The self-identification has always been simply "Christian" even if the person is born-again, evangelical, charismatic, etc.

Chuck said...

"Trump is faking it..."
You did get that part right.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why do you feel the need to read more in to it than that?"

He's acting as though everyone already understands that if you're undergoing an audit, you can't release your returns. I saw him questioned pointedly about it, and he just repeated the idea that you can't. I didn't understand why you can't. That's why I was drawn to this NPR piece.

tim in vermont said...

I was talking about Hillary, the other liar.

And if Trump can trounce his Republicans rivals by pulling in those voters in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Democrats are afraid he could do the same to them nationwide in November.
"It’d be like the canary in the coal mine," said Doug Rubin, a Democratic strategist who helped steer Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren to statewide victories in Massachusetts. "If Trump is able to convince a lot of moderate-to-conservative independents to vote in the primary and he does really well here, that would be a warning sign for Democrats going forward."


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/donald-trump-massachusetts-219804#ixzz41KgJrh4q


Tee hee. Mass did do their best to veto Obamacare by voting in Scott Brown.

rehajm said...

"You're in the midst of negotiating and talking to the IRS ... Your lawyers would never allow you to do that," Trump told CNN after the debate.

Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

Chuck said...

You know, Meade, this is much ado about nothing. (Nothing, that is, apart from Trump's reckless stupidity and arrogance that kicked it all off.)

Just page through a list of Trump quotes using the word "strong." He says it all the time. Rubio had a good point; you look at a transcript of Trump, it looks like gibberish. Phrases repeated two and three times. And "strong"; again and again. "Strong" military. "Strong" police. "Strong" border control. He's "strong" in the Ohio polls. "Strong" with Latinos. A "strong" record with union workers.

This isn't so hard, and it isn't even all that interesting.

Except now, a hundred DNC oppo-reserachers are going to work on the Trump tax story. And if NPR could deconstruct it in a morning, we ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Ann Althouse said...

Also, I think Trump is using various statements — especially the striking ones — to have an effect on us. Some of the stuff is inflated versions of beliefs he may have or policies he may support and some of it is just lying (I think). You have to wonder why he says some of these things. He's been so effectively, amazingly outplaying everyone else, even as he tosses out things the professionals think are absolutely career-destroying. Of course, I want to understand what he thinks he's doing! There's a game being played here, played very successfully. I can't think of any more important subject for inquiry right now.

AprilApple said...

The audit excuse is 100% pure nonsense and bullshit.

Meade said...

"I can't think of any more important subject for inquiry right now."

Here, inquire into this.

tim in vermont said...

Also, I think Trump is using various statements — especially the striking ones — to have an effect on us. Some of the stuff is inflated versions of beliefs he may have or policies he may support and some of it is just lying (I think). You have to wonder why he says some of these things. He's been so effectively, amazingly outplaying everyone else,

We have seen this before:
- "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."
-"It won't add one dime to the deficit."
-"There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."
Lying works.

Chuck said...

Althouse this is the point we were at last night, when us nightowls were still lounging in your blog space after the big debate.

Within seconds of Trump spouting off about his tax returns, I posted something along the lines of "OMFG; Trump just claimed he's being audited because he's a Christian..."

I don't even think that the "strong Christian" phrase is the most interesting thing. It's the fact that a plainly fake Christian, who isn't recognized as a regular member at his professed church, is claiming some sort of Christian persecution.

walter said...

He is the biglyest Christian.

M Jordan said...

The "strong Christian" bit had several prongs. First, it was a nod to Christians -- who are coming on board fast for Trump -- that he's one of them. Gratuitous? Very. But it doesn't hurt. Second, it's a shot across the bow at the IRS, who Trump is telling, Look out. Your days of picking on conservatives is over. Third, it follows that this is a way to signal to Tea Partiers that he's with them. And fourth, it was done with classic Trump irony. He knows they have been auditing him for his faith. But he likes sticking it in their craw.

traditionalguy said...

Cynicism is strong on anything Trump claims he does. Is that because he lies all day long like Cruz likes to show off doing?

Suppose he is a man that takes pride in telling the truth. Nobody faint. There are men like that.

It goes back to Trump's Calvinist Reform Christianity. It makes men into Strong Christians with an assurance in Providence. They can seem difficult troublemakers to compromise life because of a confidence that does not like compromise or going along with the group. They do not

surrender very often. Oliver Cromwell was a perfect example of that kind of difficult man. But they are winners. Ask Charles I , the Stuart King that took his role as King too seriously.

So let's use Trump for 8 tears and then we can all tell about how bad he was, like The English still say about Cromwell for winning too much.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter said...

"it was done with classic Trump irony. He knows they have been auditing him for his faith."

Wow..it's getting deep now..

tim in vermont said...

I assumed that was a typo.

Chuck said...

M Jordan:

You've got it wrong on just about every dimension.

First, Trump is such a laughably bad "Christian" to claim that he's being persecuted. His own church doesn't recognize him as a regular member. It's a big joke. An ugly joke, in a world where there really is some anti-Christian mass murder going on.

Second, Trump is perhaps the worst Republican there is, to gripe about the recent IRS/anti-conservative jihad. Trump is the one and only guy in Republicanland who actually sides with Sanders and Clinton on campaign finance reform. Trump, the guy who wants to appoint perhaps two or three Supreme Court justices, has real doubts about Citizens United!

This is Trump at his most reckless. I am going to join the chorus demanding that he release those returns. You got an answer for the nation on that?

traditionalguy said...

Trump has two big beliefs he lives by Private property and the Providence off God. You cannot defeat that unless you kill him and his family.

Ergo : Trump operates as a

strong Conservative Christian; and he is NOT a fence sitter agnostic or an anti-Christ Mohammedans like Obama's and Bush Ii's strategy for welcoming in wealthy sheiks from Middle East Oil States ss their personal allies.

The Tea Party was suddenly the IRS enemy du jour because they were strong Christians demanding a lawful government. Why was that? It is the same answer as why Trump is audited.

CatherineM said...

So release the last 2 years.

If he really has the IRS auditing him for 12 years because of his faith, how come he hasn't complained until now?

Craig Landon said...

"Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter"

Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47)

Saint Croix said...

The most dangerous and stupid comment that Trump made in the debate was that he "wouldn't mind a trade war." He's an idiot. That's like a general saying he wouldn't mind a shooting war. All war is bad, moron. That's why people try to avoid them!

Yes, China is an untrustworthy country, and yes, they are competing with us, and yes, they hold a lot of our treasury bonds. It's important to negotiate carefully and honestly. It's also important to realize that trade can help both countries. That's why Republicans love free trade, and freedom in general.

Approaching every transaction with the attitude of screwing the other guy can result in net negatives for everyone concerned. One idiot in the White House can spark a global financial meltdown. I realize the left is filled with bad economics, but do I really have to explain to people on the right why a trade war with China is an idiotic idea, and the Worst Campaign Promise Ever?

Sebastian said...

"But this casual stirring of paranoia feels off" Funny.

"I want to understand what he thinks he's doing!" Also funny. Let's all think really, really hard: what does he think he's doing?

walter said...

Altparse commented:
"He's been so effectively, amazingly outplaying everyone else, even as he tosses out things the professionals think are absolutely career-destroying"

So..is it Trump or the populace? When he denigrates opponents in kindergarten block letters..is it him or "us"?
The more I hear out of his pie hole, the less I believe regarding his "strategery".
And if it is so, what the __ are we dealing with?
I have heard folks like Sir Savage cozy up to his current positions while blowing past previous positions. Tonight Savage was all but fellating Trump, completely ignoring Trump's larger "yuuge" inconsistencies.

Saint Croix said...

The main reason to look at Trump's taxes is to see what sort of financial mess he has made of his own life. The fact that he's been audited for a dozen years--and declared bankruptcy four times--only increases the concern that this man is not a trustworthy steward of our economy.

rehajm said...

Saint Croix said...

I realize the left is filled with bad economics...


You 'aint kiddin'. A small war has broken out over how bad they've become.

Sebastian said...

@SC: "The most dangerous and stupid comment that Trump made in the debate was that he "wouldn't mind a trade war."" Yeah, but it will sure teach the GOPe a lesson, and isn't that what its all about?

n.n said...

There is recent precedent for IRS harassment of Americans, conservative and Christian. The next president should audit the Treasury and its IRS collector.

walter said...

The next president could eliminate the IRS..in theory.

traditionalguy said...

If the demand is for speculation about strategy, then one good reason for Trump's CPAs and Tax Attorneys not copying and dumping some 10,000 pages of schedules of deductions and line item income from three hundred entities over 10 years, one answer is that it's nobody's business but the Trump Family that runs the Business Empire.

Romney never did it. He only gave out condensed summaries in late September. And all that was ever used for was creative oppo research slander attacks by dishonest media owned by the Dems. Sarah Palin had to go through the Righteously demanded massive e-mail release only because she was Governor.

I hope Trump never gives in to the assholes, if just to keep his CPAs and Lawyers respect..

Chuck said...

n.n said...
There is recent precedent for IRS harassment of Americans, conservative and Christian. The next president should audit the Treasury and its IRS collector.


Now wait just a minute; there is certainly recent evidence of IRS harassment of conservatives in the realm of 501(c) corporations and campaign finance/expenditures. I agree with anyone who thinks we need a lot more exposure of that problem. It needs to be taken seriously.

But what precedent is there for harassing "Christians"? One of the great tax scams in recent history is the use of inner city black churches as SuperPACs, all the while enjoying 501(c)(3) protections. They sure aren't being harassed, even while they abuse their religious status.

Do you have any notable examples of IRS religious persecution? Does Trump? I say Trump is just making it all up on the fly.

walter said...

Trad guy,
What is the take on Trump U. in the hive?

traditionalguy said...

The IRS position is that no political activity should be allowed by 501 (c) (3)s.

They are right of course. But suddenly after 50 yers of benign neglect, only the President's enemies (I.e., Conservative Christians) applications are being selectively enforced by serial investigations made only to create many years of delays. The IRS must have borrowed some VA Bureaucrats who knew how it's done. Waiting them out one run around after another run around. After all they are the enemies of Obama and his Muslim friends.

Brando said...

Give no weight to the "because I'm Christian" nonsense--to think about that at all is a waste of time as like much of what spews from his unrestrained mouth it is horseshit.

The crap about not releasing his returns because of an ongoing audit? Also crap. Best guess as to why he doesn't want to release the returns? Not because of illegality (I doubt he has knowingly cheated on his taxes) or embarrassingly low tax rate (a low tax rate would be a badge of honor and help his cause) but rather the obvious reason--the returns reveal he makes far less than he brags.

gadfly said...

Trump won South Carolina on the support of Evangelical Christians who were so impressed with his alleged straight talk that they overlooked the fact that he’s a crass, cruel, unrepentant philanderer who says he does not need God’s forgiveness, and who praises Planned Parenthood as ‘wonderful’ and his radically pro-abortion sister as a ‘phenomenal’ candidate for the Supreme Court. That’s how much you pretend to admire bluntness in a man. So much that it overrides literally everything else.
~ Matt Walsh

Chuck said...

No, traditionalguy, I don't think you've got much to back up your claim.

Again, you don't need to convince me of the magnitude of the Lois Lerner/501(c)(4) scandal. But that scandal involved all sorts of conservative groups. There wasn't any religious angle to it. They weren't picking on Christians. They were picking on conservatives. The IRS probably did leak the donor list for the National Organization for Marriage, and the group may have been audited, but of course Trump had nothing to do with that. As for the 501(c)(4) qualifications, the IRS -- by all accounts -- was (wrongfully) targeting "Tea Party" and "Patriot" names and references.

And since I take the real IRS scandal so seriously, I take offense at Trump's trivializing it with a bogus 'Christian persecution' claim.

JVMICHAELS said...

I'm surprised by how few of the the commenters here are Christians living in the South, or Texas, where I'm from. "Strong Christian" is used ALL the time. E.g. "I'd like my son to marry a strong Christian woman."

Brando said...

Serious question--on what rationale would a tax lawyer tell a client to not make his preliminary tax returns public because they are subject to an audit? If it is understood that those are the same returns that the IRS is auditing, and could be adjusted due to the audit, what is the legal risk of the public knowing what is in the returns? Does the IRS penalize you for making those returns public?

walter said...

JV,
It's only relevant in the context of Trump..the shape-shifter...as if anyone before the election campaign made the slightest association between Trump and Christianity.

Fabi said...

The desperation from the anti-Trumpers is delightful. I'm confident in my non-Trump candidate. I have no need to wade into a bunch of pointless mud holes. I sleep well, too.

Otto said...

Well done young lady ( you are a baby compared to my age). I use that website as my main source when trying to get fuller understanding of the Bible. It is a wealth of information. For each verse in the bible all Bible versions are listed,commentaries are given, a map is shown, cross references are given and much more. The term strong referenced in this thread is from Ephesians 6:10. The KJV is "Finally my brethren be strong in the in the Lord, and in the power of his might." This is an intro into the famous 'the full armor of God" passage.Basically it says know your Bible well and be grounded in firm Christian Doctrine in order to face the evils of the world and be prepared to give a defense of your faith. Better yet go to the website, punch in Ephesians 6:10 in the search bar, hit enter and away you go.
As for Donald's answer, that has no connection to word strong in the Bible.

Saint Croix said...

Does the IRS penalize you for making those returns public?

No

Saint Croix said...

Good article in CNN about how Donald Trump "sounds more like Bernie Sanders."

Please tell us, oh right-wing stalwarts, how NAFTA is bad, how free trade is bad, how we are going to tax, tax, tax our way to prosperity. Please explain to me why you are cheering a trade war with China and Japan.

Are you familiar with the dumb ass Republican known as Senator Smoot, or that other idiot Republican, Mr. Hawley? The Smoot-Hawley Tarriff Act of 1930 was the idiotic response to the stock market crash of 1929. We raised taxes on 20,000 imported goods. Oh, what a brilliant worldwide depression that was!

Let's protect our economy by having a trade war with all the other economies! Vote for Trump, he'll destroy China. Yay!

walter said...

so is it not a trade war if you pull a Jesus and turn the other (tariff) cheek?

Saint Croix said...

I was taught in school that the stock market crash led to the Great Depression. Wrong!

Unemployment was at 8% in 1930

And then the Smoot–Hawley tariff was passed...

The rate jumped to 16% in 1931, and 25% in 1932-33.

Saint Croix said...

Here is Donald Trump vs. Milton Friedman.

Bizarre how Trump sees trade as a fight, a war, instead of a productive and helpful business that helps both sides.

walter said...

FWIW, you know there are lag times in economics, right?

Saint Croix said...

FWIW, you know there are lag times in economics, right?

Sure. And I don't mean to suggest that Smoot-Hawley was the sole cause of the Great Depression. Milton Friedman puts the onus on the federal reserve. The supply of money dropped by a third, and one third of the banks shut their doors. The federal reserve could have solved that problem. But they failed.

Here's more MIlton Friedman. I love him!

Saint Croix said...

More Friedman, this time on illegal immigration. And here's part II

Provocative, fascinating, so interesting!

chickelit said...

@Saint Croix: How utterly disingenuous of you to post a link purporting to be a "debate" between Donald Trump and the late Milton Friedman. Shame on on you, sir.

Did you ever meet Milton Friedman? Have you ever been in the same room as Milton Friedman?

chickelit said...

@Saint Croix: You used to be a voice of reason regarding your personal hobby horse...abortion...I almost bought your book. You are fast approaching becoming a farce.

chickelit said...

You are fast approaching becoming a farce.

I meant, farce of reason.

chickelit said...

@Saint Croix: A word to the wise: To neutralize a caustic administration like Obama's, you don't apply neutrality to the milieu because that only dilutes the problem...you apply the caustic alternative (it's like an acid/base reaction).

Your job is not to say no but to say when too much is enough.

cubanbob said...

Saint Croix said...

The main reason to look at Trump's taxes is to see what sort of financial mess he has made of his own life. The fact that he's been audited for a dozen years--and declared bankruptcy four times--only increases the concern that this man is not a trustworthy steward of our economy.
2/26/16, 9:28 PM

Not to defend Trump but at the level of income he has the IRS always audits. As for releasing tax returns I would like to see the Clinton and Clinton family tax returns.

Shanu Baba said...

thanks for sharing

firmwares

FleetUSA said...

As a retired tax officer for a major company, I would hope the IRS annually audits all billionaire returns.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

"history of highly sexist remarks mostly on Howard Stern show, e.g., three years after Princess Diana died Trump was going on about how he wished he could have had sex with her before she died."

I was unaware of that. As I recall, when "The Apprentice" first aired one of the judges was an attractive, petite blond that worked for Trump managing golf courses or something. On the show Trump mentioned that he thought she looked like Princess Di, which caused her to blush.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Please tell us, oh right-wing stalwarts, how NAFTA is bad, how free trade is bad,

The argument against free trade is the same as it as always been, cheap imports cause domestic industries to close down, costing people their jobs. As for NAFTA, the argument was, at the time it was enacted, was that factories would move to Mexico to take advantage of the cheap labor.

Considering that is exactly what happened, its not surprising that the people who are adversely effected (including a lot of working class Democrats who are crossing over to Trump, not just "right-wingers") might just want to reconsider the status quo.

Mac McConnell said...

Trump gets audited by the IRS because of the nature of his business interest and the fact that the super rich get audited often. The IRS audits the wealthy because that is where the money is. Few people with W-2 incomes ever get audited.

Interestly, till this summer no one including the IRS knew Trump was christian. Christ, the Presbyterians didn't know he was Presbyterian.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Christ, the Presbyterians didn't know he was Presbyterian.

Shouldn't that be "Christ didn't know he was a Presbyterian."

Brando said...

Saint Croix--thanks for the link. I sort of understand the point that if he releases his returns, media scrutiny on some part of the return could cause the IRS to focus on that part as well, making the audit more troublesome for him. But then, that'd be the case at any time he releases, affecting the next audit. If you want to run for president, you risk that sort of scrutiny in anything you do. It's par for the course, and if Trump really did everything legally (and I assume the highly paid pros who handle his books did) he should welcome that transparency. In fact, both parties should require releases of tax returns, medical exams, etc before anyone can appear on a presidential ballot just to clear the air of nasty surprises.

Not surprised Trump is less than transparent, though--he is probably most afraid word will get out he is worth a lot less than the $10 billion he claims. He might be worth less than one billion, and if that became public suddenly he is alpha dog no more, but an obvious film flam man.

stlcdr said...

Both of the issues, here, have been brought up in political sparring. At this point, it's simply throwing dead carcasses at the side of the road for the vultures to feast.

Mac McConnell said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
"Please tell us, oh right-wing stalwarts, how NAFTA is bad, how free trade is bad,"

Why should right-wingers explain? President Clinton presented it to the Democrat controlled Senate and it was ratified in a bipartisan vote. Clinton signed it.

From a World economic perspective, in a world with limited resources free trade is always generally good.










robinintn said...

"But this casual stirring of paranoia feels off." Right, because it's just a rogue department out of Cincinnati. Not a smidgen of corruption!

Ron Winkleheimer said...

@Mac McConnell

Actually, I quoted someone else who asked that. I gave the case that free trade is not always an unalloyed good to all people.

Obviously free trade has benefits, if someone didn't benefit from it, it wouldn't exist.

The question is if the benefits exceed the negative consequences to domestic industry.

The typical answer to that by globalists is explaining "comparative advantage" a less than satisfactory answer to people in small Southern towns where factories have been closing for 20+ years, no new industry has moved in, and many of the community's' youth, not able to get jobs in the currently booming old age rest homes market, are turning to drugs and crime.

Saint Croix said...

Did you ever meet Milton Friedman? Have you ever been in the same room as Milton Friedman?

Nope. I love him from afar!

Saint Croix said...

Chick, you don't think Trump is a free trade guy, do you? Why is that link shameful, you lost me. You think Friedman would applaud Trump?

John Henry said...

Not to pick on anyone in particular here but doesn't anyone understand the difference between wealth and income?

They often go together but not necessarily. In wisconsin you have multimillionaire farmers who earn $60,000 per year.

Warren Buffett is worth something like $60-70 billion but has an income of only about $30 million per year. (It used to be considerably less) About 0.05% of his wealth.

Has Trump ever bragged about his income? I don't recall him making much of a point of it if he has.

What he does brag about is his wealth, $10bn. He filed a 90 page financial disclosure. The press and his opponents have had 8 months to be going through it finding anything false. Have they? Some of it might be differences of opinion: "This golf course is only worth $90mm, not $100" for example. There don't seem to be any material disagreements with the financial statements.

As Trump said, his tax returns will not tell anyone anything about his wealth. They are not supposed to they are income tax returns.

If someone wanted to know about his wealth, they could look at property tax records. They could look at mortgage liens. They could look at building ownership. Lots of things they could do.

Looking at tax returns will tell nobody anything about Trump's wealth.

It's just a smoke screen thrown up by losers. Is Rubio going to disclose his wealth? Cruz? Kasich? They already have in their FEC filings. Just like Trump. I don't recall anyone here talking about these.

Amazing how many otherwise intelligent Althousians fall for it.

John Henry

American Liberal Elite said...

Trump would claim to b a strong Pastafarian if he though it would confer some electoral advantage.

Tank said...

Please tell us, oh right-wing stalwarts, how NAFTA is bad, how free trade is bad,

Whatever you think of free trade, any agreement as long as NAFTA is not free trade.

Tank said...

If I were Trump's CPA or Tax Lawyer, I would advise him not to release his tax returns and to blame me for giving him that advice. If I were called to explain my position, I would say it was confidential.

Why do people call for tax returns?

To find ammunition to shoot you with.

John Henry said...

small Southern towns where factories have been closing for 20+ years, no new industry has moved in, and many of the community's' youth, not able to get jobs in the currently booming old age rest homes market, are turning to drugs and crime.

A bit off topic but perhaps it would be good to recall why the south had those jobs in the first place.

In the 19th century the northern US was a powerhouse of textile manufacturing. Maine manufactured some large percentage of all the shoes made in the world.

Then, because of high northern costs and relatively low southern costs, it all moved south.

Now, for the same reason, it is moving again. To vietnam, Pakistan, Mexico or wherever.

Northern states were making the same arguments 100 years ago:

small NORTHERN towns where factories have been closing for 20+ years, no new industry has moved in, and many of the community's' youth, not able to get jobs in the currently booming old age rest homes market, are turning to drugs and crime.

John Henry

Saint Croix said...

Amazing to me when so-called republicans and libertarians vote to "tax the foreigners." It's bigotry against foreigners, I get that part. But do you really think taxes are going to solve the problem? And what problem are you trying to solve as you tax the imports that Americans buy?

It's war for the sake of war. War for the sake of mindless hostility and anger. "I don't mind a trade war." I wonder if any of the people who were not born with $200 million dollars in the bank will mind a trade war.

John Henry said...

Blogger Tank said...

Whatever you think of free trade, any agreement as long as NAFTA is not free trade.

Amen, tank. You nailed it though it doesn't have to be as long as NAFTA. It could be a paragraph or two.

Why do we need any free trade agreements? All we need to do is say to every other country "Your goods are welcome here provided they comply with US law." Food safety, for example.

You want to keep our goods out of your country? Good for you, no skin off our noses. You can choke on your unspent dollars.

For those in Rio Linda, the only place in the world anyone can spend US dollars is the US, buying US goods, services, investments or loaning to US government.

John Henry

Rusty said...

Blogger FleetUSA said...
As a retired tax officer for a major company, I would hope the IRS annually audits all billionaire returns

Why? Did they take something that belongs to you?

John Henry said...

Speaking of trade deficits:

By the way, I don't dislike China. You know, Businessweek did an article about the thing the Chinese most want... the thing they most want — you know what one of the top ten things: anything Trump. You believe it? My apartments, my ties. They love me. They love me. I've got the largest bank in the world from China, Chinese bank, the largest in the world, biggest bank in China is my tenant, in one of my buildings. And they said, "We'll never leave, we love you, we love the building." Because they're smart, and they'll respect you if you're smart. They don't respect stupid people.

-Donald Trump

the reason we have a so-called trade deficit is encapsulated in that paragraph.

We buy a Chinese made microwave? Counts against the deficit. The Chinese buy a Trump apartment or rent office space in NYC? Doesn't count against the deficit.

The very idea of a trade deficit is bullshit.

John Henry

Saint Croix said...

Looking at tax returns will tell nobody anything about Trump's wealth.

That's his story. Weird that he is so desperate to hide his returns!

Wouldn't it be funny if Trad Guy made more money than Trump last year?

I think that's what he's primarily afraid of -- ridicule. The billionaire is claiming a $20,000 income. The billionaire is claiming no income. The billionaire is claiming losses, year after year after year, and he is audited, year after year after year.

Rusty said...

And then, john Henry, there is the cost of regulation abnd taxes that make overseas manufacturing attractive

The left love to cry,"why are all these jobs going overseas?"

The only reply is, "You sent them there."

Tank said...

Saint Croix proves Tank's point.

Chuck said...

The New York Times, on those disclosures. And actually, Trump didn't claim less than $20,000 in income. (Income was $66 million.) But his salary from the Trump Organization was $14,222. He had personal debts of $265 million, a price of $250,000 per speech (see, Clinton, H.) and a Screen Actors Guild pension of $110,000.

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/07/22/f-e-c-releases-donald-trumps-financial-disclosure-statement/

John said...

Saint Croix is exhibit 1 about how so many people can't tell the difference between wealth and income.

So Trump made on $20m last year? Or lost money. What does that have to do with his wealth?

Yes, that would show up on his income tax returns.

Saint Croix, what would you expect to learn about Trump's wealth from his income tax returns?

John Henry

John said...

For the people in Rio Linda $20m = $20,000

Old habits die hard

John Henry

John said...

But his salary from the Trump Organization was $14,222.

I think Buffett's salary as head of Berkshire Hathaway is something like $125,000/yr

John said...

Rusty,

Of course. We did drive them there. We have a pathetic ignorance of how business works.

All the howling about Burger King moving out of the US for example.

What I am still trying to figure out is why a Brazilian company (BK) should ever have to pay US taxes on income in Japan. They should and do pay US taxes on income in the US.

It's a real puzzler.

John Henry

Ron Winkleheimer said...

@John Henry

In the 19th century the northern US was a powerhouse of textile manufacturing. Maine manufactured some large percentage of all the shoes made in the world.

Then, because of high northern costs and relatively low southern costs, it all moved south.

Now, for the same reason, it is moving again. To vietnam, Pakistan, Mexico or wherever.


That is, of course, true. But the 19th century is a long time ago and people are worrying about jobs right now. Telling them "well guess you guys are losers, please go over to that field and die why we winners pop the champagne and eat some caviar" is not a winning political strategy.

Also, note that Vietnam, Pakistan, Mexico, wherever are foreign nations.

NAFTA and free trade was sold on the premise that sure a lot of jobs are going overseas, but they are going to be replaced by better, higher paying jobs. That just hasn't happened. Sure, you can argue that automation is a big part of that, and it would be true. But when people are out of work and have lost hope of finding any, and they are often reviled by much of the ruling elite who, so far as they can see, owe their position and success to connections, you are eventually going to end up living in interesting times.

As I'm sure most of the commenters here know, the word sabotage is derived from the French word sabot, wooden shoes that were being thrown into powered mechanical looms by people whose livelihood was derived from making cloth at home. Obviously, from our viewpoint at this late date, they had no hope of stopping what we call progress (cloth got much cheaper so less of the household budget had to go for clothing, a trend that has continued to this day. Ever look at a picture of the crowd attending a sports event in the 30s and 40s and wonder why so many of the men are wearing suits, its not just because people dressed more formally then, in many cases a couple suits was all the clothing they owned.)

We live in a time when major social upheavals are taking place for a variety of factors.

It is not surprising that during such a time people being negatively effected are going to react. As a nation we are going to have to find a solution that isn't the equivalent of saying, "F**k em, their losers."

If you break the social contract with them, they are going to break it right back.

Bay Area Guy said...

I can summarize the audit of Trump's tax returns, if you like: he made a lot, he paid a lot.

Nobody cares about a Billionaire's tax returns, jeez. He probably paid a million bucks just to have Grant Thornton file them.

John Henry said...

Ron Winkleheimer said:

NAFTA and free trade was sold on the premise that sure a lot of jobs are going overseas, but they are going to be replaced by better, higher paying jobs. That just hasn't happened.

As I said earlier, NAFTA is not about free trade, NAFTA is about regulating trade. Perhaps a bit less than other treaties but regulation nonetheless

But to your point about the low paying jobs being replaced, they have been. Up to about 2006 we saw a pretty consistent upward trend line in job and employment growth. This even though jobs moving overseas has been a big problem, at least to politicians and other deep thinkers, since the early 80's. Ross Perot built an entire presidential candidacy around the idea in 1992.

But look at wages, many people want to say. Well, yeah, so what? Wages mean nothing except as part of total compensation. Look at total compensation, including paid time off, pensions, insurance and all the other non-wage income pretty much every worker receives. When you look at the total package, that has done OK, rising along with worker productivity. The only reason it should ever rise.

Also, rather than looking at hourly or weekly wage, look at them over a longer period. 5-10 years. A great hourly wage is not all that great if you are only earning it 22 months out of 24. Not to mention the stress and uncertainty of layoffs.

We've lost or had to prop up some legacy industries like GM et al but we have also gotten Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, VW and others. Look at working conditions in those plants vs the way working conditions, up through the 90s and beyond, used to be in the legacy plants.

We've lost manufacturing jobs but as you note, a large proportion of these have been lost to automation or would have been lost to automation anyway.

We need a govt that will let business create jobs.

In the words of John Galt: "Get out of the way!"

John Henry



those have largely been replaced in other sectors.

John Henry said...

We used to make a lot of socks in the US. There was a town in Alabama that made some large proportion of all the socks used in the US and exported many more. Lots of relatively small factories, lots of employees:

Skilled - Kept the spinning looms working
Semi-Skilled - Ran the looms
Unskilled - sewed the toes closed

About 15 years ago that entire industry moved to Honduras. The cost of weaving the sock was slightly higher there than in Alabama. The cost of labor to hand sew the toes was much lower, perhaps 10% of the Alabama cost. Toe sewing was something that could not be automated for reasons I am not clear on.

So overall quite a labor cost saving.

5-6 years ago someone figured out how to automate the toe sewing. Sock manufacturing is moving back to the US where it is now cheaper.

The skilled maintainer's jobs and the semi-skilled loom operator's jobs will come back. At least to some extent.

The unskilled toe sewer's jobs are never coming back.



John Henry

walter said...

John Henry said..You want to keep our goods out of your country? Good for you, no skin off our noses. You can choke on your unspent dollars.
--
Assuming they don't buy domestically manufactured goods.

John Henry said...

Walter,

Why would it matter if they buy domestic goods? All that does is changes the choking from the exporter, who received the dollars to domestic manufacturer.

It is still no skin off our nose.

The only place the dollars can be spent is in the US, buying US goods, services or investments such as T-Bills.

The dollars may make other stops along the way, such as the domestic manufacturer you mention. Doesn't change anything. Until they spend the dollars in the US, they have no more value than toilet paper.

Since they are probably electronic blips rather than paper bills, probably less.

The ONLY reason dollars have any value anywhere, including in the US, is because you can buy US stuff with them.

John Henry

chickelit said...

The ONLY reason dollars have any value anywhere, including in the US, is because you can buy US stuff with them.

And one of these things for sale is US debt with interest paid. The average person (and increasingly, US Congress member) cannot control that. Unvoiced objections those sales are "one of those reasons" driving Trump.

ken in tx said...

Donald trump is a Presbyterian in the same way that Silvio Berlusconi is a Roman Catholic. They were both baptised in their respective churches. I doubt that Trump even went through confirmation class. He does not seem to know much about Christianity. Ask him "What is the chief end of man?" It's the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. A real Presbyterian will know the answer.

Gabriel said...

I read the sermon and I thought it was pretty good but I was puzzled by one of the "inspiring" examples.

A family--widowed father, three children, and their nanny--were wrecked on a steamship in freezing weather. They had to stay in the woods all night. The nanny wrapped the children in her own clothes to keep them warmer, and by morning she was dead.

But two things bothered me. One of the children died, what of him? And what was the father doing this whole time?

It rather reminded me of how God allowed Satan to kill off all Job's children, and then God made it up to him later with Job having many more children.

I only have one. God can't replace him, not with ten, not with a thousand. My children are not fungible. If I had ten children, each of them would be irreplaceable. If I had ten children and one of them was in some kind of danger I assume that they and I would try to save him even if it got three or five of us killed. That's because we're people and not potatoes.

I guess when it comes to inspiring YMMV.

Rick said...

Romney's use of the odd phrase — which seems as though it should have been "strict conservative" — made us suspect that he didn't normally talk about himself that way, didn't have the common expression handy, and thus that he wasn't really conservative.

So it's much like saying Two Corinthians?