Democrats Seize on a Theme Over Trump Tax Returns

He paid less in taxes than his blue-collar supporters, according to report
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2020 6:46 AM CDT
Democrats Seize on a Theme Over Trump Tax Returns
President Trump gestures while speaking during a news conference at the White House, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – Democrats are moving quickly to try to take advantage of the bombshell report about President Trump's finances in the New York Times. The big takeaway is that while Trump as a billionaire might be expected to pay millions in taxes, he paid just $750 the year he became president (and the following year) because his businesses were doing so poorly, according to the story. In addition, it says he paid $0 in several years before becoming president. Trump is dismissing it as "totally fake news," but Democrats hope to capitalize by pointing out that he apparently pays less than many of his blue-collar supporters, writes Mike Allen of Axios.

  • AOC: A tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez illustrates: "In 2016 & ‘17, I paid thousands of dollars a year in taxes *as a bartender.* Trump paid $750." Chuck Schumer had a similar theme in a tweet asking people to raise their hands "if you paid more in federal income tax than President Trump."
  • Bumper stickers: Joe Biden's campaign is selling "I paid more income taxes than Trump" bumper stickers, per the Hill.

  • Effect on voters: Will any of this matter in the election? Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is in the it-depends camp. "No particular instinct for how much the Trump tax news will resonate with rank-and-file voters," he writes. "May depend on how much the Biden campaign chooses to emphasize it. There is a damaging headline for Trump (that he paid only $750) which is sometimes lacking in these sorts of stories."
  • Congress: Nancy Pelosi says the report shows Trump's "disdain for America's working families" and is further proof that Congress and the public need full access to Trump's returns. Rep. Richard Neal, chair of Ways and Means panel, says the report "shines a stark light on the vastly different experience people with power and influence have when interacting with the Internal Revenue Service than the average American taxpayer does," per the AP.
  • Bernie: "Yep. Trump l-o-v-e-s corporate socialism for himself, rugged capitalism for everyone else," writes Bernie Sanders, who took note of another aspect of the story: Trump reportedly received a $73 million tax refund from the IRS in 2010.
  • Defense: Alan Gerten, a Trump Organization lawyer, says the story is inaccurate, per the Washington Post. “Over the past decade the President has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government," he says. However, the original Times story says Gerten is presenting in inaccurate picture himself by jumbling up federal income taxes with other types of taxes such as Social Security and Medicare.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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