Rachael Maddow is not known for the cheap theatrics that typically come gratis with the hyperbolic sort of political commentator. But she joined her fellow pundits in the cesspool of click bait publicity with an overhyped release of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return.

Noise was made. But the promise of a bombshell was no more honest than the cover of a paperback potboiler. Maddow’s big reveal showed little to Trump’s discredit and did nothing to shed light on the details of his labyrinthian finances.

A principle knock on Trump is that he pays no taxes. Yet this tax return shows he paid $38 million on an income of $150 million. A 25% tax rate. Perhaps less than the top bracket – but hardly a Romney-like level of tax thrift. Indeed, compared to the massive tax write-offs highlighted in his 1995 return he is profligate in his remittances to the Treasury.

Although it should be noted that the Alternative Minimum Tax Law accounted for $33 million of his tax bill. And it is a law he is lobbying to have overturned.

Also – disabusing those who speculated on Trump’s impecunity – an income of $150 million is not chump change.

The news is good enough to make one wonder if the tax return wasn’t leaked by Trump himself. Certainly, the fact that ‘client copy’ was stamped on the document seems to signpost its origins.

Further, for a leak, it is weak beer. The red meat is in the schedules. Where did Trump’s income come from? What is he writing off? Which banks collected interest payments? And the like.

And why just 2005? That’s the rub. Unlike salarymen, who cannot shift income and loss from one year to another to manage their finances, the independent businessman can massage his money across a continuum of years to maximize his benefit.

For a realistic assessment of Trump’s state of play, a study of consecutive (say five) years’ tax returns would produce a fair picture.

Will we ever see such a thing? I doubt Trump will provide them voluntarily. Perhaps some congressional committee will subpoena them. Which will inevitably trigger countersuits by Trump. And then …. who knows?


The Republican War to Lessen the Rich Man’s Burden

May 7, 2016

“I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” Adlai E. Stevenson America is awash in cash. But the average American isn’t. The wealthy haven’t cornered the market in wealth so completely […]

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Republican False Advertising on Tax Rates.

May 5, 2015

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have” ― Socrates. Ben Carson announced his presidential run with an elegant little speech in hometown Detroit. He celebrated his lack of political experience as an advantage. Indeed, he is the rare candidate with a legitimate claim to being […]

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Colorado Legalized Recreational Pot – Some Got Stoned. The State Made Money. Everyone Else Hardly Noticed.

March 11, 2014

“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?” ― Bill Hicks Colorado has reported tax revenues and fees of $3.5 million off pot  (medical and recreational) sales in January alone. Simple arithmetic suggests that annual […]

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The Right’s Biggest Lie – “Taxes on the Rich Are Taxes on Job Creators”.

February 10, 2014

“We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt If you took a drink for every time you heard a right-winger, a so-called fiscal conservative, or Tea Party type say that raising taxes on the rich is an increase in taxes on the […]

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Did Steve Jobs found Apple because of favorable tax rates? Hardly.

August 18, 2013

It is an article of faith among conservatives that lower tax rates spur entrepreneurship. Are they right? The movie “Jobs” opened this weekend, so let’s start there. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the Apple Computer Company  in 1976 – when the top individual tax rate was 70%; and the corporate tax rate was 48%. […]

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The Empathy Gap.

June 17, 2013

It isn’t just Republican policies that turn people off it is how they phrase them. Sarah Palin offered a prime example at the Faith and Freedom conference. In her speech she lambasted the President over his handling of the Syrian affair. Saying, “I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say […]

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Lies the Cato Institute told me.

January 4, 2013

It is easy to use facts when they support your case. When they don’t, you have to use spin, obfuscation and lies. The Cato Institute is a Koch founded, libertarian, think tank – which unsurprisingly didn’t like the fiscal cliff agreement to raise the tax rate on a tiny fraction of the population. The Institute […]

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Election 2012 – Romney and taxes.

July 27, 2012

ROMNEY INSULTS HIS HOSTS Romney, in London to see his wife’s dressage horse, questioned whether the British were ready to host the Olympics, saying: “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” referring to the last minute hiccups in security. “There were a few things that were disconcerting.” He added: “That obviously is not something which […]

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