Donald Trump and His Taxes

The most telling moment of last night’s presidential debate came when Hillary Clinton suggested that, for years, Donald Trump has paid no taxes on his billions of dollars in income. He did not deny it, in fact he said “That makes me smart!”

Every American should be outraged by this. You pay taxes. I pay taxes. On my less than fifty thousand dollars income I pay federal tax, state tax, property tax and sales tax. Donald Trump’s statement reveals that his political philosophy is straight out of Ayn Rand, who considered selfishness to be a virtue.

What do we ordinary folks get for our taxes in America? A bloated military budget, a crumbling infrastructure and little else. Emergency services, disaster relief, police services, and fire-fighting services are publicly funded, as is our dismally performing public school system.  Our payroll taxes get us Social Security payments in old age, unemployment payments in hard times, worker’s comp and disability payments should we need them. In Europe, Canada and Australia, where taxes are higher, citizens get subsidized higher education, universal healthcare, subsidized child care, and paid maternity leave.

The marginal tax rate on the wealthy has been reduced drastically in the last fifty years. During the Eisenhower administration it was over 90%. We had a top notch infrastructure and the most prosperous middle class the world had ever seen. Taxes were cut in the Kennedy administration and again in the Reagan administration. The George Bush administration cut taxes to 36%. During the Obama administration the Bush tax cuts expired and the marginal tax rate rose to 39%.  In reality, given all of the loopholes the wealthy pay only about 15% and some, like Trump, pay nothing at all. The share that corporations pay of the federal budget has dropped from 33% in 1960 to less than 10% today. Whose taxes make up the difference? Yours and mine.

During this time there was the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. These wars, combined with the drastically lowered marginal tax rate have caused America’s national debt to soar to nearly 20 trillion dollars-over $60,000 per citizen. Rather than raise taxes to make up this deficit, federal, state and local governments have cut public services to the bone. This includes education, health care, mental health, and in some cases vital services like police and fire fighting. This is all in keeping with Donald Trump’s Ayn Rand philosophy, and for Donald Trump to pay no taxes makes him “smart.”

What has happened to our once prosperous American middle class? Fifty percent of American families now live from paycheck to paycheck with no savings at all. Our young people, seeking higher education, are so burdened with college debt that many cannot afford to buy houses, marry or raise children. Many can’t afford to leave their parent’s homes.

It is time for Americans to reject Donald Trump and the misguided philosophy of Ayn Rand which makes selfishness a virtue. It is time to raise taxes on the wealthy to at least 50%. It is time to create millions of jobs by repairing our crumbling infrastructure. It is time to institute debt free higher education, universal health care, subsidized child care and paid maternity leave like other, more civilized societies, have done. It is time to preserve the habitability of our planet by promoting clean sources of energy and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

As for Donald Trump, if he thinks that not paying taxes is smart and that taxes are only for suckers like you and me, he doesn’t even deserve to be an American citizen, let alone President.

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