Of the countless absurdities from this year’s election cycle, perhaps none are more unbelievable than America’s love affair with Donald Trump. Why, one struggles to comprehend, do hardworking, patriotic Americans sympathize with this exploitative tycoon?
Time and time again, Trump has proven himself a greedy businessman bent on amassing wealth, often at the expense of the little guy. Just this week, documents were leaked suggesting that Trump, despite being a billionaire, has paid almost nothing in taxes during the past two decades. Though he thinks himself above paying taxes, as president he would still ask struggling American families to pay their fair share.
From hiring illegal Polish laborers instead of legal Americans, proposing massive handouts to the top 1 percent, and promoting the use of asbestos, Trump’s actions demonstrate the man has no shame and no respect for America’s working class.
Does Trump Even Pay His Workers?
In the September 26 debate against rival Hillary Clinton, a flustered Trump did not shy away from this unscrupulous image. When accused by Clinton of not paying construction contractors, Trump defended himself by saying the contractors “didn’t do a good job,” and when the Democratic nominee added that Trump had “rooted for the housing crisis” for his own personal gain, Trump cut her off by saying “That’s called business.”
Yikes. And, this Friday’s debate between the 2 nominees is sure to produce more of the same.
The second debate will feature a new format: instead of using a moderator, questions will be electronically submitted and voted on by ordinary Americans watching from home. Perhaps the town-hall system will finally reveal to working-class Americans that the spray-tanned narcissist is anything but their champion.
What? Pay Taxes Like the Rest of ‘Em?
Before declaring his bid for the presidency, Trump vowed again and again that, if he ran for office, he would release his tax returns. For example, in a May 2014 interview with Ireland’s TV3: “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns. Absolutely,” Trump promised.
However, the Republican nominee still has yet to publish the records. When confronted about this fact by CNN’s Lester Holt, the moderator in last week’s debate, Trump backtracked on his pledge, saying he would release his tax returns only when Clinton released her deleted emails.
Clinton countered by suggesting there’s “something he’s hiding” by not disclosing his tax returns. A New York Times exposé published last Sunday gives evidence to Clinton’s claims. Specifically, the article reveals that Trump may have avoided paying any federal income tax for almost 2 decades.
The Times received records from 1995 showing Trump declared a net loss of $916 Million. Because of a loophole known as net operating loss, a provision favored by America’s wealthiest dynasties, Trump could take advantage of the loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income. The result is that Trump has most likely avoided paying almost $1 Billion in taxes over the past 18 years.
Jack Mitnick, Trump’s accountant during this period, confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents. He told the Times:
“[Trump] knew we could use the tax code to protect him…Here the guy was building incredible net worth and not paying tax on it.”
Clinton jumped on the article’s revelations, saying they proved that Trump embodied the “rigged system” which allows the 1 percent to horde America’s wealth and power. “He abuses his power, games the system, puts his own interests ahead of the country’s,” Clinton told a crowd in Toledo, Ohio on Monday. “It’s always Trump first, and everyone else last.”
The use of fancy bookkeepers and obscure loopholes to dodge taxes is a glaring inconsistency for a candidate portraying himself as an ordinary American who will stand up for ordinary Americans. It shows that Trump views himself as superior to normal people as well as the system in which all citizens have to pay taxes. This investigation raises other important questions: How can honest, tax-paying Americans sympathize with a man who shirks his civic duty to support his country? And, how can a candidate who clearly displays no respect for the U.S. government become its leader?
Tell That to the Widows and Orphans of Mesothelioma Victims
Besides letting America’s workers pay his taxes for him, Trump’s position on asbestos-related issues also reveals the candidate is against so-called “blue collar” America. In his book The Art of the Deal, Trump argued that the movement to ban asbestos is a conspiracy “led by the mob.” He also claimed that asbestos is “100% safe.”
Trump made these bold claims after 100 years of scientific and medical evidence has already proven that asbestos is an extremely hazardous and deadly mineral. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists asbestos as a Type I carcinogen (without a doubt carcinogenic), while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly states “There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.” Each year, an estimated 15,000 Americans tragically die due to the effects of asbestos exposure.
Perhaps Trump can speak so ignorantly about asbestos because he runs no risk of encountering the toxic substance. Many of the Americans who were (and are) exposed to asbestos are hard-working laborers and their families. Workers in the steel, auto, and construction industries are often tragically exposed to asbestos at the behest of their employers. Because the military frequently used asbestos before the 1970s, especially in the construction of Navy vessels, one-third of victims suffering from the deadly effects asbestos exposure are U.S. veterans.
While “making deals” in his Manhattan penthouse or his office in Trump Tower, it’s unlikely Trump has ever had to put on a pair of work gloves and clear a wall of insulation. If he had, maybe he wouldn’t speak so highly of a substance that has ended so many lives prematurely. If he had ever met with the working-class families missing a loved one because he or she was killed by asbestos, perhaps he wouldn’t make such promises about the carcinogen’s safety.
Trump even once tweeted that the Twin Towers wouldn’t have fallen if they had been built with asbestos. It’s clear that the man has no connection to New York’s brave firefighters and rescue workers. If he did, he would understand that the Towers did in fact contain asbestos and that many first responders are now suffering and dying because of it.
Big Guy Who Steps on the Little Guy
Not only does Donald Trump promote the use of asbestos, he’s also exposed workers to the deadly substance. The only thing was… they were illegal immigrants who were working off the books.
In the early 80s, Trump hired over 200 undocumented Polish immigrants to build his iconic Trump Tower. Known as the “Polish Brigade,” the illegal laborers were paid $4 or $5 an hour, if they were ever paid at all. According to 1 injured worker, Trump made the men “work in choking clouds of asbestos dust without protective equipment.”
But, wait… Isn’t Trump also saying that the U.S. needs to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants because they’re stealing the jobs of Americans? And, yet, he has a history of hiring illegals instead of American citizens?
Donald Trump’s hypocrisy doesn’t end here. Despite his claims to fight for the little guy, Trump’s proposed economic policy would greatly benefit the wealthiest 1 percent, increasing America’s already staggering income inequality. For example, Trump vows to erase the estate tax, which targets inheritances of more than $5 Million per individual. If this tax is erased, America’s richest families would only have an easier time clinging to their wealth, while America’s working class would have to make up the lost tax revenue.
Trump promises he’ll greatly reduce the income tax as well as the corporate tax. Independent research has concluded that Trump’s income tax reductions would most significantly benefit the highest-income households. Decreasing the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, moreover, would only make it easier for corporations to tighten their stranglehold on the economy.
This is all to say only what we’ve known to be true all along: Trump is an unbelievably rich man looking out first and foremost for rich people like him. Despite his reputation, Trump will never be a champion of America’s working class. The fact that so many voters believe otherwise only makes sense in the context of this year’s election, where the unbelievable has become the everyday expectation.