Editorial 10-01-2020

Trump’s taxes: Shocking, but not surprising

The recent disclosure by the New York Times of President Donald Trump’s personal tax returns for nearly a 20-year period, up to and including his 2017 return (which Trump would have filed in April, 2018), presents  evidence of the extent both of Trump’s tax avoidance schemes and the precarious situation of his personal finances.

Trump always has stated his disdain for taxes. While it may be true that he has been able to avoid paying taxes because of loopholes that favor the wealthy, especially real estate developers, what really stands out is the bottom line figure of $750 in taxes that he paid in BOTH 2016 and 2017.

Americans who make only the minimum wage pay far more in federal income taxes than Trump paid in 2016 and 2017. 

In addition, anyone who has filed a tax return for more than one year knows that it is almost impossible to have the same bottom line figure in two consecutive years (which is especially true for someone like Trump, who has multiple business ventures), unless you go out of your way to manipulate the figures.

Another fact that is evident from the tax returns is that Trump is hardly the mogul billionaire he always has claimed to be. The tax returns demonstrate that Trump is a truly terrible businessman.

Just as Trump’s casinos and other projects failed miserably in the late 1980s and early 90s, his high-end golf clubs around the world are a cash sinkhole for him today.

Most disturbing however, the tax returns demonstrate the extent to which Trump personally is deeply in debt. Trump has almost half a billion dollars in loans (that he personally guaranteed) coming due within the next four years, but few liquid assets available to cover this huge debt.

Given that we know Trump is the ultimate embodiment of a pay-to-play president, does anyone doubt that Trump’s desperate need to curry favor either with a bank, an exceedingly-wealthy individual, or a corrupt foreign country in order to refinance his huge debt could compromise his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?

Finally, the story in the Times makes it clear that for Trump, his re-election is highly personal. If he loses in November, he almost certainly will be facing heightened scrutiny by the IRS and federal authorities relating to his tax filings. He also will have no ability to leverage the office of President in order to obtain refinancing for his huge debt.

The danger lurking for our country is that we know that Trump will go to any extent to win the election — and that does not bode well for our democracy.

 Suffolk DA Rollins steps up

The announcement this week by Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins that her office will be expanding the database (often referred to as LEAD) that is comprised of law enforcement personnel whose prior conduct could impact their credibility as witnesses in a court proceeding comes as welcome news to every citizen in the Commonwealth.

The LEAD (Law Enforcement Automatic Discovery) database includes officers who have had incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions, candor issues, or some other type of issue reflecting on their ability to perform their job impartially, including discriminatory or defamatory actions, language or conduct targeting any protected category or class, based on race; color; religious creed; national origin; immigration status; sex; gender identity; sexual orientation; pregnancy; ancestry; or status as a veteran.

Although the LEAD database has been in existence for a while, Rollins has expanded it with the addition of 115 officers to a new total of 136 names of law enforcement officers who work, have worked, or could work in Suffolk County.

The list includes former police officers in the cities of Boston, Revere, and Chelsea, as well as MBTA police and Massachusetts State Troopers.

We hasten to point out that the expansion of the LEAD database should not be seen as a reflection that in any way casts doubt upon the basic honesty and integrity of those who work in our police departments.

Even though a total of 136 officers (most of whom have resigned or retired) may seem like a large figure, it represents only a small fraction of the overwhelming majority of our men and women who wear a badge and who do their job, day-in and day-out, protecting our citizenry with honor, dignity, and compassion. 

The criminal justice system is imperfect, even under the best of circumstances, for everybody involved, victims and defendants alike. 

We applaud District Attorney Rollins for taking this step to ensure that every citizen of our state — not merely Suffolk County residents — receive a fair trial, which is an essential cornerstone of our democracy.

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