News Round-Up: September 16, 2020

(promotional photo from the acclaimed film ‘Call Me By Your Name’)

Some news items you might have missed:

The Independent: In a new interview, Luca Guadagnino, who directed the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age film Call Me By Your Name, defended casting straight actors Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in gay roles.

Washington Blade: Gay Democratic activist Eric Morrison defeated a six-term incumbent by a decisive margin in Delaware’s Democratic primary on Tuesday for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Morrison is considered the strong favorite to win in the Nov. 3 general election in a heavily Democratic district. If elected, he will emerge as Delaware’s first openly gay man to serve in the Delaware State Legislature.

•  Washington Post: The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted Wednesday that most of the American public will not have access to a vaccine against the novel coronavirus until late spring or summer of next year. Redfield said the vaccine will be provided first to people most vulnerable to covid-19 with Americans who are considered at lower risk offered the shot more gradually.

AARP: The venerable seniors’ organization takes a look at sacrifices Americans made out of patriotism during World War II. But, today, wearing a face mask is ‘tyranny…’

CNN: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, on the Donald’s biggest concerns about releasing his tax returns: “His biggest fear is, if that tax return was released, there’s a whole slew of accountants and forensic accountants that will rip through it and he will end up with a massive tax bill, penalties, fines, and possibly even tax fraud.”

NY Times Obtains 10 Years Of Trump Taxes

Donald Trump

The New York Times has reportedly obtained printouts from Donald Trump’s “official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994.”

It may come as no surprise that the Donald was not nearly as successful as he has touted for years.

In fact, in the years leading up to his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, which purported Trump to be a self-made billionaire, he was hemorrhaging millions and millions of dollars.

From the New York Times:

The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.

In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.

The Times goes on to note that one maneuver Trump would use to stay afloat was to acquire company shares with borrowed money, then publicly announce he was considering a takeover. Once the stock price would bump up, he would quietly sell his shares. The Times reports Trump reported $67.3 million in such stock gains from 1986 through 1989. However, savvy stock watchers eventually stopped taking his takeover announcements seriously.

Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, said in a statement that the tax information was false but didn’t point out any specific errors, according to the Times. He reportedly told the newspaper that IRS transcripts “are notoriously inaccurate.”

Of course, the good news is Trump’s people can clear up any inaccuracies by providing the actual tax returns which would show the Trumpster to be all that he’s claimed to be all these years, right?

By the way – yes, there’s a Trump tweet for everything. This one from 2012 didn’t age too well, did it?

Mick Mulvaney: Democrats Will “Never” Get Trump’s Taxes

During an appearance on state TV this morning, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday that Democrats will never get their hands on President Trump's tax returns, calling the request is "a political stunt."

During an appearance on state TV this morning, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday that Democrats will never get their hands on President Trump’s tax returns, calling the request is “a political stunt.”

On Wednesday this week, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally asked the IRS on Wednesday to turn over 6 years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns citing a little-known IRS code that gives only the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee the power to request tax documents from anyone.

Trump Unveils His Tax Reform Proposal

With a passive/aggressive boast that “it’s not good for me,” Donald Trump introduced his proposed tax reform plan at a rally in Indiana.

Note: he prefers everyone call it “tax cuts” for better marketing. That should tell you something right off the bat.

Here are the main details you should know:

The current 7 tax brackets would become just three consisting of 12%, 25%, and 35%. The current top rate is 39.6% and the lowest rate is 10%.

While that’s an uptick for the lowest income Americans, Trump says that would be offset by doubling the current standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and to $24,000 for married couples. That would also simplify the complex process of itemized deductions for millions.

Most itemized deductions would also be eliminated, but would preserve deductions for mortgage interest expenses, charitable giving, as well as retaining incentives for education and retirement savings plans.

Trump’s proposal also includes the option of adding a fourth higher rate above 35% to pretend the rich might their fair share. But there are no indications of what income levels would be associated with the higher rate, or what that new rate might be. I don’t see Republicans doing anything with this.

The child tax credit will increase to an unspecified amount.

Trump is proposing no more inheritance tax (a huge boon to rich folks) as well as getting rid of the alternative minimum tax.

Corporate taxes would drop from 35% to 20%.

While Team Trump didn’t offer an immediate cost estimate for the plan, a preliminary estimate from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculated a loss of around $2.2 trillion in taxes to the government over the next 10 years.

Donald Trump and the Republicans say the tax reforms will rev up the U.S. economic engine, thus compensating for lost revenue. Trump repeatedly promised during the election that overhauling the tax code would raise economic growth to 4 percent.

Find more details at the New York Times.

Donald Trump Lies Again That U.S. Is “Highest Taxed Nation In The World”

Repeating an oft-told lie, Donald Trump tweeted again today that the U.S. is the “highest taxed nation in the world.”

This has been proven over and over to be incorrect.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact has debunked myth this several times.

When we looked at this claim in the past, we compared the United States to the 33 other industrialized nations in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Data from 2014, the most recent year available, shows that the United States wasn’t the most highly taxed by the typical metrics and actually places near the bottom or around the middle of the pack.

Click image to enlarge

The Twitterverse chimed in:

Donald Trump Promises 35% Tax On Mexican Made Cars

Donald Trump seems to think he can impose taxes at will.

Via the Trumpsters at Breitbart:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would impose a 35% tax on any cars made in Mexico to keep companies from moving out of the US. Discussing a scenario where a car company wanted to build a plant in Mexico, Trump stated, “What would President Trump do? So I’d call the head of Ford, or whatever company, but I’d call the head of Ford. I’d say, ‘Congratulations, I understand you’re building a massive plant, in Mexico, and you’re taking a lot of jobs away from us in Michigan and other places. I don’t like that. I don’t like it. I just don’t like it.’ And he’ll say, ‘Well, Mr. President. It’s wonderful, wonderful for the economy. Oh, great, just great.’

“It’s wonderful for whose economy? Not for our economy. We lose on everything. We lose on jobs. We lose on money. We lose on everything. So, what I’d say is the following: ‘I don’t want you to do that. And if you do it, you’re not going to have any cars coming across the border unless you pay a 35% tax.’ That’s it. That’s it. No, that’s it! And they’re going to say — they’re going to say to me, ‘Mr. President, please, please, please.’ Now, I guarantee you. Let’s say I make this call at 9:00 in the morning, by 5:00 in the afternoon, I think the deal is done, they move back to the United States.”

Donald Trump, Breaking 40 Years Of Tradition, Will Not Release His Tax Returns

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has reversed himself and, in an interview with the Associated Press, announced that he will not be releasing his tax returns before the election in November.

From the New York Times:

“There’s nothing to learn from them,” Mr. Trump told The A.P., explaining that he did not think voters were particularly interested in the contents of his returns.

The release of tax returns is not legally required of presidential candidates, but there is a long tradition of major party nominees putting their returns forward for the public to peruse. Joseph J. Thorndike, an adjunct college professor who tracks presidential tax returns as the director of the Tax History Project, said Mr. Trump would be the first major candidate since 1976 to not make any of his full returns public. President Gerald R. Ford released a tax summary that year.

During the heat of his primary battle, Mr. Trump said he would release his tax information and blamed the delay on the complexity of his finances. He later said that he could not do it immediately because he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, and that his lawyers advised him against it. Mr. Trump has also explained that he cannot release returns form previous years because the government audits him almost every year.

Although Mr. Trump has cited the audit as a reason for withholding his returns, Dr. Thorndike noted that President Richard M. Nixon released his under audit, starting the tradition of candidates making theirs public.

“I think 40 years of tradition carries real moral and ethical weight,” Dr. Thorndike said. “It is quite striking that a major candidate would decide not to release their tax information — especially someone with an admittedly complex tax situation.”

Among the most prominent people to call on Mr. Trump to release his returns this year has been Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee who did not want to release his tax returns but finally relented under pressure. One of the people who was encouraging him to do so that year was Mr. Trump, who said that Mr. Romney should be proud of his wealth and not hold back his financial information.

“Mitt has to get those tax returns out,” Mr. Trump said in a Fox News interview at the time. “I’m a little surprised they weren’t better prepared for that.”

You have to wonder what he’s hiding, no?