Let's just cut to the chase here. Nobody likes paying taxes. I sure as hell don't. Left to our own devices, most of us would do everything possible to claim every deduction we thought we were owed. We may think it's our civic duty, but deep down it's about as popular as going for a colonoscopy.
The real problem I have with Donald Trump's 1995 tax return isn't the fact that writing off almost a billion dollars allowed him to possibly pay no taxes for up to 18 years; sadly that's what the law permits. The problem I have is that this so-called "genius" actually lost a billion dollars in the first place.
I have been saying this now for over a year, but Trump is a snake-oil salesman "selling snake oil to a gullible and frustrated people whose patience has run out and who are too tired and fed up to wait any longer." And like a magician, he has nothing up his sleeves. David Brooks has called him the wrong answer for the right question, among other things.
When Hillary Clinton asks, "What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in one year?" she isn't just being snarky. She's asking a legitimate question, perhaps the essential question of this entire election. Think about it: of all the claims that Trump has made throughout this campaign, none have been repeated more than his so-called business acumen. He's a tremendous success; he knows what it takes to run a company, therefore, he would be the perfect man to run the government.
His 1995 tax return just shot that claim to hell. Go through a list of successful billionaires like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, etc... None of them have written off a billion dollars, and I can assure you none of them thought it was "smart" not to pay any taxes. Buffet, for his part, has publicly stated how wrong it is that his secretary pays more of her income in taxes than he does. I suppose in Trump lingo that would make Buffet a big fat loser.
Another problem I have with all this is that nowhere in Trump's economic plan does he state that if elected he would remove the very loopholes that allowed him to write off that kind of debt. In other words, a Trump presidency would do squat to fix the problems with the tax code; if anything, by giving away billions of dollars to his crony friends - assuming he actually has any - Trump would exacerbate things. The gap between the rich and poor would continue to grow, the national debt - supposedly such a concern to Republicans - would soar and all those trillions of dollars of off shore money that Trump says he wants to repatriate would remain right where they are: out of the U.S. treasury.
If I'm team Clinton, I ride this horse as far as it will take me. Hillary must make the case that Trump isn't just temperamentally unfit for the presidency; she must once and for all destroy this illusion that he is a successful businessman who can deliver us from ourselves. Deliver us? Shit, he can't even deliver himself.
The guy is a charlatan playing us for fools. Like the Wizard of Oz, there's nothing behind that curtain except a lot of smoke. The good thing about smoke is that eventually it clears and all you're left with is the truth.
And that truth, pray God, will inevitably sink Trump.