Asheville daily planet, September 2020
When the history of the Donald Trump era is written – beginning this Thanksgiving, we hope – I think his tweets will be yawn material. They will be seen as each day’s noise.
The Trump saying that will best summarize his presidency happened on Christmas Eve, 2017, at his Mar-a-Lago complex. With rich friends around him, he touted the newly passed tax overhaul.
“You all just got a lot richer,” he said.
He wasn’t lying. Indeed, the bill played favorites toward wealthy individuals and corporations. It could only have been designed by lobbyists and tax lawyers.
Six days after the 2016 election, Republican speechwriter David Frum made two predictions. He wrote: “Unlike his analogues in Poland/Hungary/Turkey, I don’t imagine that Donald Trump will immediately set out to build an authoritarian state. I expect his first priority will be to use the presidency massively to enrich himself.”
Bingo. The president said that tax cuts for corporations would result in jobs. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time, “More than 70 percent of this [tax cut] will be returned to workers.” The Republican Congress named the bill, “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
They were all lying. Workers were a cynical smokescreen.
A year after the tax bill took effect, NBC News looked back: ”Companies have instead used the extra cash to spend billions of dollars buying back their own stock, boosting the value of shares held by investors….Over the past year, S&P 500 companies have given their shareholders a record $1 trillion in the form of buybacks and dividends.”
“Some companies did use part of the tax cut to give their employees a one-time cash bonus,” NBC continued, “allowing [the companies] to benefit workers without raising the company’s fixed costs. However, employees pay a higher tax on bonuses as supplemental income.”
“Jobs Act?” In name only.
But what about us? Snopes.com fact-checked Trump’s middle-class claim: “Eighty-seven million households with incomes under $200,000 a year will see their tax burdens increase by 2027.”
And last month, Newsweek Magazine reported: “The Trump administration’s deficit-bloating package of tax cuts passed by Congress in 2017 led the following year to the 400 wealthiest families in America—all of them with a net worth in the billions of dollars—paying a lower tax rate than the bottom 50 percent of households.”
Ya gotta love these guys. Right out in the open. But then, self-interest is part of Trump’s persona that we take for granted.
But hear me, folks. If Trump is reelected, we ain’t seen nutin’ yet.
I was living in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos era. His two elected terms were OK. But just before his second term expired, he declared martial law. And In his 14 years as dictator, he stashed untold billions all over the world.
Here’s an anecdote from The Guardian newspaper: “This [activity after martial law] was no longer just about kickbacks. Marcos started to steal whole companies, using the crude tactics of a gangster. He wanted the nation’s electricity company, Meralco, owned b Eugenio Lopez, patriarch of one of the families who had run the country for centuries. He had Lopez’s son charged with plotting to assassinate him, which carried the death penalty. The old oligarch handed over his company for $220 (it was worth $400M).”
The United States has an election scheduled for November. All things being equal, Trump is likely to lose. But all things are not equal.
Trump said last March, “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.”
Whether he has these powers or not, he thinks he does, or wants them. And that can be enough. If he prevails, he could make Marcos look like a rookie.
It’s up to us, folks. Trump has to be beaten in November so bad there will be no doubt that the American people want honesty and love in the White House, not greed.
Vote him out. And again I say, vote!