Americans are divided on the importance of Trumps tax returns being made public so why dont we focus on more pressing problems instead?
Working Americans are facing countless problems right now. Donald Trumps tax returns dont top the list but you wouldnt know that by listening to politicians or talking heads. When will liberals start talking about issues that matter most to every day voters? Youd think that would be one obvious take away from this humiliating election.
Hillary Clinton was notorious for systematically side-stepping the issues that mattered most to people. A recent study found that the proportion of policy-focused election ads which amounted to 25% of all ads run by the Clinton campaign were by far the lowest percentage [the authors] have seen since the data became available.
The failure of this strategy needs no further explanation: Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States, and he has a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, yet it appears that Democrats and their liberal allies have not yet gotten the message.
Tuesday night saw the revelation of two pages from Trumps 2005 tax returns on Rachel Maddows nightly MSNBC broadcast. It showed that Trump wrote off about $100m in taxes, ultimately paying $38m on $150m of income, a rate of about 25%. As the New York Times reported, the revelation of Trumps tax returns came after an opening monologue about his ties to Russia, a topic that Maddow seems fond of bringing up lately.
But are these the burning issues animating the politics of most Americans? According to a January CNN/ORC poll, 58% of Americans do not believe that alleged Russian interference gave a decisive edge to Trump in the presidential election, and 56% stated that the US and Russia should continue with diplomatic relations regardless.
In the most recent CNN/ORC poll on the policy priorities of the American public, the economy (26%) and healthcare (20%) were higher on the priority list than national security (16%), which may or may not contain concern about Russia. And Americans are split evenly on the importance of Trumps tax returns being made public.
Given the policy discussions that Americans are having, it makes you wonder why pundits like Maddow are not discussing this: the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act will be laden with tax incentives for the wealthiest Americans, with the bill even going so far as to include measures that would enable the Republican-dominated Congress to enact further tax breaks in the future. Again, from the New York Times:
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican plan released this week revealed the full scope of the windfall that the legislation would bring. It offers billions of dollars worth of tax cuts to health insurers, pharmaceutical companies, investors and even tanning salon operators. The cuts amount to nearly $1 trillion over a decade. The beneficiaries would be the richest Americans who for years have complained that the Affordable Care Act unfairly burdened them with the responsibility of subsidizing insurance for the poor.
Thats right: the replacement for the closest thing the US has ever had to a national healthcare system which is sad to say given the leverage that private companies had over the Affordable Care Act in the first place is being used as a stalking horse for Republican tax reform. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has admitted as much.
This issue affords Democrats the perfect opportunity to marry the top two issues that are on Americans minds into a withering critique on Trump and the Republican majoritys newfound connection to the middle class and hardworking Americans.
They could point out that this bill is little different from the solutions that were offered during the Bush administration: endless tax cuts, savings accounts as a replacement for entitlements to the elderly and the uninsured, and a priority given to those who have over those who have not. These Republicans are not any different; behind their populist rhetoric lies the same Wall Street-centered politics that gave us the worst economic calamity in 80 years.
Trump is far from a populist; hes a fabulist, selling the working-class Americans who voted for him a bill of goods. Too bad he will likely get away it, given that the opposition in Washington would rather sound like Joe McCarthys warmed-over corpse than anything resembling a progressive fighter for working people. A pity, since it seems that might actually be a recipe for victory.