Sunday, March 19, 2017
For crying out loud, Mr. President, it's time to turn over your tax returns.
It's time to do so, not because of Rachel Maddow's underwhelming and over-hyped show Tuesday night. While the breathless reporting over a few leaked summary pages from a 12-year-old tax return told us nothing about the source of your money, they indicated that, at least for that year, you did indeed pay taxes.
It's time, because it's always been the right thing to do. Mr. President, it has never made a lick of sense to refuse to show your tax returns, not as a candidate and especially now that you are in office. Gerald Ford was the last president to not do so, and even he produced summary pages of his returns during his brief tenure in office. Almost every major candidate -- Bernie Sanders was a disappointing exception -- produced years' worth of returns. You should too.
What possible reason is there not to?
Are you hiding something about where your money came from? Tax returns will spell out the sources of your wealth. They could bolster trust and help will help insulate you from claims of foreign business entanglements.
Is it possible that you are just afraid you'll be embarrassed by a bad year? That you'll look stingy when it comes to charity?
What else could it be? Modesty about your riches?
Let's be serious.
Mr. President, the day after you were sworn in, spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said you would never release your tax returns, apparently missing the fact that this would render you a bald-faced liar, given your previous promises to do so as soon as you were out from under audit.
"We litigated this all through the election," she added. "People didn't care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: most Americans are -- are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like."
Within a day, Conway had walked back her own comments, and fell back on the same excuse you have made for months -- the so-called audit dilemma.
But your protestations that you cannot make public your returns until an alleged audit is complete is pure pretense.
The IRS advises that it usually looks back just three years for a routine audit, and as long as six years on rarer occasions. OK, so show us your most recent tax returns from non-audit years, Mr. President.
But more to the point, there's never been any good reason why being under an audit means someone in Trump's position -- that is, as president of the United States -- can't make his returns public anyway.
Put plainly, Americans deserve to know whether their president is honest.
When it comes to issues of income and investments, a tax return is the gold standard of proof. Instead of producing that proof, and moving on to the important work ahead, you've rashly decided to do the wrong thing, over and over, by withholding your returns.
In the end, the only one who will pay the price for that is yourself. That is, you and your presidency. By which we mean, by extension, everyone everywhere.
Commentary on 03/19/2017
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