October 3, 2020



Mark Rubin

I wrote most of a post on Monday and Tuesday morning. It focused on the tax return story. Not quite done, I got wrapped up in life for the rest of the week. The Tuesday Night Sh*t Show. Illness at work. A bad case. Blah, blah, blah. Then, yesterday morning, a sick president and, by late afternoon, an occupant in the Presidential Suite at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

On Friday morning, someone near and dear to me texted me about President Donald J. Trump’s health fiasco. No recent blogs, she inquired. Maybe, I said, and told her I had most of the tax thing done, but that it seemed like fish wrap, after so much had happened.

I try hard to write Fresh. Regurgitating the news of the day suits me not at all. Covering what the pros have already written about, using more talent than I will ever have, suits me not at all. Unless I can offer something new or different, I opt for silence. Lately, silence fits. (Don’t ignore laziness, of course. Never forget it!)

Present conditions leave me torn. Decency says, back off. Right now, our president fights for his life. His actions have messed with us badly (and Boy Howdy, ain’t that an understatement), and my head screams: Schadenfreude. Karma. Still, POTUS and I share roughly 99% of the same genes. His children and grandchildren love him. Melania too, maybe. I refuse to let his awfulness take from me the humanity that let’s me wake up every day and see a hopeful future.

Mr. Trump has revealed just how f*cked we are. I wish for him and his wife a full recovery, so that we can reject him fully and completely on November 3, 2020, and require him to account for his wrongful acts on or after January 21, 2020.

Finally, about that post. It’s here. I wrestle with posting it, given its subject’s health problems. On balance, though, his callous disregard for millions of fellow Americans who suffered (and suffer) from the same disease which afflicts him leaves me … not comfortable but not horribly uncomfortable!


Trump and the Taxes

trump and taxes

President Donald Trump

The Times Story

The New York Times has the story (and a Pulitzer will come its way): Long Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance. It’s a humdinger. A doozy. The real deal.

Out of the box, my only surprise here relates to how long it took for someone to share the returns. Donald Trump demands loyalty and offers none, so no one should have expected everyone to keep quiet about his sham. Sham? I’m richer than you can believe, while my losses allow me to pay no taxes.

A Poseur and a Tax Cheat

So, I see two things going on here. First, we have a poseur, passing himself off as a success when his promotional materials do, shall we say, overstate the case. Second, Mr. Trump cheats on his taxes. BIGLY!!!

The Poseur

I have practiced law for 39 years, less almost three weeks. I was blessed, early, to get “Out of My League” clients, goin’ and blowin’ like nobody’s business. The business owners and real estate developers used debt to succeed and it worked well, but not so much when the economy crashed. The hard money lenders loaned money against assets, and they lasted longer, but when the crap hit the fan they had their challenges, too. (As well, a man with a battered briefcase, a work ethic, and an implemented idea walked into my office in 1984. No debt, ever, and the legacy he and his wife left behind shines!)

Fife Symington ran for governor in Arizona in 1990. He ran as an R and won, touting his business successes. Like Trump, he made his money in real estate. Like Trump, his empire depended on borrowed money, heaped on a Good Talker with a big name. (Mr. Symington’s family includes a U.S. Senator, ambassadors, and a U.S. Secretary of State.) And, like Trump, when bad times arrived, things went badly.

Mr. Symington’s failure surprised me not at all. Why anyone thought he managed debt better than his competitors made no sense. (Truth be told, and I am not bragging, I shared my thoughts about Mr. Symington when he ran. None of my R friends paid me any mind, and I suspect they believe, even now, that Mr. Trump got a raw deal from the Failing. New. York. Times. Sometimes, you can’t cure stupid.)

About those credible fraud claims? High-flyers often cut corners, assuming when better times come all will be well. Reading Wells Fargo v. Arizona Labor Teamsters, a case which involves the after-effects of Mr. Symington’s development efforts, offers plenty of ugly facts. Nothing like the way Mr. Trump conducts himself in the business world, but not a pretty picture.

In Mr. Symington’s case, a jury convicted him. The appellate court set aside the conviction on procedural grounds. Before he got a new trial, President Bill Clinton pardoned him. (In college, Symington rescued Clinton, saving him from a likely drowning.)

Like Mr. Symington, Mr. Trump’s evident lack of business success fits the pattern. He ran as a businessman, and he’s anything but. Huckster fits the bill!

The Tax Cheat

As for tax cheating, Mr. Trump distinguishes himself, even from typical tax cheats. Haircuts? Uh, No!!! Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of business losses? Look, the tax code favors real estate investing but there are limits. A family compound, passed off as an investment asset? Not what works for others.

Mr. Trump must have moments of self-awareness, when he recognizes how well the government treated him prior to January 20, 2017. His party has decimated the IRS, leaving us totally lacking in adequate resources to chase after crooks and con men. Maybe, just maybe, we will see action on these matters next year, when Mr. Trump’s shield – the presidency – falls away. If so, Mr. Trump will rue the day he decided to run for president. And, in doing so, he will join tens of millions of thinking Americans.

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