One of the many interesting themes surrounding the 2016 election was whether Donald Trump would release his income tax returns. Trump repeatedly refused, claiming to be under audit, a fact that has been widely disputed in the media. Conspiracy theories have been reported, the most common being that Trump is keeping his income tax information secret for any number of nefarious reasons. Some speculate that he may not make nearly as much money as he claims, or that his tax burden is so low he’s not paying ‘his fair share’. Another popular theory is that his charitable giving is non-existent.
Last night two of those questions were put to rest as MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow released a leaked portion of Trump’s 2005 Federal form 1040. The contents of those pages, though, are anti-climactic, to say the least.
Per the return, the Trump’s earned $150 million in 2005, paying a total of $38 million in federal taxes, an effective tax rate of 25%. By comparison, the average taxes paid by similar income earners was 22.5%, while the effective tax rates paid by President Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015 was 18.7% and 13.5%, respectively. The leaked documents did not include any of Trump’s supplemental tax schedules and therefore contained no information regarding his charitable giving.
On libertarian principle, I can appreciate the fact that, after eight long years of subservience, we once again have a watchdog media attempting to hold the president and government accountable.
The problem is that there are already so many valid issues on which to oppose Trump that it seems to me that the American left is busy wasting their time, energy and outrage by continuing a full-court press on every single issue. That kind of coverage quickly becomes white noise: important issues get rolled together with non-important issues into one big unintelligible mess. One only needs to look at the hypocritical Republican outrage machine during the Clinton presidency for an example of how tired the public can grow of this strategy.
If Democrats and the left in general don’t learn this lesson fast, they should start getting used to the idea of Donald Trump as a two term president.