Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Big Bang Lax Tax Returns, Silly Sean Spicer and Other Signs of an Imperial Presidency

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Big Bang Lax Tax Returns, Silly Sean Spicer and Other Signs of an Imperial Presidency

Article excerpt

In the context of the rest of us Americans paying our taxes at the moment, the self-declared genius in the White House, President Donald J. Trump, has still not told us what taxes he has paid.

He takes the position that because he is being audited he can't tell us about last year's return. That does not address the fact that he could have revealed what he is paying this year, when he filed, before an audit could have been initiated by the Internal Revenue Service for 2016. It is perfectly obvious that his intent is not to let Americans know what he paid, but to continue to keep from us that information.

Let us understand perfectly. It is not that the information on his taxes will influence the outcome of the elections. That is done already. We let him get away without revealing his tax information before the elections, unlike other presidential candidates in recent years. It's not that he will be impeached for what is in the returns. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate will not do that in any case, desirous of keeping a Republican in the White House. Besides, who could possibly want Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. Trump's white-haired spear-carrier, in his place?

Why we want to see Mr. Trump's tax returns is because we want to see, first, if he paid any, and, second, if the returns cast any light on the still-murky relationship that he, his campaign staff and his companies may have had with the Russia of President Vladimir V. Putin. Right now he seems to be kicking up dust over whatever that relationship might be, in the form of basically meaningless, contradictory statements and the Syria cruise missile and Afghanistan bomb attacks.

We still need to know. He claims that the Democrats financed the tax day protests in something like 150 American towns and cities this past weekend. That is nonsense. I don't like the Democrats much either. I want to know about Mr. Trump's taxes because I care about our country. I also pay taxes.

The second true abomination that turned up last week was the fact that the White House will no longer make its logs of visitors available to us peasants. Former President Barack Obama's record on that score was not perfect. He apparently redacted from the released version of the registers the names of Sasha's and Malia's playmates and their families. If Barron Trump is ever there, I can see why the names of his playmates should be kept private, for their and their families' security.

I can also see why Mr. Trump doesn't want the public to know who comes to see Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman.

But what is signified by this denial of information to the public is a lack of understanding on the part of Mr. Trump and his fellow trough-feeders of who works for whom. These people's salaries are paid by the American taxpayer. They work for us. They are our employees. "Civil servant" means they work for the people, not the other way around. …

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