A Taxing Ordeal: Donald Trump and The Week from Hell

Have you ever seen the GIF of the cartoon dog, sat merrily at his coffee table, repeating the mantra ‘this is fine’ as his house burns down around him? That’s kind of where Donald Trump’s PR team must be right now….

The President himself is probably oblivious to the fact that he’s just had the worst week of his near four-year tenure in the White House. His ego, perhaps, or his sheer bloody-mindedness probably leaves him thinking he will win the next election by a landslide.

But he almost certainly won’t triumph by a landslide margin when the polls open on November 3, and he might even win at all given how well supported Joe Biden is in both the polls and the betting market.

From accusations of tax evasion to a bizarre performance in the first Presidential Debate, this past week has been peak Trump. Biden, who has been involved in major politics for the past four decades, has surely never seen anything quite like it….

Trump’s Tax Tango

US Tax Return

Make no mistake, the New York Times has published their revelations about Donald Trump’s scandalously low tax returns at a time to derail his push for a second term in the White House.

But the facts – if that is what they are – confirm that Trump paid just $750 in income tax in 2016 (when he was a ‘humble’ businessman with aspirations of political power) and again in 2017, which was his first year in the presidency.

The allegations have been printed wholesale by the publication, and that suggests they stand wholeheartedly by their claim that Trump didn’t pay a single cent of income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years – making his retort of ‘fake news’ seem highly unlikely at best.

The takeaway points from the NY Times’ exclusive are that:

  • The President has gotten away with paying lower taxes by ‘massaging the truth’ of his business losses
  • He enjoyed a $72.9 million federal tax return at the end of his time on The Apprentice
  • He has reduced his own tax by using his daughter Ivanka as a ‘business consultant’
  • He has active loans worth millions of dollars
  • His tax-deductible expenses include $70,000 spent on hair styling, believe it or not

Trump is the first U.S. President since the 1970s not to make his tax returns public information, although it should be pointed out this is a voluntary act anyway. And, weirdly, tax avoidance isn’t considered much of a criminal act at all in the United States.

And, for the sake of balance, Trump disputes the New York Times’ claims. “I paid $38 million one year, I paid $27 million one year,” he told Biden in their first presidential debate.

He Who Shouts Loudest

Trump v Biden

Credit: patrimonio / bigstock

Imagine having a cool, calm and rational debate with Donald Trump. Go on, close your eyes and imagine it.

You can’t, can you!?

The presidential debate between Trump and Biden was always likely to be car crash TV, with the President’s brash bully-boy tactics complete anathema to the doddery stoicism of the political veteran.

Little was learned from the first televised outing, with Trump continuously talking over Biden and bringing a swift halt to any discussions about coronavirus, race relations and policy.

At one point, Trump took offence after Biden told him to get ‘smarter’ in how he deals with Covid-19. “You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word,” was the President’s scarcely believable comeback.

At one point Biden told Trump to shut up, which shows just how cheesed off the mild-mannered pensioner was getting, but actually that was a pretty smart tactic on the President’s part. He knows that if he gets into a debate about the handling of coronavirus, his record on race and police brutality and matter of tax he is going to lose; by p***ing off Biden, he made his opponent appear cantankerous and emotional.

Trump also refused to condemn the actions of white supremacists – why would he, given they are a key supporter, and he probably walked away from the lectern feeling pretty good about his chances of re-election.

The numbers suggest otherwise….

Who Will Be the Next U.S. President?

There has been a significant shift in the polls and the betting market in the past week, and when accumulating the percentages from all of the major national polls Biden currently holds a 50% to 43% lead, with 7% of voters still undecided.

On Betfair’s Exchange, where more than £103 million in bets have been matched so far, Biden’s odds of winning the election have fallen to 1.62 from 1.71, while Trump’s price has slumped from 2.44 to 2.64.

US Election Odds October 2020

Of course, polls and betting markets have been proven wrong before – see the last Presidential race and Brexit for more evidence of that, and the electoral college system in the United States complicates matters; as Hillary Clinton found out, you can win the most votes and still finish second in a two-horse race.

But the key is in digging deeper into the polls. It appears as if the formerly Republican states are turning to Democratic – Arizona, Ohio and North Carolina have all seen significant red-to-blue shifts, while the likes of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which helped decide the 2016 election despite less than a 1% margin Trump’s favour, have also been lost.

Polls aren’t everything, but they certainly don’t paint a pretty picture for the President.