That President Donald Trump at one time lost more than a billion dollars is still less concerning than his unwillingness to release his tax records in the first place.
The New York Times obtained more than 10 years of President Trump’s tax records, which span 1985 to 1994. Reports say that the losses were the result of some “sketchy” business deals and make him one of the “biggest financial losers” in the country, according to the newspaper.
We’ll put aside for a moment that “sketchy” sounds more like a word a teenager would use than a word a national publication would use in relation to the leader of the free world.
President Trump in those years was not a public servant but a businessman who clearly didn’t mind a high level of risk (not that that has changed). Most of us can’t fathom losing or even making a billion dollars. But Trump is a super-wealthy entrepreneur. He’s playing the game on a whole different level.
Trump was gambling with money that was more or less his own. And as far as we know right now, there’s nothing illegal about the dealings revealed in the tax documents.
Our point here is that the public should not be terribly surprised or scandalized by what the Times found. But that doesn’t mean the documents aren’t relevant to the American people.
Is it worrisome that President Trump could lose that much money in a relatively short amount of time? Sure. The losses were so great he didn’t pay income tax for eight of the 10 years. There’s room for voters to be concerned about the prudence and decision-making of someone who takes on that kind of risk.
But most importantly, this revelation highlights President Trump’s disregard for transparency. Trump is the first president since Watergate to decline to make his tax returns public.
When someone with many multimillion-dollar international business deals becomes the leader of a country, those deals could affect every person in the country. They could create conflicts of interest, affect alliances, influence other countries’ perceptions of the United States.
Turning over the tax returns is a tradition, not a legal requirement, but it’s one that has huge political and economic implications.
President Trump so far has not been willing to share his more recent returns. We hope considering the nature of his current role, he’ll change his mind.