Paula Poundstone Wants Donald Trump To Follow Her Lead On That Whole Tax Return Thing
During Monday night's first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton went after her opponent Donald Trump's decision not to release his tax records, given that has been standard practice since the 1980s for presidential candidates. She pointed to four possible reasons that he might choose not to, the last being that he pays no taxes. His response? "That makes me smart." But is that so smart? Paula Poundstone had a great response to Trump's taxes comment on Twitter after the debate.
The comic, most famous for her stints on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me , tweeted, "I'm not running for president, but I'd like to release my tax returns. I'm proud of paying my share." It's a healthy relationship to have with taxes — especially if you're going to be president of the United States. They do, after all, pay for nearly everything the federal government manages, from paving roads to Medicare.
Is it fair to be (probably) a millionaire like Trump (no tax returns), living in a Manhattan penthouse and potentially not pay your share? There's no knowing what Trump's financial situation is, and maybe he did pay federal taxes, but who knows? Here's what Clinton said on the matter:
Why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.
That stings. And the comeback kid of the election didn't have anything more to say than that about avoiding taxes? "That makes me smart" is less a comeback and more an admission. For a president, I'd rather have someone with Poundstone's patriotic taxpaying sentiment.
Plus there's taxes' central role in our story of independence — remember "taxation without representation"? Our fourth president and founding father James Madison said, "The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government." He must be rolling over in his grave with Trump on the debate stage.
But he won't be the only one. Plato got in the first dig at Trump in about 380BC. He wrote in The Republic , "When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income." Clinton has released all of her tax returns since 1977. And they show a candidate who, together with Bill, continues to give to charity, donating about 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income.
That actually sounds more than smart. It's presidential.