Donald Trump has just the nomination of the Republican Party, which has spent decades demonizing welfare recipients as a drain on tax dollars. But he proudly led the charge on taking advantage of real estate tax loopholes, and even offered a course instructing people how to do the same. Unfortunately for them, he left out one little detail: It takes money to make money—and to exploit real estate tax loopholes.
Trump University is a now-defunct “university,” which was little more than an offering of seminars that promised attendees they’d get the tools to become successful investors. Chaired and funded by Donald Trump, who was also the majority owner, the “university” is alleged to have been a fraud by many of the people who paid to attend.
As a result, it is now the target of three different lawsuits, one of which was brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who described Trump University as “a classic bait and switch scheme. It was a scam.”
One of the courses it offered during its years of operation was given by one of Donald’s (supposedly personally vetted) experts, Diane Kennedy, who appears to bill herself at her website as “the Loopholes Queen.”
The course featured Kennedy giving advice on how to use real estate loopholes to avoid taxes, as a strategy for wealth-building.
Now, there are lots of people across the nation who aren’t wealthy, and who don’t even know how to take advantage of the tax benefits for which they qualify. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people making use of whatever tax breaks they can get—and, frankly, there is a great need for making information freely available to working people on how to navigate our complicated tax code, so that they aren’t paying more than their fair share.
But this is not what we’re talking about here. In this case, an obscenely wealthy businessman, who made an enormous amount of money exploiting real estate loopholes, charged people money to have “the loopholes queen” tell them how they can follow his lead—the implication being, though never explicitly stated, that wealth in the realm of Donald’s could follow.
The catch, of course, is that Donald started out with enormous wealth. This wasn’t helpful advice being offered to the Average Jane and Joe out of the goodness of Donald’s heart, but a sinister hoodwinking that charged people to get “tools” that only work for people who already have money to invest—and to pay real financial professionals who offer this advice as part of their job.
Far from being a useful recommendation for average working people, exploiting real estate tax loopholes is bad for the economy to which our fates are tied, as explained by former Democratic New Jersey Senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradly, who also notes Donald took a bath in the ’80s after reforms eradicated the real estate tax shelters to which he’d become “addicted.”
“We ended real estate tax shelters in 1986,” says Bradley, “and he called it a catastrophe. Well, it wasn’t a catastrophe for the country.”
Of course it wasn’t. Because the country needs taxes to function.
But Donald disagrees. Instead, he says, “I try very hard to pay as little tax as possible and have said that for the last two years. I fight very hard because this country wastes our money. They take our tax money and throw it down the drain.”
That’s certainly an interesting perspective for someone seeking to be the executive of the federal government.
For nearly six decades, the Republican narrative about taxation has been about “moochers” and “takers” abusing the welfare system and wasting “our” taxes. Ronald Reagan famously raised welfare fraud and tax waste outrage to a fevered pitch by telling scary stories about “welfare queens.”
But the real danger to our nation has always been “loopholes queens.” And a man who wants to be our next president wants to be their king.
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)