1. It’s Wednesday, March 15, 2017. It’s the ides of March.
It’s the birthday of Andrew Jackson and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. People who like one generally don’t like the other.
2. I haven’t done a post in a while. The last one was written the day my father passed away.
The very next day, my wife’s father – another great man – passed away.
So, yeah, there’s been a lot to deal with the past two weeks. I’m planning something more specific about the circumstances in the next few days.
3. Some folks who watched the Trump tax reveal on Rachel Maddow’s show last night feel let down. They were hoping for some shocker about how much Trump is in the Russians’ pocket, or whether he paid off some mobsters or even that he isn’t as rich as he says he is.
That only the front two pages of Trump’s 2005 return surfaced guaranteed that what was revealed was a mere sliver of the information.
I have a business (this) and I know how complicated my return is. I’m certain Trump’s 2005 return is about as long as “War and Peace.”
I’ll get to the hyping of the reveal in a sec. Here’s what I take away from the tax revelation:
— The Alternative Minimum Tax is a curse phrase for any individual or couple that reaches a modicum of success.
I’ll go to my accountant, Kathleen, and we’ll start calculating our IRS status. And we’ll reach a reasonable figure – until Kathleen says “Now we have to figure out AMT.” That’s when my checkbook twitches.
The idea behind AMT was to make certain that people who make a solid income pay a fair share of taxes.
And when you see the Trump return, you understand the logic of it.
If Trump didn’t pay $31 million in AMT, he would have paid less than 5% of the $152 million he claimed in income. And he paid less than 15% if you take into account the $103 million in business losses the supposedly great businessman claimed on his personal return.
I would take that deal in a heartbeat. I – and other people who make 2% or less of Trump’s gross income – should be able to take that kind of deal in a heartbeat.
Trump wants to abolish AMT. People like me usually cheer that idea. We shouldn’t. AMT should be reformed, not abolished, if only to hold accountable people who make more money in a year than I’ll make in 40 or more lifetimes.
I’m more than happy to pay my fair share in taxes. And I most certainly believe I should pay at a higher rate than someone making less than me.
But I should pay at a lower rate than a guy making 1,000 times my income.
— Is there any doubt in your mind that Trump is behind the reveal of this tax return?
Forget the “CLIENT COPY” stamp on the return. In the Trumpian mind, this return passes for doing civic duty. In his eyes, he paid $38 million in taxes on $49 million in income. That left him with a measly $11 million.
And it’s a distraction. Damn, I’m falling for it right now.
I’m not writing about the abomination of a Republican health care plan. I’m not writing about connections between Trump’s people and Russians. I’m not writing about how he plans to gut one of the cornerstones of America’s success in the past decade – the fuel-efficiency standards that have made U.S.-made vehicles competitive with those from other countries.
I guess I believe that other media will stay focused on the other pitches coming at them. The Times is leading with Republicans nervous about their health care debacle. The Washington Post is leading with the pending indictment of Russian government officials in the Yahoo hacking case. The WSJ is leading the Federal Reserve about to raise interest rates.
So I feel better.
4. All right, I’m biased. I’m proud of my CNN career and the folks I worked with proudly for 16 years.
So, full disclosure, you should keep that in mind as I complain about Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
Politically, I’m in sync with Ms. Maddow – much as I’m sure her audience is. I don’t have a beef with her opinions – I share most of them.
But the way she presented that tax return last night troubles me.
I understand that her show usually features a 15-minute open of her riffing on the story of the day. That’s fine – if you’re interested in that – when she’s not breaking news.
But to hold the reveal for as long as she did, and to find out it’s only the first two pages of the 2005 return, had to disappoint the thousands – if not millions – online who were expecting some great disclosure that unmasked the idiot in the White House.
Ms. Maddow oversold a story. I understand that – TV people need viewers.
But had she just broken the news at the open, and expounded on what she revealed later in the show, she would get more credit than she’s going to get now.
Especially if Trump is behind the reveal. The more she hyped it, the more she lets Trump come off as an aggrieved citizen whose private information lay naked before the wolves of the media. That’s a bunch of crap, but she opened herself to it.
Rachel Maddow’s fans are devoted to her. Just like Sean Hannity’s on Fox. And that’s the comparison to make. Both are amen corners for their followers, and they compromise any journalism they commit when they can’t stop themselves from preaching to the choir.
I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’ll deal with more personal matters later in the week.