On Friday, a group of 45 Senate and House Democrats put forward a bill that would require Republican President Donald Trump to disclose any financial interests that would be at stake before acting on trade matters.
While the bill is geared toward any sitting president, it is a direct response from Democrats to combat the numerous conflicts of interest President Trump brings to the table – conflicts Trump and his administration are working hard at keeping private.
“Americans have a right to know if the President is looking out for the good of the country or just his own bottom line when he negotiates a trade deal,” said Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, who helped write the Presidential Trade Transparency Act of 2017. “Trump has business interests around the world, but he continues to keep the full nature of those ties secret.”
Trump made a campaign promise that if elected he would share his tax returns with the American people and reveal his many international business dealings. But after the election, he announced he would not release his returns. His spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway claimed that the American people “don’t care” about Trump’s tax returns.
In reality, nearly 60% of voters want to see Trump’s tax returns, and Democrats actually listen to their constituents. The bill would essentially force Trump to release his tax returns, or at the very least, disclose the conflicts to the American people.
Democratic Massachusetts Senator Richard Neal added that “this bill would cement in law that Presidents must disclose all of their financial interests with countries that are involved in trade actions with the United States, a commonsense measure. We have to know that the interests of the American people and our country come first at all times, not just when it’s economically convenient or beneficial to a sitting President.”
While 45 Democrats have signed onto the bill, it’s worth noting that not a single Republican has co-sponsored, making the likelihood of it ever finding its way through the Senate and House floors unlikely.
Trump has insisted that the American people, despite polls to the contrary, don’t care about his tax returns. As the media calls for disclosure are ignored, it may come down to the citizens of the country pressuring their elected officials to push this bill through and dig to the bottom of just how much Trump is set to gain from his time in office.
Dan Arel is a bestselling author of The Secular Activist; and Parenting Without God. He is an award-winning journalist and host of the Danthropology Podcast.