Last night, in a party-line vote, the House of Representatives voted against forcing President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. 229 Republicans voted against the bill introduced by Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and all 185 House Democrats voted in favor.
Pascrell explained that he created the bill because, “The American people have the right to know whether or not their president is operating under conflicts of interest related to international affairs, tax reform, government contracts or otherwise”
In 2016 Trump became the first presidential candidate since the 1970s to not release his tax returns. His excuse was that they were under a routine audit, which tax authorities said has nothing to do with whether he can release them.
The charade was a deliberate manipulation of public information to prevent the American voters from being fully informed when they went to the polls. For the first time in forty years the public was unable to assess whether a major candidate paid his fair share of taxes or had disqualifying financial conflicts of interest.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made public nine years of her tax returns which prove that she and her husband routinely pay the highest tax rate. When Clinton talked about raising taxes on high earners, she was submitting herself to paying more into the system.
Trump obsessively talked about billionaires screwing over the little guy on the campaign trail, but he never proved that he isn’t one of those ultra-rich tycoons abusing the tax system and cheating hardworking middle and low income Americans.
Trump also promised repeatedly to release his tax returns. In 2011 Trump suggested that he would release his tax returns when then President Barack Obama released his birth certificate. Obama released his birth certificate, Trump did not release his tax returns. In 2014 Trump publicly stated, “If I run for president, I will absolutely release my taxes.” Then he launched his presidential campaign and still did not release his tax returns.
In 2015 Trump said, “I have no objection to showing any tax return.” Still not tax return.
After assuming office, Trump said that he would never release his tax returns because the American public “doesn’t care” about them. This is an interesting statement given the constant demands by undecided and critical voters throughout the campaign. Trump’s claim that private citizens didn’t care prompted protestors across America to insist that they care very much. Almost 1.1 million Americans signed a White House petition demanding the release of the tax returns.
The partisanship and cowardice that led nearly every House Republican to vote against seeing Trump’s tax returns is disgusting. They suspect, like every mildly informed American, that Trump has something to hide and they are unwilling to deal with the fall out because it might reflect poorly on themselves.
And so they become complicit in Trump’s deceit of their own constituents, the hardworking Americans that they are supposed to protect. When Trump inevitably falls, they all must fall.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.