TRUMP’S TRIPS AND TAXPAYER TOLERANCE: A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS

A friend of mine raised the questions in an email: “How much does it cost to fly that huge jet to Florida every weekend?  This guy spends too much of your money and my money and for what?  How does a citizen demand an accounting for this bullshit travel cost?”

So I decided to look into this, and it turns out that Trump is not only our Top Tweeter, he’s our Spender-in-Chief.  According to the Washington Post (March 4, 2017), “By one estimate the president has already rung up as much in travel costs as the Obama and Biden families did in eight years – all at the expense of taxpayers.”  That estimate takes in both security and travel expenses including trips to Trump’s weekend jaunts to his Florida resort, voyages by his children and their protection to a number of foreign countries on family business, and what it takes to safeguard the high-rise Trump Tower “where Trump’s wife and youngest child live but where the real estate mogul himself has not set foot since becoming president.”

The Hypocrite-in-Chief used to tweet his outrage about how “President Obama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars – Unbelievable!”  That was in 2012.  Two years later, Citizen Trump proclaimed “Obama’s motto” as being: “If I don’t go on taxpayer funded vacations & constantly fundraise then the terrorists win.”

For comparison purposes, the travel expenses for Obama averaged only $12.1 million during each year he was president.  Add up the tab for Trump’s first three sojourns to his Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach since taking office – approximately $10 million from the federal treasury.  How about a million of us tweeting – “Unbelievable!”  My friend suggests, “If the people who voted for him love him that much, they should all chip in $5 per trip to send his ass to Florida weekly.  Then the rest of us can afford health care.”

But this doesn’t even count Florida county officials intending to seek reimbursement of expenses for all those deputies to deal with added security and traffic whenever The Donald comes to town.  The New York Times reports it costs $60,000 every day to pay overtime to the sheriff’s deputies standing at the numerous closed roads.

We could simply point out that the presidential weekend retreat at Camp David is a short ride by helicopter from the White House.  Or Trump could choose another less extravagant travel plan – to his golf course in Northern Virginia.

Meantime, New York police officials have calculated that the total cost of guarding Melania and Barron at Trump Tower could hit $183 million annually.

As the Washington Post also points out: “For Trump, the costs come with an additional perk: Some of the money flows into his own pocket.  While Trump has removed himself from managing his company, he has refused to divest his ownership, meaning that he benefits from corporate successes such as government contracts.”

Go figure: both the Defense Department and Secret Service are looking to rent space in Trump Tower.  Leasing a single floor there can cost $1.5 million for the year.

Then there are the Trump sons, Eric and Donald Jr., who are busily cutting business deals overseas on our dime.  Well, a bit more than a dime.  Eric’s trip to Uruguay to examine progress on a yet-unfinished Trump Tower cost us close to a hundred grand in hotel bills alone.   The Trump boys have also private-jetted over to Dubai to cut the ribbon for a new golf course of Dad’s in Dubai and to Vancouver for the opening of Dad’s new luxury hotel.  They get round-the-clock Secret Service protection, of course.  But have you heard either son bring up the possibility of paying their own bills while conducting private business?

Before his inauguration, Trump had vowed to put all his assets into a trust – a self-constructed border wall between himself and all those businesses that made him rich.  It got set up all right, legally controlled by oldest son Donald Jr. and one of the company employees.  Except, as was reported in another Washington Post article a month ago, documents filed with the board overseeing liquor licenses at Trump’s D.C. hotel reveal that the purpose of the trust is “to hold assets for the exclusive benefit of Donald J. Trump” who “has the power to revoke the Trust” anytime.

Those assets are only going to skyrocket.  Apparently, the Trump boys got inspired while visiting all those new locations with Dad on the campaign trail.  Now they’ve decided to start a more affordable hotel chain called Scion.  (One definition of “scion” is “a descendent of a wealthy family.”  Another is “a young shoot or twig of a plant, especially one cut for grafting or rooting.”  I personally suspect the children were thinking of “grafting.”)  Anyway, Vanity Fair reports, “The Scion project is set to begin new buildings in cities like Austin, Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville and Seattle – cities in which the Trumps met many potential development partners over the course of their campaign.”

One solution for business-as-usual was proposed in a column that appeared in Time Magazine back on December 6, 2016.  The author was Mark Weston, and the headline read: “65 Million Americans Should Threaten to Not Pay Taxes.”  Weston was writing about how Trump had lost the popular vote by some three million citizens, so he raised the old “no taxation without representation!” idea.

He wrote: “Is signing a pledge to not pay taxes legal?  Yes, if no overt act of conspiracy is involved, and the pledge itself is hypothetical.  No one knows when or if it would be carried out….How would the pledge work?  First, an online group such as MoveOn.org, Change.org, or both should circulate a petition….Second, the pledge should only apply to federal taxes.”  And we’d still calculate what we owe the feds, “file a form 1040 and write a check to a national escrow account, preferably in a well-established Canadian or British bank that is beyond the reach of the U.S. Justice Department….In the check’s memo line, people should write ‘Funds to be transferred to the IRS as soon as America resumes being a democracy.’”

Weston’s raison d’etre was to get rid of the antiquated Electoral College.  But we could add a few more lines: “No Taxation Without Seeing Trump’s Returns!”  And “No Taxation While Trump’s Trust Is Tolerated!”

Or maybe “No Taxation While Trump Tweets!”

 

 

 


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