Maddow’s Big Trump Taxes Scoops Is A Big Nothingburger

by William Teach | March 15, 2017 8:11 am


In case you missed it, this is what Rachel Maddow stated before her show

BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.


— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017[2]

Well, for those who tuned in, they kept waiting[3], and waiting, and waiting. Till, finally, we got this

Trump made $150 million in 2005 and paid $38 million in federal taxes[4]

The White House said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes in 2005 — on $150 million in earnings — offering a small glimpse at the president’s personal finances, which Trump has so far kept almost entirely private.

The administration offered those details in a statement after journalist David Cay Johnston published two pages of tax information about the president, apparently from Trump’s 2005 return. The revelations were simultaneously broadcast on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow” show, which included an interview with Johnston. Based on the information on the two pages, Trump paid an effective tax rate of about 25 percent.

So, that’s it? There were no details, just the overview. He took a $100 million loss, he itemized, he used the tax deductions that Democrats and Republicans wrote into law. The Trump admin released the tax forms prior to Maddow’s “big release”, along with a statement

WH responds to MSNBC report on Trump tax returns: "you know you are desperate when you willing to violate the law…"[5]

— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 15, 2017[6]

Chris Cillizza, no big Trump fan, has seemed to get tired of the Democrat apoplexy over nothingburgers as of late, and called this a total nothingburger[7]

In short: We didn’t learn anything we don’t already know about Trump. Yes, he is very wealthy. Yes, he — like virtually all very wealthy people — looks for holes in the tax code to lower his overall taxable income. (Sidebar: As a non-wealthy person, I do the same thing.)

For all the hoopla surrounding the unearthing of these documents, there simply was no smoking gun — or anything close to it — here. A brief scan of Trump’s financial status a decade ago shows, roughly, what you would expect it to show. Nothing nefarious, nothing untoward.

In fact, President Obama typically paid a lower net effective tax rate. For his 2015[8] return, he and Michelle paid an 18.7% rate. Then yammered on about people needing to pay their fair share, after taking all the deductions embedded in law. The Bidens paid 23.3%, still less than Trump.

And that pattern continued for all Obama’s returns during his time in office, and his returns released as he was running for office.

Doug Powers[9] notes that even Bernie Sanders paid a lower effective rate[10].

Perhaps Rachel Maddow could share her 1040, and let us see her effective rate. She reportedly is paid $7 million a year.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove[11]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[12].

  1. [Image]:
  2. March 14, 2017:
  3. waiting:
  4. Trump made $150 million in 2005 and paid $38 million in federal taxes:
  6. March 15, 2017:
  7. total nothingburger:
  8. 2015:
  9. Doug Powers:
  10. Bernie Sanders paid a lower effective rate:
  11. Pirate’s Cove:
  12. @WilliamTeach:

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