I won’t be voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November. I won’t be voting for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, either. I’m not sure who I’ll vote for, but I’m sure it won’t be either of those two. Still, I try to be fair-minded, and in my opinion Trump doesn’t completely deserve the hits he’s taking over two recent stories.
Story #1: According to Newsweek, one of Trump’s companies (Trump Hotels) violated the US government’s embargo on Cuba in 1998, reimbursing nearly $70,000 in expenses to two consultants who visited the island nation on the company’s behalf without permission from the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Story #2: According to the New York Times, Trump declared $916 million in losses on his 1995 federal income tax return. Depending on how much he earned in subsequent years, it’s possible that nearly two decades passed before he had to pay income tax again.
If not for one thing, Story #1 would improve my opinion of Trump dramatically. The US embargo on Cuba is an evil law which has helped keep the tyrannical Castro regime in power for half a century. Anyone who violates it is doing a heroic deed, striking a blow for freedom and for the Cuban people.
Unfortunately, Trump is inconsistent on this point. He recently stated an intention to “cancel” the progress US president Barack Obama has made toward opening up relations between the US and Cuba.
Story #2 also has an up side and a down side. I’m all for anyone and everyone avoiding every dime of tax possible, by any means they can find, legal or not. A dollar spent, saved or invested in the private sector is a good thing. A dollar given to the federal government is, at best, a dollar set on fire and flushed down the toilet. More usually, that dollar is used to actively harm the American economy and endanger American freedoms.
Unfortunately, Trump’s tax proposals don’t include repeal of the income tax. They tinker around the edges of the tax system, supposedly resulting in across-the-board cuts, but in a complicated enough way that it’s really hard to tell.
Bottom line: I heartily approve of the two things Trump is alleged to have done. Unfortunately, as a presidential candidate, he resembles Hillary Clinton in one significant respect: They both regard inconvenient laws as applicable only to the little people, not to wealthy and important political figures like themselves.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
- “Two Things That Don’t Really Bother Me About Trump, Two Things That Do,” by Thomas L. Knapp, OpEdNews, 10/04/16
- “Two Things That Don’t Really Bother Me About Trump, Two Things That Do,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 10/06/16
- “Two sides to two Trump stories,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Queens Examiner [New York City], 10/18/16
- “Two sides to two Trump stories,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Queens Ledger [New York City], 10/18/16
- “Two sides to two Trump stories,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Forest Hills/Rego Park New York Times, 10/18/16
- “Two sides to two Trump stories,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Greenpoint, New York Star, 10/18/16
- “Two sides to two Trump stories,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Brooklyn, New York Downtown Star, 10/18/16
Also published on Medium.