Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got a little confused about how his tax bill works and how people feel about it.

Today is the filing deadline for 2017 income tax returns. This appears to have been what prompted Trump to tweet this:

The bill Trump signed last December 22 has no effect on the 2017 returns people are filing this year. But even assuming Trump knows this, he's mistaken if he thinks that "everyone is talking" in positive terms about it. According to a recent poll, only 27% of Americans now approve of it, even lower than the 30% approval rating the bill had when Trump signed it.

Because the bill tweaked the tax brackets and withholding calculations, many Americans did see their take-home pay increase somewhat--for example, $1.50 per week, in the case of a school secretary that Paul Ryan inadvertently brought to light in a much-mocked tweet. But the economic reality of the cuts--where most of the benefits will go to extremely wealthy households, businesses of the types Trump owns, and foreign entities--seems to have sunk in.

Trump himself has not paid his 2017 taxes yet--assuming he owes any--having requested an extension. He continues to refuse to release his own tax returns, despite having repeatedly promised to do so if elected.

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents should know what the laws that they sign do.
  • Presidents cannot make things popular just by declaring them so.
  • It's bad to break promises.