Monday, April 29, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He told the state of New York they should have fought harder against his tax bill.

While the overtly illegal help Trump got from Russia in the 2016 election has gotten the most attention, he was also boosted by record sums of money from the National Rifle Association—in spite of the fact that Trump's prior positions on guns were far less conservative than almost any other Republican candidate's. (The fact that the NRA was infiltrated by a pro-Trump Russian spy, since convicted in federal court, may have had something to do with it.)

So it wasn't too surprising that Trump—who just addressed the group last week—felt he had to intervene in an unfolding catastrophe in the NRA, which is in the process of tearing itself apart with lawsuits over internal charges of fraud and incompetence

But his two-tweet message was a bit muddled. On the one hand, he acknowledged that the NRA needed to "get its act together quickly, stop the internal fighting"—in other words, exactly the sort of thing that had triggered a New York state investigation into the organization. But he also said that state officials were acting "illegally" by investigating the organization, which is chartered in the state.

In reality, it is not illegal for New York law enforcement agencies to investigate potential crimes committed in New York by or against New York nonprofits. Trump himself learned this when his fake charity was forced to dissolve after it admitted that it had committed crimes on Trump's behalf.

But Trump also, for some reason, attacked state officials because they supposedly "didn’t even put up a fight against SALT," a battle he said they "could have won."

SALT refers to the cap that Trump's 2017 tax bill put on deductions for state and local taxes. It meant that taxpayers in states like New York with higher state tax rates, or local income taxes like New York City's—most of which didn't give their electoral votes to Trump—would get tax increases relative to residents of other states.

In other words, whether or not he realizes it, Trump is saying that his tax policy was a bad idea and it's New York's fault he was able to impose it on them.

How is this a bad thing?

  • The president doesn't get to put his political supporters above the law.
  • It's not illegal for law enforcement to enforce the law.
  • A policy the president thinks people should "put up a fight" against is probably one he shouldn't be trying to make law in the first place.