B.B. Bell / September 29, 2020

Trump, Taxes, and Capitalism

Setting the record straight on taxes, free-market enterprise, and capitalism.

Well, here we go again. The Trump-hating New York Times has published what it claims to be excerpts and summations of President Donald Trump’s taxes. In doing this, the Times pushes the narrative that the president has unjustifiably paid little to no taxes over many years. Recall that President Trump already made clear — back in 2016 — that he had a $916 million business loss in 1995, and that loss carry-forward greatly reduced his tax liability. This is precisely the legal tax accounting standard available to all Americans.

But, according to the Times, for not paying his “fair share,” he should be punished and rejected by the American electorate — so goes the story.

Let’s set the record straight about taxes in America, free-market enterprise, and the beauty of capitalism. First and foremost, please know that it’s clear the Times and many on the Left view America’s magnificent free-market juggernaut with disdain and prefer a socialist model wherein the “state” determines who works where. Through state ownership of business (yes, in banana republics, they call this nationalism of corporations), the state gives everyone their so-called “fair share” only after the state extracts all profits for its use — most often to line the pockets of state bureaucrats and party members.

In socialist states, the proletariat trudges along mostly in poverty with little chance of advancement without the approval of the state. Individual incentive and entrepreneurship are always suppressed in socialistic societies. A quick review of the economic collapse in Bernie Sanders’s favorite “socialist utopia” of Venezuela is a case in point.

So, the Times is apparently saying, So much for individual incentive, entrepreneurship, and capital growth in America. This is where the Left wants to take America, and exploiting Trump’s taxes is a key step in achieving it.

Now, to Trump’s taxes specifically. First, please know that I have worked in the private sector only many years ago at an ESSO gas station pumping gas and as a floor laborer in a Coca-Cola plant — both before graduating from college and entering the military for what was to be a 39-year career. What I have done is served and fought for the preservation of our Constitution so that our free citizenry could participate in a free market. A free market where, through hard work, individual incentive, risk-taking, and investment, Americans can not only make money and provide for their families, they can also create jobs for others who can repeat the process themselves. Opportunity for movement up the ladder of success is unlimited. That’s the America I served and defended.

Our government has long held that there should be incentive for those willing to invest, take risks, create jobs, and build business enterprises. The government provides these free-market incentives in a variety of ways, the most important of which has always been tax incentives. By building businesses, creating jobs, and taking risks, entrepreneurs (for example, President Trump before his presidency) are encouraged to deduct selected amounts from income and taxes by investing in new equipment, infrastructure, providing employee investment and pension programs, medical insurance for employees, losses associated with business expenses, charitable contributions, etc. All these tax incentives are specifically provided by federal tax law to encourage business development, job growth, and wellness within our society. Bottom line: The government incentivizes tax deductions that are then plowed back into the marketplace by the entrepreneur. Thank goodness!

Frankly, I hope that if we someday see President Trump’s actual tax returns, they show that, in building businesses, creating jobs, and investing with risk and aggressiveness, he has done exactly what our tax laws incentivized him to do — reduce his taxes and pour that money back into the growth of his businesses with opportunity for his employees. Lower taxes are better in a free-market enterprise! By the way, I don’t want to see the president’s tax returns from his pre-presidency life. His returns are a private matter between a private citizen operating in the free market and the Internal Revenue Service. If the IRS finds impropriety, then it has the full weight of the government to rectify the situation. Trump’s pre-presidency taxes are none of my business.

In the end, it’s the same old story — leftists want higher taxes to then redistribute income as they see best, after lining their own pockets at your expense. They don’t care about economic growth or entrepreneurship. On the other hand, freedom-loving Americans want lower taxes and less government interference in their free-market enterprises. That’s what federal tax incentives are all about. That’s why they are the law.

If we fall for the Left’s argument that higher taxes are somehow better, then President Trump will for sure be the last businessperson to ever run for president of the United States successfully. According to the Left’s model, no successful businessperson can be president. Only career politicians and bureaucrats with law degrees will have that privilege, as no businessperson’s tax returns will ever pass muster. Is this really the America we want? God forbid!

We should celebrate Trump’s business and economic successes, the jobs he has created, and the opportunities he provided before his presidency. Give him four more years to work his magic. We will be a better America for it — our Constitution will be stronger, low unemployment will be our economic hallmark, millions of Americans will move up the ladder of success, and our incredible free-market economy will remain the envy of the world.

Gen. B.B. Bell (U.S. Army, retired) is a member of The Patriot Post’s National Advisory Committee.

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