The New York Times lashed out hard at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the weekend with a report claiming his 1995 tax returns suggest he may have used a massive loss that year to avoid paying income taxes for the next 18 years. But back in 1995, the paper was crowning Trump as “the Comeback King” for overcoming massive debt to save his business.
“Though there are still four years to go in the 90’s, business and government leaders in New York honored Donald J. Trump yesterday for pulling off what they called ‘the comeback of the decade,'” the paper said at the time. “Mr. Trump, the developer who came to epitomize opulent wealth during the 80’s before tumbling into deep financial trouble, has managed to erase much of his debt and is moving ahead with major projects at a time other developers are idling.”
The Times noted that at a low point in 1991, Trump and his companies carried so much debt he was effectively worth -$1 billion in 1991. But thanks in part to renegotiation with some of his lenders, Trump clawed his way back.
“[Now,] he continues to pursue the trademark trophy-style projects he is known for, such as a hotel and condominium project on the southwest corner of Central Park that is expected to open by late 1996,” the paper said.
Today, though, the notion of Trump as comeback king is long gone, and the Times is instead vilifying Trump for using his massive business losses as a tax write-off, allowing him to pay the IR what the law required him to and no more. In the words of the Times, Trump’s adherence to U.S. tax law “relieve[d] him of the burden of paying taxes like everyone else.”
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