OPINION: Gamesmanship Over Trump’s Taxes Isn’t Going Anywhere
On the same day that House Democrats issued a subpoena for the release of the full Mueller report and all of the underlying evidence, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the IRS demanding that the agency turn over President Trump’s personal tax returns from the past six years.
Both actions were transparently political maneuvers designed to launch fishing expeditions that Democrats hope will give them ammunition to use against Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election, but liberal lawmakers have sought to disguise them as part of the legitimate oversight function of Congress.
Chairman Neal, for instance, explained that his committee needs the president’s tax returns because he doesn’t trust the IRS to do its job properly.
“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal asserted in his letter. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”
In other words, Neal is suspicious that the IRS professionals who review tax documents for a living somehow overlooked the extremely basic question of whether a billionaire had concealed financial information on his tax returns.
Leaving aside the question of whether it is “necessary” for Congress to monitor how closely the IRS complies with an internal policy that isn’t even legally mandated, Neal’s demand left many Americans wondering why Democrats feel it’s so important that they review President Trump’s tax returns at all.
Thankfully, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) graciously took the time to answer that and other questions while struggling to assemble IKEA furniture in her ritzy D.C. apartment.
“The whole thing is that you need information, and this president is the first one in modern political history to not offer his tax returns for the American public to see while he was running,” AOC said, condescendingly adding, “What a lot of people don’t realize is how much of this stuff that presidents have done that have historically been custom, but should have actually been law.”
Voters obviously didn’t share that outlook in 2016, when they handed Donald Trump a historic election victory despite the fact that he had repeatedly declined to make his tax returns public. AOC, however, seems to think that they just didn’t appreciate the gravity of the matter.
In a rambling lecture peppered with “Valley Girl” upward inflections, AOC described tax return documents as something akin to a background check, suggesting that they present a clear and unambiguous picture of an individual’s most intimate financial dealings.
“[Y]our tax returns can really help you determine if you are compromised, financially, whether by a foreign actor, or even just a domestic one,” she eloquently explained. “Because if your taxes are all crazy … umm … it lets the public know, and it just puts an alert out to make sure you aren’t extorted for any reason … umm … did I do this wrong?”
Yes, Congresswoman, you did. Okay, so that final bit was referring to the table she was trying to assemble. But still.
The American people aren’t stupid. They know that tax returns offer only a limited scope of someone’s financial picture — certainly nothing as specific or subjective as declaring that a taxpayer has been “compromised” — and that any information they do contain can easily be distorted by partisan opponents.
The people also have a pretty good notion that if Democrats ever get their hands on Trump’s financial records, they’ll try to imply that just about every business dealing he has ever been involved in has “compromised” him in some way, regardless of whether those claims have any foundation in truth.
The American people are smart enough to understand the game that Democrats such as AOC and Richard Neal are playing. If they had any respect for people’s intelligence, they’d come up with better justifications for weaponizing the IRS to go after a political opponent.
Democratic leaders can be as condescending and disingenuous as they want, but President Trump’s record and relationship with the people will overcome their gamesmanship and fishing expeditions in the end.
Jason D. Meister (@Jason_Meister) is an Advisory Board Member of Donald J. Trump for President Inc.