Monday, March 06, 2017

Dems Look To The States To Force Trump To Release Taxes

(Cartoon image is by Kim Warp in New Yorker magazine.)

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to release his tax returns. First he said he would do it after his tax audit was over (even though there was no reason why that should have stopped him). Later, he said he would release the returns if he was elected. Well, it has been four months since he was elected and he still has not released any of his tax returns. In fact, White House aides have confirmed he going to break that campaign promise by not releasing any returns at all.

Trump says the public isn't interested in his tax returns. Not true. Poll after poll has shows that an overwhelming majority was him to release his tax returns. That doesn't seem to matter. Trump lives in a fantasy world of his own creation, and reality means nothing to him.

Congress has the authority to request those tax returns from the IRS, and they could then release tham. And the congressional Democrats have tried to go that route -- forcing a vote on requesting the Trump tax returns. But Congress is controlled by Republicans, and they voted against requesting the returns.

Now Democrats are trying something new to get the returns -- this time on the state level. They have introduced bills in at least 19 states that would force a presidential candidate to release his/her tax returns before they could get on the ballot. Many of those states will defeat those bills -- the ones controlled by Republicans -- but the bills stand a good chance of passing in other states like California, Oregon, New Jersey, New Mexico, Maryland, and Hawaii.

Trump has already indicated that he wants to run in 2020 (assuming he survives this term). If he does so, he may have to release his tax returns to get on the ballot in several states. That may or may not mean a lot in the Republican primary, but it could be devastating to be left off the ballot in some states in the general election.

Some right-wingers say such a law would not be constitutional, because states cannot add to the requirements in the Constitution to run for office. That argument is not really true. States already have added  requirements to run, like a filing fee or signatures on a petition. Would requiring the release of tax returns be any different?

It should be interesting to see how these bills fare.

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