Bernie sanders blasts Trump as corporate socialist over his tax returns

American taxpayers have paid nearly $1m to Trump properties during Mr Trump’s tenure, according to GAO reports.

Graig Graziosi
Monday 28 September 2020 21:07 BST
Senator Bernie Sanders accuses Donald Trump of being a "corporate socialist" after story details his tax filings
Senator Bernie Sanders accuses Donald Trump of being a "corporate socialist" after story details his tax filings (Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders accused Donald Trump of being a corporate socialist in the wake of revelations that allege he has been dodging paying federal income tax for years. 

The senator, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, made the comments on Twitter on Sunday.

"Shock of shocks! Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed billionaire, received a $72.9 million tax refund from the IRS while not paying a nickel in federal income taxes in 10 out of 15 years," Mr Sanders wrote. "Yep. Trump l-o-v-e-s corporate socialism for himself, rugged capitalism for everyone else."

On Sunday, The New York Times published a story revealing details of Mr Trump's tax history over the past twenty years.  

Included in the report are allegations - based on tax documents obtained by the Times - that the president only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, that he spent $70,000 to take care of his hair, that he pays more money in taxes to several foreign nations than he does to the country he leads and that he collected a $73m refund from the IRS after a years-long dispute, among other claims.  

Mr Sanders' criticism of Mr Trump is rooted in criticism that the relationship between corporations and the US government promote a "corporate socialism". In other words, thanks to US tax code, lobbying efforts, and the revolving door between the world of big business and Capitol Hill, corporations have been allowed to privatise their profits and socialise their losses.  

For example, many corporations will use lobbyists, legislation and lawsuits to undermine labor unions, strip away state and federal regulations, and then appeal to the government for bailouts when they fall on hard times.  

Arguably the most galling example of corporate welfare in the past 20 years is the $700bn bailout of the financial industry after banking institutions and corporate de-regulation campaigns helped create the 2008 financial crisis. Nearly 10 million Americans lost their homes during the financial crisis and 8.7 million lost their jobs.  

General Motors was saved from bankruptcy in 2009 thanks to a $49.5bn taxpayer funded bailout, and less than a decade later laid off more than 10,000 workers and shuttered plants in several North American cities while expanding its operations abroad.  

By the time GM had paid back what it was obligated to repay the US Treasury Department, the bailout had cost US taxpayers $10.6bn, since the federal government chose to float the company by buying its stock rather than saddling it with a debt.

More recently, some corporations - having benefitted for at least a year from Mr Trump's 2018 corporate tax cut - abused the Paycheck Protection Programme intended to help businesses with 500 employees or fewer retain their staff during the economic shut down caused by the coronavirus.    

House Democrats warned that tens of thousands of dollars given out by the PPP "could be subject to fraud, waste, or abuse" due to a lack of oversight by the Trump administration. The US Treasury and the US Small Business Association only committed to reviewing PPP loans of more than $2m, which accounts for only 0.6 per cent of the loans.  

According to The Daily Beast, a posh Los Angeles country club where Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin frequents received between $2m-$5m in PPP assistance, despite its parent company having more than 2,000 employees on staff.  

Since the start of the pandemic, Americans have been given a one-time check for $1,200. Many Americans report never having received the money. More than 20 million people have lost their jobs, and 40 million are at risk of losing their homes.  

In Mr Trump's case, he has not only managed to avoid paying taxes, but he has actively cost US taxpayers money throughout his presidency.  

A Washington Post story from May outlined how Mr Trump has cost American taxpayers nearly $1m through payments made to his properties.  

The payments cover more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump-owned properties, and an additional $340,000 spent on trips taken by the Trump family.  

The US Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2019 showing that just four trips Mr Trump took to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida cost federal agencies $13.6m. A website that uses federal data to track the president's golf outings estimates he has cost taxpayers approximately $141m just from his trips.

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