Horowitz: Trump Has It Backwards on Releasing His Taxes

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™

Rob Horowitz
President Trump keeps insisting because he won the election without releasing his taxes, he shouldn’t have to release them, now that he occupies the oval office. He has it exactly backwards.

If Trump had lost, he would be back in private life and then his taxes would be between himself, his accountant, and the IRS.  As President, roughly 7-in-10 Americans, according to recent polling, still expect him to adhere to the bi-partisan tradition honored bye every one of his predecessors since Nixon, and make his income taxes public. Given his far-flung business empire, which presents many potential conflicts of interest, it is arguably far more important for Trump to release his taxes than it was for any previous President.

Trump’s all too familiar and still nonsensical response to the thousands of people in at least 150 cities throughout the nation who marched this past Saturday, calling on Trump to release his taxes, was essentially “I won; get over it.”  Trump tweeted, “I did what was almost an impossible thing to do for Republican-easily won the Electoral College. Wow Taxes are brought up again?  And in a follow-up tweet, he asserted that “someone  should look into who paid for the small organized rallies.”

President Trump didn’t even bother to trot out the threadbare excuse he used during the campaign: that he couldn’t release his taxes because he was being audited. Since all presidents’ taxes are automatically audited, the shelf life for that never truly credible reason has probably expired.

Trump and his spokespeople argue that people really don’t care if he releases his taxes or not.  It is the case, that there are issues of greater importance to voters. But this misses the point. A substantial majority of voters believe that President Trump is dishonest and his failure to release his income taxes, combined with his shifting ana unpersuasive reasons for not doing so, contributes to this impression.

He is also breaking one of the cardinal rules of effective and trust-building communication, which is to break the bad news yourself. There is a good chance that he will be required to supply his income taxes as the Congressional Investigations into Russian efforts to influence the election proceed.   The information contained in his taxes will seem much more explosive, if their release is forced. Voters will conclude that he was trying to hide something, even if there is not a lot of new information there.

Most importantly, releasing his taxes is the right thing to do.  President Trump should also reverse his ill-advised decision to stop releasing the logs of visitors to the White House.  As Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

  • Jennifer Duffy

    Cook Report

    "We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

  • Pam Gencarella

    Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

    "Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

    Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

  • Kay Israel

    Professor at Rhode Island College

    "With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

    The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

    For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

  • Jennifer Lawless

    Professor at American University

    "The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

    His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

  • Len Lardaro

    Professor at University of Rhode Island

    "Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

    I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

    A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

    That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
    The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

    Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."

  • Mike Stenhouse

    RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

    "As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

    Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

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