Counterpoint: No need to pound the table

By Randall Poulton | May 16, 2019

There is an old adage, when the facts are on your side, pound the facts! When the law is on your side, pound the law! When neither is on your side, pound the table! During my counterpoint, there will be no need to pound the table.

In this case, the governing law is the Constitution of the United States of America, specifically Article II, Section 1, paragraph six. In describing the qualifications to be president of the United States, of which there are three, and only three, the Constitution says: you must be: “a natural born Citizen”, “attained to the Age of thirty five years” and “been fourteen years a Resident within the United States.” There is no mention of releasing tax returns or hair color!

Now, over the years, certain “norms” have evolved. With rare exception, to be president, you must be an old white man. Let’s hope this norm soon goes by the wayside.

Now, on to the facts.

Did Trump promise to release his taxes? Yes, he did. But, he also left himself some wiggle room when he said he would not do so while he was under audit. Slimy — but a lie? I don’t think so. Even if yes — so what? Politicians lie.

I seem to remember some serious presidential whoppers like: “Read my lips — no new taxes,” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” These lies were followed by real consequences: higher taxes, impeachment and the mess called Obamacare (which every single Democratic candidate for president now promises to fix).

I fail to see how Trump’s past financial gains and losses will impact me today or tomorrow.

Can the Democrats force Trump to turn over his tax returns? I doubt it. But, on page 3,158 of the huge and complicated IRS code, section 6103(f) does say: ”… the Secretary (of the Treasury) shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.” So maybe the Democrats have a case.

But the Trump administration says there needs to be legit grounds for Congress to see a taxpayer’s tax return. Nothing will happen on this for months or years, and, even if the Democrats win in court, you and I will never see Trump’s tax returns. Talk about a waste of time!

Specifically, to Mr. Brower’s points:

First: I agree politicians should not personally benefit from decisions they make while in office. Each year, every president, and many other officeholders, must fill out an extensive financial disclosure. You can peruse Trump’s 2017 form OGE278e online. It is 92 pages long and, unless he is lying, his income was astronomical! He lists 201 sources. Among the biggies are his golf courses: $75 million from Doral, $25 million from Mar-a-Lago and $20 million from Turnberry. Trump also owns a lot of stock in Apple, Caterpillar and Microsoft.

On the other side of the ledger, his liabilities are certainly “bigly.” Trump’s form OGE278e also includes another piece of information: On the day of his inauguration, Trump resigned his leadership position in 596 companies. Did you know that?

Second: I do think Trump “puts his money where his mouth is.” Trump has donated his entire presidential salary to various causes, including combating opioid addiction, a camp promoting STEM careers, and restoration projects at the Antietam National Battlefield. These generous donations get zero press coverage. And, according to his 2005 tax return (the one that was mysteriously leaked to the media), Trump paid $38 million in taxes for that one year! That is bigly taxes to go with his big mouth!

Third: I would support a new law that requires all future presidents to release their tax returns during their years in office. But that may require a constitutional amendment, and we have not ratified one of those since 1992.

Fourth: Is Trump a crook? Well, I don’t think so. And, apparently, Trump has also convinced the IRS that his business dealings are legal (they, after all, DO have his tax returns!).

What I find most unfortunate is that Congress is wasting valuable time chasing Trump’s tax returns while our country’s real problems go wanting. And, that is enough to make me want to pound the table!

Randall Poulton is a columnist for these newspapers. He lives in Winterport.

Comments (16)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 22, 2019 05:21

Southerners don't recognize "C" in our vocabulary. We automatically substitute a "K", like in Ken.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 21, 2019 13:39

One last point. It's small but annoying to some.

It's SCIF not SKIF.

Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility


Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 21, 2019 13:29

You know what Eric? I knew you have absolutely no interest in anything other than the myths you firmly believe in. Any facts or data to counter is rejected out of hand and labeled fake.

I’ll still be here Wednesday Nov 4th 2020. It will be interesting to see what your reactions will be if Trump loses “bigley”. As it stands right now he’s not doing so well.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 21, 2019 13:05

"The Donald gets another 4 years. Then Pence for another 8 years and his VP running mate for another 8 years. Wow, 20 total years,"


Delusional from any political standpoint.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 21, 2019 10:56

To Ken Riley and Ron Horvath. I love to see you guys spin your wheels. I would recommend that you both better get your walking shoes out of mothballs and hit the campaign trail for anyone of the 23+ clowns. How about De Blasio? Now there's a standup guy. We'll all have a good laugh on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 2020 when The Donald gets another 4 years. Then Pence for another 8 years and his VP running mate for another 8 years. Wow, 20 total years, so it won't make any difference because your heroine, AOC, says we only have 12 more years. Enjoy it while you can.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 21, 2019 07:41
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | May 21, 2019 06:48

Is this the economy you're bragging about, Eric?  That Dunning-Kroeger thing is getting serious with you, isn't it.


"Slow income growth has been the weakest part of the US economy in its recovery from the Great Recession. Wages have barely kept up with the cost of living, even as the unemployment rate dropped and the economy expanded."


"Farmers and business owners' reluctance to invest in farming equipment has resulted in a $900 million annualized spending drop, Bloomberg reports.


The big picture: This is the steepest decline in farm equipment purchases in 3 years. In February, federal data showed that U.S. farmers in the Midwest were filing for bankruptcy protection at levels the country had not seen for approximately a decade. Last year, farm profits sunk to $69.4 billion — that's half of 2013's $136.1 billion in profits, per Bloomberg. President Trump's trade wars have contributed to the ongoing nosedive in prices and decrease in profits for farmers.


"Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell says that the the “growth of economic activity has slowed.” The usually optimistic International Monetary Fund projects US economic growth will drop to 1.8 percent in 2020—despite trillion-dollar annual deficits and the Fed putting off any more interest rate hikes for the rest of the year. If Powell and the projections are right, the long recovery that began after the Obama administration saved an economy that was in free fall is nearing its end. "

"...  the average weekly pay has grown less than 1 percent per year for the decade. Low-wage workers’ hourly pay in 2017 barely surpassed what they earned in 1979, while that of high-wage workers has increased nearly 50 percent. Inequality is at extremes not seen since 1928. "

while incomes have stagnated, key costs have soared. Health care remains remarkably expensive; millions go without insurance or are underinsured. Gallup reports that since Trump took office, the number of Americans without health insurance has increased by a stunning 7 million. "


"MOLINE, Illinois- Farmers in the Midwest are going bankrupt faster than during the 2008 recession.
A spokesperson for the National Farmers Union says prices will likely continue to drop for years to come because of the U.S. losing its reputation as a reliable trading partner."


But we all know who is profiting the most, don't we, Eric?


"The biggest winner from Donald Trump's clampdown on Iranian oil exports is Vladimir Putin and Russia. That much became clear even before Secretary State Mike Pompeo made the official announcement early Monday. Crude oil prices, already up 44% this year, jumped nearly 3% more.  Within minutes after the move became known, oil prices began to spike—a boon for Russia, one of the world's largest oil suppliers.

With Russia producing some 11 million barrels of oil a day, each dollar increase in the price per barrel of crude oil adds at least $4 billion to the Russian economy each year . Moreover, Russia ran a budget surplus last year that was close to 3% of its GDP, higher than forecast, as Russia's Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin told the Financial Times in December. It was the first such annual budget surplus since 2011."


Well, as long as it's good for trump, right?

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 21, 2019 04:27

WOW! Can't believe the difference in Mr. Brower's article and comments and Mr. Poulton's. One leaves me with HOPE and the other with a sour taste in my mouth.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 20, 2019 19:35

Oh Ken, are you implying that Obummer had anything to do with our economy now? Remember the 780 billion dollar Stimulus package that they wasted on shrimp walking on a treadmill. And all those shovel ready jobs that Obummer got a good laugh with Jeff Immelt from GE that never existed. Then, the famous recession was declared over by none other than Joe " the stimulus sheriff" Biden, who wasn't going to let a dollar get wasted. The 8 lost years of Obummer with be a lost footnote in history and thank God we found a way to survive it until The Donald came to save us from the corruptocrats.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 20, 2019 11:45

"I'll take a booming economy, historic record low unemployment, virtually no inflationary pressure, record low mortgage rates and of course, the death blow to Obamacare, all accomplished in 2 1/2 years"


All within 11 years. There I fixed it for you

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | May 20, 2019 06:59

Again;  Keep lying to yourself, Eric.  It will ease your pain when all of trump's criminal charges come home to roost.


As for Benghazi:

Benghazi Investigation:


72 months long.


0 indictments.


0 guilty pleas.


Hillary Clinton testified for eleven hours.


Russia Investigation:


14 months long.


23 indictments.


5 guilty pleas and prison sentences


Donald Trump testified for zero hours.


Trump Foundation - shut down for fraud.


Trump University - shut down for fraud.


17 open investigations for corruption.


And in case you've conveniently forgotten, trump's lawyers wouldn't let him testify because they couldn't trust him to tell the truth.  Just like the rest of us, right?

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 19, 2019 16:23

I can't wait to see all your Democrat buddies get perp walked after Barr and Dunham gets done with them. I'll take a booming economy, historic record low unemployment, virtually no inflationary pressure, record low mortgage rates and of course, the death blow to Obamacare, all accomplished in 2 1/2 years. I long for the good ole days when Obama gave us truths like you can keep your health insurance, your doctor and your premiums will drop $ 2500/year. All lies. And the lies of Fast & Furious and Benghazi that got our best and brightest killed. Can't wait to see who of the 23+ clowns will emerge to get totally steamrolled by the Donald. It's going to be so much fun to watch. Popcorn anyone?

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | May 19, 2019 09:04

Keep lying to yourself, Eric.  That way when you come up against the truth you'll never know what hit you.


“The more extreme and outrageous the totalitarian ideology, therefore, and the more devoid of practical political sense, the more ineluctable its appeal. Totalitarian rule is predicated on the assumption that proving that a thing is true is less effective than acting as though it were true.” -Hanna Arendt



Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 19, 2019 07:29

Ronald Horvath apparently has some serious time on his hands. "According to the Washington Post". Nobody can seriously believe anything that comes out of that rag owned by Bezos. AKA Washington Compost. Only 10,111? You missed one!

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | May 18, 2019 10:03

Cherry picking your own "facts", Randall, doesn't make your argument right.

Is trump a liar?  Really?  Do we even have to ask.

"...  Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with reality, but the full extent of his use of alternative facts has now been laid bare. He made 10,111 false of misleading claims in 828 days as president, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper's Fact Checker reckons the rate of his lies has picked up dramatically over the past couple hundred days. It took him 601 days to get to 5,000 false and misleading claims, which worked out at an average of eight claims a day. But just 226 days later he crossed the 10,000 mark—an incredible average of nearly 23 false claims a day. He managed to rack up 171 false or misleading claims in just three days between April 25-27—higher than in any single month in the first five months of his presidency."

And does trump "put his money where his mouth is?" Well, just maybe he's spending more tax dollars on himself than his paltry "contributions" can justify.

"...  the cost of the President’s trips to his private Florida resort over the course of four years...  the $600 million security arrangements for Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits are estimated to cost the taxpayer over the course of his term.

According to CBS News, the President spent every weekend of his first 33 days in office at the Palm Beach estate - for which security is estimated to have cost $10 million."

"Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money."

And, Is trump a crook?  You bet.  Maybe you should ask the former "students" of trump university, a particularly foul deal in which trump made $175 million while paying off only $25 million to escape prosecution.  Of course there's more.  It's called selling influence.

"Since their arrival in Washington, the president and Javanka have been reaping profits from the various family businesses in tandem with their public service, while cynically pretending they have suspended their wheeling and dealing... Trump International Hotel is doing brisk business, its lobby always full of White House favour-seekers, its pricey rooms often filled with industry executives and lobbyists. The hotel is siphoning business from other local hotels and convention centres, according to the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland, which have both filed lawsuits. The Justice department, unsurprisingly, has defended the president’s continuing role as a hotelier, but a federal judge on Monday sharply criticised the department’s legal reasoning. The case is probably heading for the US supreme court."

"A new survey from Quinnipiac University asked: "Do you think that President Trump committed any crimes before he was president, or don't you think so?"


"Sixty-four percent responded that yes, they thought Trump had committed crimes...  Further, when asked if they thought President Donald Trump committed any crimes since taking office, 45 percent said they thought he had, while 43 percent said they thought he had not.  In general, folks didn't seem to trust Trump.

"New evidence of possible tax-law violations by President Trump’s inaugural committee has emerged...  According to Pro Publica, the committee potentially paid a far-above-market rate for event space at the Trump International Hotel...  Tax law prohibits nonprofits from paying inflated prices to groups that are owned by people who also influence the nonprofit’s activities.

“Every legitimate nonprofit is very concerned with this,” said Doug White, a veteran adviser to tax exempt organizations, speaking generally. “You’re benefiting a private person, and you’re using the nonprofit to do it.” Trump’s inaugural committee spent more than $100 million—almost twice the amount spent on the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, the next-most expensive inaugural party. "

"In the Trump era, politicians wanting an endorsement from the President apparently have a new way to get it: book an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“Trump endorsements follow in the wake of candidates spending money at his properties,” a report from Fast Company, shows eight GOP politicians or PACs associated with them have held events or spent money at Trump properties, usually his D.C. hotel – which were followed with endorsements from President Trump.

“It raises the specter that the president is essentially enriching himself by virtue of his position,”
Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) told Fast Company.”

Of course trump has his party running interference for him as well.

"The sweeping anti-corruption, democracy reform bill passed by Democrats in the House last week included measures to prevent foreign money from influencing future elections, but every single House Republican voted against the bill.

Christian Science Monitor reported on Monday that the Democrats’ bill, H.R.1, was meant to address “an urgent need to close loopholes that could allow foreign money to surreptitiously influence American voters, citing in particular a Kremlin-linked company that bought divisive Facebook ads and a Trump administration tax rule change last summer that could allow illegal foreign donors to evade detection.”


There's more, of course.  With trump there's always more.

“Ever since Trump and his family arrived in Washington they have essentially hung a for-sale sign on the White House by refusing to meaningfully separate themselves from their own business interests,” Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien notes. “That’s certainly not lost on the companies that do business in or with Washington. They know that in Trump’s swamp, you pay to play.”

" If the GOP base persists in blinding itself to the unethical people who trade on their relationships with the current president, America will continue to be sold out by the very faction that swore it would make it great again.”

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 18, 2019 07:39

Great Counterpoint article. Reade Brower needs to spend more time on Maine issues that affect all of our lives, like why is there so much opposition to the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) or who sets priorities in the DOT that results in large stretches of US1 looking like a 3rd world country or why the citizens need 151 legislators covering 16 counties for a whopping 1.33 million people. Regarding Trumps' tax returns. Release the 6 years that they want but ONLY the chairman of the judicial committee, No Neck Nadler, can see them in a SKIF in the Treasury Dept. No help from his ambulance chasing committee lawyers, no other committee members. BTW, the returns don't have to be in any particular order. He'll be there for the next 50 years.

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