Donald Trump has created an image of himself as the best businessman in the world – albeit one who pays no taxes while expecting everybody else to do so, and excoriating them if they do not. While nobody said you can’t be a good business man while still being a hypocrite, is Trump really a good businessman?
It does not appear so. Not only did he lose almost a billion dollars in 1995, at a time when the economy was really doing rather well – despite Trump’s claims to the contrary – but as Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald reveals in his latest bombshell, Trump would have gone belly up even earlier had not his father bailed him out.
It is well known by now that his father bankrolled Trump’s rather uninspiring rise to fame, and by a lot more than Trump is willing to admit, as Hillary Clinton helpfully reminded him in the first presidential debate. But it turns out Trump’s fumbling is nothing new, or even unusual:
All of the tax information that has been publicly revealed — The Washington Post published figures for 1978 and 1979 in May, Politico reported in June he had paid no taxes in 1991 and 1993, The New York Times published 1995 information last week and further information from the 1970s show the same thing: Trump paying little or no taxes because of poor financial performance and huge mistakes he made in his business. Trump has steadfastly refused to release any tax returns on his own, but the headline numbers for the eight years of financial returns that have now been disclosed demonstrate that Trump’s self-celebrated business genius is a pose.
The facts reveal, says Eichenwald, a Trump “unable to control his spending,” loading “himself up with debt from the credit line in an apparent belief that he could make enough money through other deals and investments to cover the interest payments.” We have often referred to Trump’s life as a shell game, and this appears to be exactly what it is.
Think in terms of what Trump says he can do for the United States economy if elected president, and then at what Eichenwald reveals of Trump’s true economic “genius”:
“In 1978, the same year that Fred Trump set up the credit line for his son at Chase Manhattan, Trump’s personal finances collapsed. By then, he had borrowed $38 million from his line of credit—the bank adjusted the available amount up by $3 million when Trump exceeded his credit limit.”
It is difficult to make the case from this that Trump is a good, let alone, great, businessman. It is no wonder Trump us using other peoples’ money to buy himself nice things and settle lawsuits: he has none of his own. Eichenwald reveals:
Moreover, the tax records show that, even in the years leading up to Trump’s first big losses, Trump’s personal income failed to rise above the level of comparatively minuscule. He reported $76,210 in income to the Internal Revenue Service for 1975; $24,594 in 1976; and $118,530 in 1977. In other words, his losses in 1978 totaled almost twice his combined income from 1975 through 1977. His 1979 losses were 15 times his combined income for those three years.
As an aside, The Washington Post reminded us earlier this year that “The Wall Street Journal reported that a 1985 casino-license document showed that Donald Trump owed his father and father’s businesses about $14 million.”
That’s $31 million in today’s money. Trump says this was a “very small loan.”
Even then banks would not lend him money, so his dad had to bail him out. Trump has bragged that “I fought back, and I won big league,” but it is clear that this man who spends recklessly, loses big, fails to pay his debts, uses other peoples’ money to buy himself nice things, and has to cover his debts by borrowing ever more money, is neither self-made nor competent.
This questionable business acumen brings us to a suitable epithet for Trump’s life:
“So Trump took the same route he did for the rest of that decade and in decades to come: He borrowed more to keep himself afloat.” Or, put another way, as Eichenwald tweeted, “So Donald Trump lost more than $50mm of daddy’s money by the age of 33. Born on 3rd base, stranded on 1st.”
Though as The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler said back in March, “A big part of Donald Trump’s mythology is that he built a real estate empire by himself,” he is not, as Eichenwald concludes, “a self made man.”
In fact, Donald Trump is self-made in one way only: as a myth developed around Trump’s worship of himself, an illusion he now wants you to believe as well, despite all the facts to the contrary.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.