Donald Trump is a brilliant businessman. Just ask him. In his mind he’s some sort of business genius. But the more we find out about Trump and his finances, the more he looks like cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, who called himself a “super genius” but wasn’t nearly as clever as the roadrunner.
On Saturday The New York Times broke the story of Trump’s 1995 tax return, which reveals that the real estate mogul claimed a loss of almost $1 billion. Most of the coverage so far has focused on what that claimed loss may have meant for his tax bill in future years. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that The Donald has been able to avoid paying a good chunk of his taxes thanks to that loss, but since we don’t have any other tax documents to go on, we don’t know for sure.
What we do know for sure is the man who wants the world to think he is one of the most astute businessmen in history claimed a loss approaching a billion dollars during a huge economic boom.
Trump has promised to do wonderful things for the country and the economy if he is elected. And he loves to talk about creativity and innovation, as he does in this answer to a question posed by ScienceDebate.org:
“Innovation has always been one of the great by-products of free market systems. Entrepreneurs have always found entries into markets by giving consumers more options for the products they desire.”
Real innovators and entrepreneurs made millions during the 1990s as an economic revival swept the country. And Trump? He was busy overseeing the collapse of his casinos and his airline. So much for his record as a great economic visionary.
In 1995, the year for which Trump declared his record loss, GDP growth was over four percent. Yet Trump was seemingly unable to take advantage of the favorable economy to mitigate his losses. The tax document obtained by The New York Times shows business income of just shy of $3.5 million. Many of us would love to have income of over $3 million, but for someone in Trump’s position that’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket. Compare what was going on with Trump to what the 1990s looked like for billionaire Warren Buffett, who was raking in money hand over fist.
Or take true visionary entrepreneur Bill Gates. In 1995, the same year as Trump’s monumental loss, Gates was once again on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, with a total net worth of $14.8 billion. According to Forbes, Gates’ worth had increased from $2.5 billion just five years before.
So real innovators, real visionaries like Gates and Buffett took advantage of the economic climate during the Clinton years to build on already sizable fortunes. And Trump? The man who wants the key to the U.S. Treasury couldn’t find a way to make money during the best economy the U.S. has ever seen.
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