Earlier this week the New York Times managed to get a hold of copies of Trump’s IRS transcripts spanning nearly a decade from 1985 to 1984. These transcripts-which are not Trump’s full tax returns-showed that President Trump lost nearly $1 billion and was able to write off the losses to the point where Trump paid no income taxes.
Naturally, the New York Times and the Left as a whole attempted to use these “revelations” to build the narrative that President Trump was actually a terrible businessman. The Times and the Left willfully ignored the fact that there was a real estate crash in 1987 that was at least as bad as the one we saw in 2008.
The Times attempted to treat the news of the state of Trump’s taxes 30 years ago as a shocking secret that came to light against President Trump’s wishes. President Trump, the narrative went, had attempted to keep these documents hidden. It was only through the investigative abilities of the intrepid reporters at the Times that allowed these facts to come to light.
A few minutes of actual journalism on the part of the Times would have shown that President Trump was actually quite candid about his losses during this time period. In fact, President Trump talked openly about his financial troubles in the 80s and 90s during an episode of his hit show The Apprentice back in 2004.
In other words, the New York Times had been scooped over 15 years ago by the very man they claimed was “hiding” the fact that he had lost billions during a very difficult financial period.
You can be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu if you’ve read the news or watched television the last few days. In fact, the whole argument of Trump being a less than stellar businessman is nothing more than the resurrection of an old attack from the 2016 campaign. Back then the Left dutifully attempted to use President Trump’s numerous bankruptcies from his decades in business as proof that he was nothing more than a bumbling idiot.
I took the Left to task in one of my first columns for Sparta Report titled “I Wish I Could Fail As Hard As Donald Trump.” The column was written as a conversation between a random “Never Trump” Leftist and myself. I argued that President Trump’s record of failure was outweighed by his very real accomplishments.
Here is an excerpt from a three year old column that has suddenly become relevant again:
FIRST OF ALL, yeah Donald Trump got much of his start up capital from his father. The elder Trump gave his son a loan of $1 million, and helped him secure loans from various other sources that totaled $100 million. You know what Donald Trump did with that money? He built a real estate empire in Manhattan. He bought casinos and hotels all over the world. Donald Trump took those loans and literally turned the name “Donald Trump” into a brand that literally became a household name. So what if Donald Trump got his start with help from his dad? Trump turned his father’s loan into a worldwide empire worth BILLIONS. Where the startup capital came from doesn’t diminish that in any way.
Now onto your second point, Mr. NeverTrumper. You said that Donald Trump has had a string of failures. Here’s a question for you; do you know how hard it is to start a successful business?
I thought not. Starting any sort of business venture is fraught with all manner of peril. In fact, over 90% of businesses fail within their first year. Why? Market fluctuations, economic downturns, lack of demand for a particular service, whether or not the moon is full. The point is there are literally hundreds of reasons that can lead to a business failing. Yes, that includes poor management on the part of the CEO.
Now, was that the case with some of Donald Trump’s business failures? Probably. Donald Trump is a man that does have a bit of an impulsive streak about him. Certainly that can be seen in failures such as the New Jersey Generals or Trump: The Game. Is that the case for all of his failures? Of course not. Like I said there are all sorts of factors that account for why a particular business would fail. It stands to reason that most of his business failures can be attributed to several factors rather than just “Trump is a horrible businessman.”
“Yeah, but, but what about the bankruptcies?”
All right, let’s look at the bankruptcies. Donald Trump has had to file for bankruptcy four times within the last 25 years. His first bankruptcy was the Trump Taj Mahal back in 1991. This was closely followed by the Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992. After that it was 12 years before Trump filed for bankruptcy again in 2004, this time on his Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts. The last time Trump filed for bankruptcy was in 2009 on Trump Entertainment Resorts.
That’s quite a few bankruptcies to go through in that amount of time. However, there are two factors that we need to consider when looking at this. First and foremost is the fact that all four of these bankruptcies were Chapter 11 filings. What does that mean? Chapter 11 is a process that allows a business owner to reorganize and restructure the company’s debt. It’s an option that is intended to save a business and allow it to continue on rather than liquidating its assets. Typically the debtor keeps most of the company’s assets, and runs that company under court supervision so that the creditors can be paid back.
The second factor we have to consider when looking at Donald Trump’s bankruptcies is what exactly DID go bankrupt? Three out of four of Donald Trump’s bankruptcies have been linked to casinos. All four bankruptcies involved the hospitality industry. These are industries that have been hit very hard by trends in the larger economy over the last few years. Why? Simply put, people have less money when the economy is bad. They travel less, spend less, and they certainly don’t want to gamble away the little that they have in a casino. Losses in the gaming and hospitality industries are almost inevitable when economic times are tough.
In fact we can safely assume that’s almost exactly what happened in all four of Donald Trump’s bankruptcies. His first two Chapter 11 filings happened in 1991 and 1992, respectively. During that time the U.S. economy had just started to come out of a recession that had begun in 1989, and peaked in 1992. In fact it was the sluggish economy that led to George Bush Sr. losing re-election to Bill Clinton. It’s reasonable to assume that this contributed heavily to Trump’s first two bankruptcies.
Now on to Donald Trump’s last two bankruptcies. Politifact looked at the 2004 bankruptcy of Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, and found that the company as a whole had accrued over $1.8 billion in debt. That’s a lot of debt for any company to have. It’s no surprise Trump had to file for Chapter 11 in this case. Does that mean that Trump’s poor management skills led to the company accumulating that much debt? Not necessarily. Again, the hospitality and casino industries are very heavily influenced by economic trends. It’s likely that the company accumulated that much debt as a cost of doing business. Eventually it became too much, and Chapter 11 had to be filed.
Donald Trump’s last bankruptcy occurred in 2009 with Trump Entertainment Resorts. You know what was happening in 2009? The Great Recession! The United States was knee deep in the worst economy since the Great Depression. The Great Recession hit the gaming and hospitality industries in Las Vegas and elsewhere like the proverbial Mack truck. Since then the industry has begun to recover, but this recovery, like everywhere else, has been slow. Casinos in Vegas were posting losses as recently as this past January. Is it the mark of a poor businessman to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy under the economy of the Great Recession? Hardly. Bankruptcy filings have been the norm for years.
“B-b-but the lawsuits!”
Yeah I was just getting to that. You say that Donald Trump is currently involved in over 160 lawsuits. That’s pretty misleading, Mr. NeverTrump. Quite frankly it’s embarrassing, even for you. It’s true that Donald Trump has been named in 169 lawsuits, but those lawsuits date back all the way to 1983. These suits come from a variety of sources for a number of different reasons. Some of the lawsuits include business disputes, litigation over contracts, personal disputes and grudges both by and against Trump. Some of these are frivolous lawsuits brought by people that are, let’s face it, just plain nutters. My favorite is the one by the guy who claims Donald Trump is an American Indian Witch. That guy has also sued the CIA director, by the way.
Are these lawsuits evidence of Donald Trump’s failures in the business world? Hardly. Donald Trump does so much business with so many different people throughout the world that it’s inevitable that he would be involved in a large number of suits. Combine that with Donald Trump’s irascible personality, and you’ve got a perfect storm to create a very, very busy legal team.
I highly suggest going back and reading the entire column. Not only is it highly entertaining, but I also tackled many of the objections that were raised by President Trump’s critics. Objections that, three years later, are being raised yet again.
President Trump’s response to the latest controversy has been two-fold. First, President Trump admitted (again) that he suffered hard times back in the 80s and 90s. Many real estate developers did. President Trump also argued that what he did was common practice among real estate developers. It is.
In fact, aside from a slight dig at the New York Times for being fake news, President Trump has pretty much treated the latest controversy over his taxes as a non-event. Americans know that President Trump is a hopeless braggart, and they’re pretty sure President Trump isn’t as rich as he says he is.
Quite frankly, unless President Trump did something illegal (which there’s no evidence for), people don’t care about his taxes. Americans don’t care whether or not President Trump lies a little when he says he’s super rich. The fact of the matter is that President Trump has done a fantastic job of guiding America’s economy out of the Obama malaise that had infected it for eight years. President Trump could have spent his money on hookers and blow for all they care.
The fact that the Left is still trying to smear Trump based on his business practices three years later shows how desperate their attacks have become.