Give Donald Trump credit for being sporting about the fresh revelation in the New York Times that he racked up a cool $1 billion in losses during the 1990s, a sum that earned him the distinction of being the number one financial loser in America. ‘It was sport,’ he announced on Twitter. Indeed it was.
Not everyone gets to play with the sums of money that Trump has splashed about in for decades. Unlike Scrooge McDuck, however, who wallowed in his swimming pool, Trump has followed a rather different ethos. He’s spent his way into bankruptcy repeatedly, only to be bailed out of his predicament by…who? In this last instance, it would appear that it wasn’t Fred Trump who intervened but that Deutsche Bank dispensed with traditional Teutonic frugality to lend Trump a welcome helping hand or two. What ended up amounting to eleemosynary donations permitted him to clamber out of financial ruin to construct a new, glittering financial edifice that would allow the Donald to depict himself as a successful and prosperous businessman. Would that we could all rely on such largesse to defray any incautious outlays that might jeopardize our financial health.
Whether the new report about Trump’s financial maneuverings will affect his reputation or popularity ratings is dubious. Like the Duke and Dauphin in Huckleberry Finn, who gull their audience with their first theatrical show, reckon that those in attendance won’t want to reveal their ignorance and will allow a second performance to go ahead, and then split on the eve of the third before the locals can join forces to expose them, Trump has shown that he knows how to move seamlessly from one act to the next, leaving creditors and contractors behind in a cloud of construction dust. Trump’s new incarnation is as the can-do president who, unlike the dreaded Barack Obama, will bring China to heel, crush Iran and Venezuela, and make nice with the Russkies.
The danger for Trump is that he’s headed for a version of foreign policy insolvency. If none of it pans out — no trade deal with China and war erupts with Iran and Venezuela — he’ll have basically laid out a welcome mat for a Democratic president in 2020.
Then, and only then, would Trump end up in difficulties on the financial front. The Southern District of New York continues to conduct multifarious investigations into Trump’s business dealings. The Times reports that New York State legislature is moving to pass a bill allowing it to release his state tax returns: ‘State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, confirmed on Tuesday that the State Senate had enough votes to ensure passage of a bill allowing the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return requested by a leader of one of three congressional committees for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”’
The release of those returns will help to settle one question, which is whether Trump really is a billionaire. The other one that lingers on is who really has been paying his bills. Is it Russian money that has been funneled through Deutsche Bank? His perfervid efforts to block any and all information about his finances from reaching daylight indicate that he doesn’t want such questions answered, no matter the political cost.