The tax return release issue is dogging President Trump, maybe rightfully so since he has said that he will do so. Originally there was the ‘issue/excuse’ of his being audited; some believed that was the case while others thought it simply a convenient dodge. Audit or not, he should honor his word; if he doesn’t, he will pay a price in public opinion polls and that could hurt in the event he runs for a second term. It will certainly be a favorite launchpad for his critics.
I can recall a member of Congress from Texas who started his career as a grade school teacher, became our President and who left public life a wealthy man owning a string of television stations in Texas. Those kinds of ‘success’ stories beg for some level of public disclosure, if not an investigation. We don’t pay members of Congress that well…and if we do maybe there need to be some changes in their compensation package in addition to the element of full disclosure.
Maybe this is the time for President Trump to personally and preemptively take this discussion to the nation. Maybe it is time for him to say that he has asked Congress to set a requirement that all public officials elected/reelected to a seat in Congress, or higher office, in the future, release their tax returns for the past decade, and that he has requested this be applied retroactively and uniformly to all current members of Congress as well as to the President and Vice President through a bill passed by this Congress.
I would expect that such a pronouncement, made as President Trump releases his returns as he promised, would bring some of the members of Congress to high dudgeon. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) would have spittle flying in a hurry claiming this was simple retaliation for him insisting the President keep his promise, etc. etc. That might well be true, but it also would place Congress directly in the spotlight, a spotlight that members would not relish especially at a time when we tend to have suspicions whether or not founded.
This would be essentially making Congress take its own medicine or looking to be guilty of something needing to be hidden from the light of day. Might there be some turn-over in Congress of those who refused to make public their tax returns? Yes, except refusal to comply would certainly add emphasis to the assumption that person had something to hide rather than that he or she was simply standing on precedence, etc., etc. They can comply and run again or not comply and be thought of however their constituents would prefer.
This is the kind of thing that one might expect President Trump to announce as his goal at the same time he makes public his returns for X period of time. This would also provide him the opportunity to fine-tune the proposal so that there could remain an element of privacy for certain things that might’ve been extraordinary, even as those things were disclosed to the IRS in keeping with tax regulations. This would also be a stroke of political genius as a stick-in-the-eye for certain members of Congress who feel they’re above such requirements.
After all, that old saw “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” has a distinct element of basic truth to it. It is something that we ‘commoners’ could understand, and I think it would be very well-received by the general public even though it might make a few seats become available if sitting members decided to avoid this disclosure for whatever their reason. Even that decision would be exposed to the light of day, as well.
This would be a “Trumpian” move if ever there were such a move. I suspect there would be a groundswell of public support instantly, and that support would likely grow over time. It would help the voters sift and sort, and it would restore any lost luster to the Congress whose members would be seen as being treated like the rest of us. It might result in new blood which is probably not a bad idea on its face. We seldom remove a member of Congress, either in the Senate or the House so I doubt this would bring a huge change in the experience level of Congress generally. If it did, so be it; maybe that was necessary and necessitated by such a move.
I can visualize the press conference in the White House as this were laid out for public consumption. This might be of such a nature as to bring President Trump out to meet with the press, to demonstrate he has nothing to hide by disclosing his returns and by telling the nation he expects that of every member of the U.S. Congress.
This would be a “Trumpian” moment that would live for decades in public lore. Worth considering, Mr. President!