On Dec. 22, 2017, Donald J. Trump’s administration passed its most ambitious piece of legislation to date. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act replaced the 31-year-old tax code passed under the Reagan administration in 1986. However, the most interesting thing about this tax plan is not just its historical significance, but rather what you don’t find in it.
There was no mention of the largest federally subsidized apartment complex in the nation, Starrett City. The Trump family had a 20 percent stake in the complex, now split among them and other corporate entities by their grandfather Fred Trump. Donald J. Trump has a four percent stake in the complex that may earn him $36 million, thanks to a $905 million transaction that was challenged by a few shareholders in 2018.
It shouldn’t then surprise you that Trump also appointed his son Eric Trump’s former wedding planner Lynne Patton to oversee the section of HUD responsible for New York City’s public housing. This means that not only is the Department of Housing and Urban Development run by a subservient Republican Ben Carson, who knows nothing about government policy in this field, but now the equivalent to a family member has now been appointed to oversee a division that will be dealing with such a transaction.
Real estate has been quite prosperous during the Trump administration, especially since the estate tax deduction has been doubled from $5.49 million for individuals to $11.18 million. It is even more interesting that Trump has cut 14 percent of HUD’s funding as of this year, which is far below its current $48 billion spending.
Trump’s budget cuts overall public housing funding by 48 percent, and more than 250,000 low-income families could be affected by the $1 billion funding decrease for Section 8 federal housing vouchers. Meanwhile, many private landlords were given some relief and security despite the hustle of the new cuts.
This president has pulled the wool over the eyes of our childish free press, which chooses to discuss his sex scandal and make fun of the way he speaks and acts, all while remaining completely obtuse to the fact that this former real estate executive is probably doing kleptocratic acts all the time.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution bans the president from receiving any favors from a foreign power without congressional approval. There are two parts to the Emoluments Clause; receiving domestic bribes, and receiving foreign bribes. These two aspects have been through some rough interpretation. Some believe that President Trump’s case is an exception, due to the fact that the clause doesn’t address how this relates to a president with an existing business.
Most constitutional lawyers believe that the main interpretation still applies in this case. The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on January 16 detailing how the administration had raised some issues pertaining to the Emoluments Clauses despite the fact that the GSA didn’t see any sign of alarm at the time. Trump had maintained his lease on the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., and the report found that Trump may be violating the clause as we speak due to this holding. That isn’t even taking into account the other business transactions that have pertained to his company in recent years.
The prince of Saudi Arabia (Mohammad Bin Salman) paid for the accommodations of his accompanying travelers for a five-day stay at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan in March 2018. That short stay boosted the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter. The anti-corruption watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, have been involved in the charge of suing the president for violating the Emoluments Clause. And to top it all off, our president had registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia during the campaign, which was reported by the Washington Post in 2016.
This administration has cleverly orchestrated the most intense kleptocratic efforts of any administration in history. Mr. Trump has adjusted quite well to the old swamp in Washington, even managing to get Ben Carson on board with his clever media tactics. Last year, Carson attended the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., and proceeded to give a lecture about how the Brett Kavanaugh case was a wider conspiracy effort by the Fabian society, a socialist organization. I’m not making this up.
Why have we not had more frequent coverage on our president’s conflicts of interest, and how his company has been an imperative factor in his real estate policy? Maybe this will finally get more news coverage as we see money laundering charges surface more in the Mueller investigation.