Donald Trump Wants Taxpayers to Subsidize His Payoffs to Politicians

Dean Baker

During his presidential campaign Donald Trump frequently talked about how he used campaign contributions as payoffs to advance his business interests. He boasted that if you give politicians money they have to do what you want. In an apparent effort to further advance his business interests, Donald Trump is pushing a plan that would allow him to get taxpayer subsidies for these payoffs.

According to The New York Times, he’s proposing a plan that would overturn current law, so that tax-exempt churches could get directly involved in political campaigns. (The Times’ article is inaccurately headlined, saying that Trump would end “law banning political endorsements by churches.” There is no law that blocks churches from making political endorsements. The law only blocks endorsements by organizations with tax-exempt status.)

If Congress follows the path proposed by Trump, he would be able to make tax-deductible donations to a church-like organization, which would then pass them on as payoffs to politicians of Mr. Trump’s choosing. This would mean, for example, that he could donate $100 million to the First Church of Trump. Since this donation would be tax deductible, he would get 40 percent, or $40 million, written off of his taxes. The Church of Trump would then make contributions to the candidates of Trump’s choosing. He would then call upon these politicians for favors he needs to boost his businesses profits.

It will be interesting to see if the same Congress will be able to vote for both cuts to people’s health care and subsidies to Donald Trump’s political payoffs.

Cross-posted from Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog

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