How Trump Dog-Whistles the Business Establishment

Election '16

Even as Donald Trump woos working-class voters by trashing Washington politicians, he is sending a reassuring message to the business-financial establishment: Don’t worry, I’m on your side, he’s telling corporate execs in coded language. Trump the dealmaker has signaled that he’ll deliver mammoth tax “forgiveness”—worth hundreds of billions—to the largest multinational corporations.

Trump delivered this message during his victory speech in Florida on Tuesday, but it was couched in evasive and deceitful terms that only insiders were likely to understand. Business and financial leaders will certainly get it, because they’re lobbying intensely for the same deal: massive tax reductions for gold-plated names like Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and scores of other globalized American corporations.

The companies have $2.1 trillion in overseas profits parked offshore and untaxed, and they won’t bring the money home until Congress agrees to give them another “tax holiday” and permanently reduces the corporate tax rate.

Except Trump makes it sound like the multinationals are the victims—held hostage by dirty politicians. In fact, it’s the opposite. The tech companies, mega-banks, and drug makers are carrying out the corporate version of highway robbery: If Congress doesn’t give in to their demands, they threaten to pull the trigger by moving to Ireland or other low-tax hangouts.

“I’m disgusted with it; I’m tired of seeing it,” Trump told his adoring fans. “People can’t get their money back into the country because the politicians can’t get along, they can’t make a deal…. Companies are leaving our country in order to go and get money—that’s their money—because there’s no way of bringing it in.”

Trump says he would change all that instantly as president. The dealmaker would introduce a cooperative spirit of compromise. “If I sat down with a few of the senators, or a few of the congressmen, you could make a deal on that in 10 minutes,” he said.

Like so much of his campaign rhetoric, Trump turns reality into baloney. The multinationals can bring their profits home anytime they wish. Like right now. They merely have to pay the taxes they already owe. The threat to American citizens is that both Democrats and Republicans will cave in and collaborate in giving the corporate tax dodgers what they want. The rest of us will pick up the tab.

Campaign reporters and cable-TV talkers missed the story entirely, though it’s not exactly their fault, because Trump distorted the true meaning of what he was promising. I imagine campaign reporters ignored this talk because it sounded like more of Trump’s goofy stream-of-consciousness soliloquies.

The only reason I caught his drift was that Trump was talking about the very subject of my recent Nation blog, “Democrats and Republicans Are Quietly Planning a Corporate Giveaway—to the Tune of $400 Billion.” Senator Elizabeth Warren has already denounced this bipartisan political scheme as “a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers.” Indeed, it is another stunning example of why Washington deal-making enrages citizens.

Most voters don’t have a clue. They certainly do not realize that this working-class hero named Trump is actually a willing agent of the 1 percenters. Who will tell the people, if reporters covering the presidential election think it’s only a horse race?

Trump, I suspect, is turning a corner in his campaign. Having bonded with millions of hurt and angry working people, he’s attempting now to assure elites that he can also play “presidential” in a convincing manner. After ridiculing Marco Rubio mercilessly for months, Trump congratulated the young man on his campaign and predicted a promising future for him. Ho-ho-ho.

Trump also had a nice talk with the Grand Wizard of GOP obstruction, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who urged him to go light on the violent lingo. Trump also made nice with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

I expect this next phase of the Trump campaign will test the Republican temperament generally. Will party regulars depart on principle if he wins the nomination? (Not many have, so far.) Or will they hop on board in the vague hope that Trump is a winner who might “mature” in the cauldron of presidential responsibilities?

I imagine Trump is imperially pleased with himself. He chuckles when he does his hair. Not sure himself which way to go, he knows it will be great.

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