The Corrupt vs the Crackpot

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The presidential debate is tonight, and I’d rather do anything else because it’s an unhelpful proposition to ask questions of two candidates that 1) do not answer questions in detail or in any helpful way and 2)  are the living proof of the dumbing down of the American voter, which, sadly, affects people of all IQs.

I view this as the competition of the Corrupt vs. the Crackpot.  If you’re confused, that’s Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively.  The first is a consummate liar and the latter is a celebrity without a filter who rarely can construct a sentence beyond six words.  “Believe me.”  It’s awful.

That said, it’s not as awful as the modern media, whose role in all of this should be to shed light into the darkness, exposing what the candidates would prefer to hide and, to the extent possible, hold them accountable.  More than ever, the last few weeks have shown that the media, in aggregation, is a hitman on Trump.  I don’t fault them for that.  I fault them for not showing the same prosecuting tactics towards Clinton.

We all know Trump either has or used to have money.  Going back 21 years, three pages of his leaked tax return shows that he filed a $916 million loss, thus avoiding payable taxes.  I’d like to see that document, but even my expert Google skills show nothing other than what the New York Times says about them.  So, we have a 21 year old tax return and a media that trumpets, without questioning, Mrs. Clinton’s charge that he unfairly uses the tax code to avoid paying “his fair share.”  His response:  It’s legal.

This is such a simplistic card to play, but it also incites anger towards the wealthy.  If he’s rich, he should be paying taxes, right?  Wrong.  Taxes are for income in a single year, and it doesn’t surprise me a bit that Trump wasn’t successful that year, or however many others.  Wealth isn’t taxed; income is.  The media doesn’t bother to mention that, preferring the narrative that that the rich don’t pay their fair share. 

However, I can find the tax return for the 2013 Clinton Foundation, at their own website.  Let’s take a peek at the facts (with some rounding of numbers):

Line 12 – 2013 Revenue – $148M
Line 15 – Salaries/Compensation – $30M (none of which goes to Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea)
Line 17 – Other expenses – $45M – these are detailed beginning on Page 10, Part IX

So, Part IX:

Lines 1 and 3 – Grants to governments/organizations – $9M
Lines 5 –10 – Compensation and other salaries/wages – the aforementioned $30M
Line 12 – Advertising – $670K
Lines 13 – 16 – Office related – $11M
Line 17 – Travel – $8M
Line 19 – Conferences, conventions and meetings – $9M
Line 11(g) – Other fees for services – $7M – says see Form O for details

Form O (page 45 of the pdf) does not list any actual numbers.  It has an extended narrative of launching programs domestically and abroad, and when it finally mentions actual $ expended, it appears their partners bear the majority of the load, for example the $12.5M program with Kenya to deliver reliable greenhouse gas data. 

Another example is $30M that the Clinton Foundation “facilitated” in direct foreign investment to Haiti.  That’s a sore subject with Haitians these days…  The case studies go on and on (to page 63 of the pdf), but keep in mind that the total allotted expense contributed by the Foundation was $7M noted on Line 11(g).

It’s a non-profit, so no taxes were directly paid.  That said, the plain statement on the first page amounts to $147M in contributions for the single year and $9M in grants and similar accounts paid, with an increase in net assets from $184M to $247M in a single year.  A quick peek at their 2014 return shows another increase to $332M.

It seems this would be worth a little news – 6% of revenue going to grants/assistance in a non-profit that increases its assets by 34% a year.  And what of $9M in conferences and $8M in related travel?  It looks like some awfully good living for those working a non-profit life.

I’m not a tax form expert, but that’s how I read the numbers.  Charity Watch somehow translates a very similar 2014 return to equate to 88% “of its cash budget” going to programs.  It would be helpful to have an asterisk (*) to refer to make clearer what cash lies inside or outside of a “cash budget.”  It seems simple, but obviously, it isn’t.   

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