Opinion: Double standard emerges between “the haves and the have nots”

John Aloszka

Graphic by Mariana Martins
Graphic by Mariana Martins

In the 2016 presidential race there is a looming double standard surrounding the candidates. It has been pointed out by Hillary Clinton surrogates and reporters alike that Donald Trump is oft graded on a curve by the media.

And while this double standard is steeped in both gender biases and Trump’s sheer lack of political experience, another double standard has emerged: the way the rich and poor are treated and talked about by the Republican Party.

It should have come as no surprise that when it was revealed by the New York Times that Trump could have avoided paying federal income taxes, because he lost nearly a billion dollars in 1995, he admitted to taking the break.

“Of course I did,” he said during the second presidential debate, in a borderline smug tone, before shifting to how lots of rich people don’t pay taxes.

And while he is correct in that many wealthy people do not pay their fair share of taxes, that doesn’t make it right for him to do so. It has become increasingly hypocritical for Trump and the Republican Party to claim a that they will stand up to those who cheat the US government and the middle class while taking no real issue with how Trump and other wealthy elites avoid paying taxes.

Author John Aloszka
Author John Aloszka

Many in the Trump campaign will claim that taking the 18-year tax break made him a smart businessman. And maybe it does. But in a party so concerned about how poor people receive, and spend, their money, it’s contradictory to their message that this form of tax break for the wealthy — an entitlement in itself — is not looked down upon.

The economic double standard in this race is between, as President George Bush put it, “the haves and the have nots.” Those who have money can take tax breaks, bailouts, and hide their assets offshore to little or no scandal or controversy. But when a poor person takes government assistance, many in Trump’s own party believe they should be drug tested, or better yet, not given any money at all.

This is not to say the Republican party can’t be against welfare and entitlements. Undoubtedly many Americans believe that the government does too much to help poor people, but being against welfare should be an across-the-board affair. Because while Trump lost $916 million in 1995, many Americans were struggling to rise above to poverty line, even while working multiple jobs.

As inequality grows more and more, it will become increasingly clear that fighting entitlements and welfare for the poor while ignoring loopholes for the rich will not only be a losing argument, but a bad one at that.


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