Opinion Tax dollars for napping

Dear Government:

  • Published:
President Donald Trump holds up an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017 play

President Donald Trump holds up an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017

(AFP/File)
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Enclosed please find my 2017 tax form, and a check for the amount I owe, just ahead of the deadline.

Can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with my contribution, though I have some idea based on the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed last month.

I realize I’m in the stubborn and probably stupid minority of Americans who still do their own income tax return. No doubt, I’m missing out on some dodges, and making mistakes as well. Such is the cost of duty with this citizenship thing.

Also, given that I’m not happy you’re spending my money on things like protection of Scott Pruitt’s afternoon nap, I like to think that self-filing gives me the right to complain more than usual.

I see you’re still punishing me for working — taxing wages and business income at a much higher rate than the money I make doing nothing, like holding stocks. Plus, you’re still taxing Warren Buffett at a lower rate than his secretary, despite his plea for fairness.

And please, no lectures about underpaying my quarterlies. You are a world-class deadbeat. You’re running an $800 billion deficit this fiscal year, and that will swell to more than $1 trillion in coming years, thanks to the Republican tax cut. By 2023, it will cost more to pay the interest on your debt than all but a handful of government functions.

So I guess you’re modeling yourself after President Donald Trump, who has called himself “the king of debt.” Also, he’s expert at con games, stiffing contractors, and running casinos into the ground. As he’s shown, those skills are certainly transferable.

I’m supposed to feel better about the tax bill I’ll be paying this time next year, with lower rates. But I’ll take a hit under the new deduction limits on state and local taxes. And since you’re getting rid of the individual mandate, my health care premiums will go up as well. Thanks, non-Obama.

All of this would be fine if I felt better about our shared enterprise, which is looking sketchier and more gangster-like by the day. If you could, please don’t spend my money on the personal vendettas, institutional lies and attempts to protect the criminals associated with Trump.

It’s one thing for the president’s personal fixer, Michael D. Cohen, to threaten to “come at you, grab you by the neck” when not involving government service. But once you start using public money from the executive branch to bully law enforcement into backing off their investigations of thug life, then you’ve made me a co-conspirator.

I want to be proud of how my money is spent, not afraid that it can and will be used against me.

The biggest stuff — gazillions for defense, massive subsidies for agriculture conglomerates, a down payment on the vanity border wall — just seems beyond my capacity for targeted outrage.

It’s the small change that rattles my civic soul. Take Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency dismantler in chief — please. The first-class travel on my dime, the $42,000 to build a super secret phone booth, the attempt to drop $70,000 on two desks — enough! But now we find out he wanted to use a siren in his bulletproof, taxpayer-financed auto fleet to get to dinner at his favorite French restaurant, Le Diplomat.

Because of Pruitt’s paranoia, his security detail costs about $3 million a year. Do you know how many trails the National Park Service could repair with that? Well, of course you do, you’re The Government. And those millions don’t include the door — $2,460 to replace — that was broken down when Pruitt’s bodyguards mistook an afternoon nap for a medical emergency. Which raises the question: Why are they guarding his naps?

If Pruitt truly needed dictator-level security and motorcades, he wouldn’t fly coach when he’s traveling on his own dime. He gouges us because Trump thinks he’s doing an outstanding job not enforcing clean air and water laws.

“I hate what they do with our tax money!” That was Trump in 2016. Now he’s on track to spend more of our money on leisure travel than any president, ever. In the first 13 months of his presidency, it cost us about $40 million in flights and security for him to go to Mar-a-Lago on weekends. When he golfs at his place in Bedminster, New Jersey, it’s almost a million per trip, all costs included. The Secret Service is spending $100,000 on golf cart rentals alone.

What would make me feel a little better is if someone there in The Government would finish Trump’s audit so he can release his tax return, as promised two years ago. When you audited me, I sat down with a nice lady and a calculator, and we finished up before my coffee got cold. But then, I didn’t have nearly as many cryptic business expenses marked “other.”

If any problems arise with my return, please contact Mark Zuckerberg, as he knows more about me than I do.

Sincerely, A Taxpayer.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

TIMOTHY EGAN © 2018 The New York Times

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