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Mexico and the US: Trump vs. Facts

The infographic shows the claims presidential candidate Donald Trump made during the first debate versus facts. For the big picture, click here

OPINION:

By now it should be clear that Donald Trump has not paid federal taxes, probably for many years, hence his reticence to publicly release his income tax returns. This infographic was prepared after the first presidential debate, to provide some back-of-the-envelope calculations of taxes paid by Mexicans in the United States, both  documented and undocumented.

 

Those taxes contribute to the U.S. economy and to the many services, such as schools, clinics and infrastructure that we all enjoy. The infographic also highlights that all evidence suggests NAFTA had a very small (but positive) impact on the U.S. economy and that a repeal of the North American Free Trade Agreement would disrupt millions of U.S. jobs that depend on trade with Mexico. Abandoning NAFTA would have cataclysmic effects on the Mexican economy, only adding to migratory pressures. It could even threaten U.S. security by pushing young unemployed Mexicans into illegal activities, such as drug trafficking.

 

Finally, the infographic highlights one additional element of the presidential debate that received relatively little scrutiny. This relates to the way taxes are in Europe and Latin America using a Value Added Tax (VAT), instead of the system in the United States that depends on state and local sales taxes. American companies are not taxed by Mexico in any protectionist manner. The functioning of VAT is somewhat complex, because it involves paying the tax at the point of sale, but also deducing any taxes paid. VAT rules are what allow American tourists visiting Europe to get a refund on the taxes they paid on the merchandise they take home. Perhaps due to ignorance regarding how VAT collection works, the false asseveration by Trump went largely unchallenged in public debate.

 

Citizens around the world are concerned about the efficient use of taxes and the likelihood of waste and possible corruption in government spending. A basic premise of living in a political community is that all of us have an obligation to contribute our fair share. We may disagree about what that fair share might be, and whether the rich should pay more than the poor. But there is no question that the Mexicans whom the Republican candidate intends to deport, as well as those legal residents and citizens, contribute far more to our nation than he does. According to many news reports, Trump has not paid federal taxes nor has he contributed personal funds to the charities supported by his foundation. His philosophy regarding solidarity toward others seems to have been expressed quite explicitly during the first debate:

 

"But I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I am running the company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies."

 

I believe that anyone running for public service, and the most powerful office in the world, simply cannot make a statement like that. Public servants should not look for the loopholes in the laws, but be held to a higher standard that follows the spirit of the law. Tax codes are created to ensure that all of us contribute to the greater good. Someone running for the presidency of the United States should aim higher than just doing well for his family and private interests.

 

A U.S. president has obligations toward the people of his nation, before himself or his family. Presidential responsibilities (moral or otherwise) should extend to U.S. allies, such as  Mexico, and perhaps even to all the inhabitants of the world. Someone who lies, cheats on his taxes, and does not care for others is simply not fit to become the next President of the United States.

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