Please sign on to Sen. Barrett’s tax transparency bill S.98

Hi Will,
Last I checked, you were not among the more than 50 cosponsors for this bill, which would require presidential candidates to release three years of the US tax returns in order to qualify for the MA ballot. If you don’t object to the bill, please sign on and work to help it pass.

Response from Will

Thanks, Geoff.

Correct, I am not cosponsoring this bill.

I completely get the motivation for it — it is outrageous that President Trump was unwilling to disclose his tax returns.

At the same time, it troubles me that individual states could set disclosure rules as a condition of ballot access. I’ve heard it argued that this is constitutional, but I’m concerned that it could lead to a patchwork of enactments in different states that might come at it from a variety of political perspectives.

I’m not necessarily opposed — I’m still considering it — but I do have reservations that I need to overcome before supporting it. I expect to make a decision later in the process as more information comes out.

Published by Geoff Dutton

Belmont resident since 1998. Technical write/editor and essayist.

14 replies on “Please sign on to Sen. Barrett’s tax transparency bill S.98”

  1. Thanks, Geoff.

    Correct, I am not cosponsoring this bill.

    I completely get the motivation for it — it is outrageous that President Trump was unwilling to disclose his tax returns.

    At the same time, it troubles me that individual states could set disclosure rules as a condition of ballot access. I’ve heard it argued that this is constitutional, but I’m concerned that it could lead to a patchwork of enactments in different states that might come at it from a variety of political perspectives.

    I’m not necessarily opposed — I’m still considering it — but I do have reservations that I need to overcome before supporting it.

  2. I understand your reservations and even share them. But your voice as a cosponsor would make you just 2% of a statement that should be made. If and when it comes to a vote, you are still free to say nay.

    Think of it like this: signing on would signify your support for governmental transparency. Nobody in the Tea Party is going to refer to your decision to justify harsh stipulations they might wish to make on people running for office. If you worry enacting this bill might set a dubious precedent, don’t. The Alt Right already sees this sort of vetting as a tool to enforce their brand of political correctness. Your endorsement of this bill will not be a factor for them but it will express your bona fides, so please don’t frame your decision as a tortuous legacy issue. We need to stand up and be counted. Now.

  3. Dee’s comment is important. There is limited width on these roadways, so if one lane each way is for buses, what is the impact on other vehicles. You mentioned a 2 minute improvement in bus transit times during rush hour. Is there a corresponding estimate for the impact on car traffic? What is the change in the number of non-bus vehicles that would be able to clear the intersection per light cycle?

  4. I urge you to back S.98.
    As more states (CA, NY) consider this ballot requirement, the more pressure will be exerted on candidates to disclose their financials. Let’s be in the forefront for transparency in government. If one wants to be considered on a national ballot should not one be totally open in all transactions and financial relationships?

  5. You STILL havent made up your mind? Keep your eye on Massachusetts, other states are considering the same bill. Be in the forefront, Bill!! Take the courageous stand. This bill is good for both sides of the aisle in national elections. If you cant stand behind your taxes, how can you represent others?

  6. Hi Will,

    Have you decided how you are going to vote?

    Our democratic institutions are under great strain. Without access to tax information from our elected officials, we don’t know whether their goals are for personal enrichment or the common good when they are supporting any particular bill.

    We currently have a President who appears to be trying to give himself a huge tax break. But no one really knows because we don’t have access to his tax situation and specifically what financial conflicts he might have.

    https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/SD98/District is a *tiny* step in the correct direction. Please don’t misunderstand. This is *not* a minor issue for many of us. We care deeply about this bill. Local politics has never been more relevant.

    This bill is absolutely the least we can do to restore some faint faith in our institutions.

    The constitution leaves it up to each state to make these kind of rules. Let’s make sure that Massachusetts stakes a principled stand for good governance.

    Your constituent,
    Stuart

  7. Hi Will,

    I don’t think you understand EXACTLY how important this bill is to your constituents.

    Our federal government appears to be steadily becoming a kleptocracy and you aren’t doing anything about it.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-foreign-profits-20180226-story.html

    Trump Organization says it has donated foreign profits to U.S. Treasury, but declines to share details

    Is this really the best we can do?

    Very, very frustrated.

    Your constituent,
    Stuart

    1. Of course, I understand how important it is to fix the federal government!

      I just am not certain that this bill is an effective path to doing that.

      Passing this bill will not expose Donald Trump’s tax returns. At best it will mean he will skip the Massachusetts primary, which won’t cost him anything, since all the MA delegates will go to the Democrat in 2020.

      Give a call if you’d like to sit down about it.

      1. HI Will,

        How about when we get a democratic Trump? Isn’t this the least we can do? Just saying it won’t immediately solve Trump doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We now know that we must take common sense norms and enshrine them in law. How will you feel when a member of the Democratic party doesn’t expose their Tax Returns and there is no law compelling them to?

        Your constituent,
        Stuart

        1. Is this the only commonsense norm that you feel should be a requirement for ballot access?

          What other “commonsense” norms might others in other states come up with . . . health care records? Mental health treatment records . . .?

          Do you feel that there is a principled way to say yes to this idea and no to other add-on ballot access requirements?

      2. Will,
        So what if Trump ignores it, as he does almost every other ethical concern? Is that the point of demanding financial transparency from politicians? I think not. You seem not to be seeing the larger picture of political corruption that is sapping this nation’s collective ability to get the peoples’ business done. Stop prevaricating and either sign on to Barrett’s legislation or help him to strengthen it.

  8. Hi Will,

    I thought I’d give it another shot to explain why you need to support this bill (ie. get on this train).

    Your reasons for not supporting this bill boil down to “what if”. What if someone wants to ask for health records to get a ballot. What if someone wants to add a requirement to being on a ballot that is *not* in the common interest.

    In general, I would contend that you could shoot any positive step forward down with this thinking. It stops progress in it’s tracks. It would have stopped the founders from writing the constitution – there will always be a “What if”. Sure people might use this law to do all sorts of other things. That is what America is all about. Let them try and then let’s have that discussion when it happens.

    But for now, we have zero transparency in how our President is benefiting from the office. Did he benefit from the 500 Million dollars that the Chinese government is putting into a project that includes a Trump Tower? Does he receive a benefit from foreign leaders staying at a Trump property? Did money change hands between him and various Russian Oligarchs or their banks.

    Imagine the long term damage to our democracy as these norms of transparency are discarded and no legislative action is taken to restore them.

    Please read the room. This is a big deal for your constituents. The people that vote in elections. The ones you work for. Please take this responsibility seriously. This is not an idle effort. It is not a time to dither. In Massachusetts, we are known for solving big problems ourselves when the federal government is sitting on it’s hands. We solved acid rain. We will solve financial transparency in government. You can be part of the solution or you can be part of the problem. But you can’t be both. Not now.

    Sincerely and passionately,
    Stuart Roseman

    1. Stu, I just don’t think this will work. It’s not a good idea.

      Trump will just ignore it.

      If you’d like to meet in person on this, we might get further than by sparring online. If you’d like that to be in a public setting with other people, I’m fine with that too.

Comments are closed.