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A huge deal for campaign disclosure: Trump's tax records for Biden's medical records

A huge deal for campaign disclosure: Trump's tax records for Biden's medical records
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When someone in politics doesn’t disclose information, the question is not whether they are hiding something, but what. Was there a rationale for President Nixon’s refusal to produce the tapes? Could there have been motivation for President Clinton’s denial under oath of his personal relationship with Monica Lewinsky? How about Clinton’s questioning the definition of “is” when confronted with what he later acknowledged was perjury? Did Gary Hart really mean it when he said, “follow me?” Then we have John Edwards’s mistress, Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra and many others. Abuse of power and sex scandals have reached the office of the presidency and candidates who want to occupy it, always preceded by frantic concealment efforts.

Presidential health also is fertile ground for smokescreens. A Washington Post article from the last campaign by Joel Achenbach and Lillian Cunningham describes many health evasions over the years. Woodrow Wilson’s stroke was not disclosed for months.  Grover Cleveland had cancer surgery on a yacht to hide it from the public. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE’s Addison’s Disease was completely covered up. Going the other way, Lyndon Johnson may have provided a bit too much disclosure when publicly revealing his gall bladder surgery scar.

Financial scandals involving presidents go further back, to Warren Harding and Teapot Dome. Recent occupants of the office have been rich either before entering office or shortly thereafter, so they may have less temptation. Certainly, there is no shortage of financial scandals in the Article I branch. Wikipedia lists four in just the last three years.  As for abuse of power and sex scandals in Congress . . . space doesn’t permit.

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In this year’s presidential campaign, each candidate is concealing important information from the public.

Of course President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE’s tax returns are of great interest, certainly to Democrats in Washington and New York, but also to the American people, two-thirds of whom in a Reuters poll believe the returns should be released.

Many of Trump’s opponents hope his taxes will at long last uncover the great Russian white whale sought for years. Many harpoons have been lost in that pursuit, though, and, if Trump sold some condos to rich Russians, so have other developers in New York and Miami. Until we have his taxes, we can’t say for sure.

More likely, Trump’s tax returns would reveal that his wealth is less than claimed.  Trump previously sued a New York Times reporter over similar allegations, so he has a track record of sensitivity to this.

Former Trump lawyer, now enemy, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenMichael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration's Justice Department Bruce Ohr retires from DOJ Trump again asks Supreme Court to shield tax records MORE states that Trump is concern that his taxes will be picked over and end up costing him money.  Certainly, whatever his worth, Trump will have more complicated and questionable deductions than Bill Clinton’s underwear, Tim Geithner’s kids’ sleepaway camp, or Zoe Baird’s domestic help.

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While Biden released tax returns for 2016-2018, his health disclosure is limited to a three-page note from his doctor concluding, “. . . Biden is a healthy, vigorous 77-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency . . .”  Biden’s activity during the campaign belies this assessment. He is in metaphorical assisted living, surrounded by aides and going out a few times a week, the most languid pace since William McKinley’s “front porch” campaign in 1896. Compare Biden to Reagan chopping wood, Bush Sr. boating at Kennebunkport, Clinton jogging (however slowly), Bush Jr. on the ranch, Obama hooping it up, or even Trump holding court at yet another rally.

How can someone as inert as Biden handle being president? Further, anyone who has experienced mental decline in someone close to them may recognize similarities in Biden’s comportment and frequent verbal interludes.

Each candidate has much to gain from his opponent’s disclosures and likely something to lose from their own. How about a mutual reveal — Trump’s taxes records for Biden’s full medical records. Who blinks first?

This would be huge deal, maybe for each campaign and certainly for the American voting public’s right to know.

Douglas Carr is president of Carr Capital Co., a financial and economic advisory firm. He has taught finance at Quinnipiac University and is the published author of financial markets research.