By 1990, Mr. Trump had amassed $3.4 billion in debt, much of it in the form of high-interest junk bonds. He was personally liable for $832.5 million of that. He had bought a yacht for $29 million, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for $407 million and a failing airline for $365 million. All were losing money.Details of the losses are not available, because the entities were privately held. But reviews by New Jersey casino regulators and securities filings related to debt offerings show a grim picture.... The measures he promised to take repeatedly did not work, casino regulators noted. At several points, he turned to his family fortune.
Eric Trump, one of Donald Trump's sons and campaign surrogates, recently boasted on Fox News about his father's "entrepreneurial" skills. The Republican presidential hopeful, Eric Trump added, has "become the epitome of the American dream" after starting with "just about nothing."It was, of course, unintentionally hilarious. Donald Trump didn't begin his business career with "just about nothing"; he started with millions of dollars in family assistance. Despite this extraordinary head start -- the kind of advantage the vast majority of Americans could hardly imagine -- it didn't take long before the New York Republican's enterprise was hemorrhaging money, and as the New York Times reported today, "it was decisions Mr. Trump made at the helm of his business empire during the 1980s that led to its nearly imploding."
The Washington Post reported that by 1990, Trump's enterprise had "piled up more than $3 billion in debt." He couldn't afford to pay the interest on the money he owed, but Trump "persuaded his bankers and bondholders to extend the terms of his loans" until 1995.That, of course, was the year he reported a $916 million loss, potentially freeing him from paying any federal income taxes for nearly two decades.
A Times editorial added yesterday, "Every new revelation about Mr. Trump's business career shows that he's built his millionaire's lifestyle on debt, tax avoidance and other people's money. From bankrupt casinos to a so-called university, he milked them for all he could and left workers, students and taxpayers holding the bag."In a series of sharp tweets this morning, MSNBC's Joy Reid summarized the picture nicely, explaining that Trump succeeded by convincing banks to lend him massive amounts of money, "which he promptly sunk into various boondoggles, invested poorly, aggrandized himself and lost much of it, while borrowing even more."When Trump's mistakes caught up with him, he "took several government bailouts" and exploited loopholes in the tax code that treat real-estate developers differently than nearly everyone else.There have been some suggestions in recent days that Trump doesn't appear to have engaged in any criminal activity, and as such, questions surrounding his failures as a businessman aren't important in the presidential campaign.To put it mildly, this is a poor argument. Over the course of his strange career in politics, Donald Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a striking indifference towards public policy, current events, governmental institutions, international affairs, and occasionally, basic human decency. The Republican nominee has made literally no commitment to public service during his 70 years, and if elected, he would easily be the least experienced and least qualified president in the history of the United States.It's against this backdrop that Trump's supporters say, "Fine, but his private-sector acumen is so impressive, and his business successes have been so great, Trump has earned an opportunity to lead."Except, Trump has struggled mightily in his chosen career, despite having every advantage handed to him, gift-wrapped, on a silver platter. His one selling point as a candidate for the nation's most important office is itself a sham.And as his record helps prove that Trump is a pretty horrible entrepreneur, what is there to justify his presidential bid?