Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Anthony Gaughan (Drake), Eleanor Roosevelt’s Tax Returns:
Eleanor Roosevelt probably would have disagreed with Donald Trump on many topics. But a new article in Modern American History highlights one issue Roosevelt saw eye-to-eye with President Trump: the non-disclosure of presidential tax returns.
Carolyn C. Jones (Iowa), Eleanor Roosevelt's Tax Returns, Modern American History 1 (Cambridge University Press 2018):
To many Americans, it now seems obvious that income tax disclosure by presidents and presidential candidates—a norm since Nixon was president—unequivocally serves the public good, acting as a bulwark against corruption and a mark of transparency. In April 2017, thousands joined Tax Marches across the nation to protest President Trump's break with that tradition. But Eleanor Roosevelt saw more at stake in such disclosure. Pitted against transparency, she saw the competing right to cultivate privacy and personal independence, values which, as Roosevelt knew well, affected women in very particular ways given the gendered history of earning money and paying taxes.
Did compulsory tax return disclosure create a sort of presumption of guilt, stoking distrust and suspicion in the same way that loyalty oaths did? Just what should the public know about their representatives’ finances and those of their families?