longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential. His new book is titled Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.
As The New York Times reports Donald Trump received at least $885 million in New York City tax breaks for his real estate projects since 1980, and also sued three mayoral administrations when the city sought to deny him tax breaks for a pair of Trump skyscrapers, we speak with consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Trump is "a freeloader on the backs of taxpayers who have to make up the difference for the taxes he doesn’t pay, or get less public services," Nader comments.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about—I want to go through the records of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. How would you characterize Donald Trump and what he represents, from foreign policy to domestic politics, specifically what he is saying that he would do as president of the United States?
RALPH NADER: Well, you don’t know what he’s going to do, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. He’s basically wondering how he ever got to the top of the Republican Party and turned it into the Trump dump. He has no impulse control. He has no factual content in his head. He doesn’t really know much about anything other than being a gambling casino czar that goes bankrupt and creams off the crop and leaves the devastation to the workers and the creditors and the small business suppliers. Donald Trump has cheated everybody he has been able to cheat. He’s cheated workers, small businesses, taxpayers. He’s cheated creditors. And almost everything he attacks people for, he has done in spades. He refuses to release his tax returns, because it not only shows he hardly pays any taxes and he’s a corporate welfare king getting all kinds of freebies from the taxpayer, but he has entanglements with his partnerships all over the country and the world that may prove very embarrassing to him. So, this is what the Republican Party has reaped by allowing the electoral process to be commercialized and corporatized. So, if you say, "What is he going to do?" the one thing we know is, if anybody dares offend his ego, they’re going to get a lash back. And when you’ve got your hand on the nuclear button and you’ve got the kind of power you have in the White House, that’s a very dangerous option.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about some of his domestic policies. For example, a New York Times investigation has found Donald Trump has received at least $885 million in New York City tax breaks for his real estate projects since 1980. The Times also reports Trump successfully sued three mayoral administrations when the city sought to deny him tax breaks for a pair of Trump skyscrapers. You must have read that front-page story.
RALPH NADER: Yes, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: For his supporters, they may say the man uses the loopholes, which means he knows the loopholes, and then he’ll close the loopholes. Is that true?
RALPH NADER: That’s interesting. The millions of his supporters would be very, very critical of a neighbor that worked the welfare system unfairly. And he’s a corporate welfare king. He’s a freeloader. He’s a freeloader on the backs of taxpayers who have to make up the difference for the taxes he doesn’t pay, or get less public services. So, to the Trump supporters, who are believed to take any criticism of Trump personally, to them, I say, reduce Trump to a neighbor, and see if you’d really want to live next to that man, who is a boastful, pontificating empty suit and who lies as a matter of conviction rather than just principle.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, the Trump campaign proposed cutting back on food safety regulations, arguing they’re burdensome to farmers and, quote, "overkill." But the campaign later deleted the proposal from its website and offered no explanation. In the fact sheet, the campaign had said, quote, "The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food," unquote. The statement went on to say, quote, "The rules govern the soil farmers use, farm and food production hygiene, food packaging, food temperatures and even what animals may roam which fields and when. It also greatly increased inspections of food 'facilities,' and levies new taxes to pay for this inspection overkill." That was the fact sheet that’s no longer on the website. Your response?
RALPH NADER: Well, maybe someone who runs Trump hotels says you better have strong regulation of food; otherwise, your guests are going to come down with a contaminated food sickness. That’s part of his lashing out. He’s trying to appeal to the corporations that are now funding him—after he said nobody funds him, he funds his own campaign.
This is—the Trump campaign tells a lot about the failure of our educational system, where millions of people come out of our schools and either are unwilling or unable to separate truth from fiction and lies from propaganda. It also, the Trump campaign, tells us that there’s no level of degradation that the mass media will not descend to in order to make a profit with high ratings, covering his bombastic, wild statements against people. It’s interesting. He keeps saying "crooked Hillary." Where are the Democrats to give him his nickname? "Cheating Donald." I even wrote a column on this; you go to Nader.org. He has cheated everything he’s touched over the years.
AMY GOODMAN: Be specific.
RALPH NADER: Yeah, well, for example, he’s gone bankrupt deliberately four or five times in his Atlantic City and other casinos, because he rakes off the cream from the bankruptcy, and he gets rid of his debts. So he’s cheating his creditors. He’s cheating his workers, who are left on the street. With Trump University, he’s cheated his students. That’s now in litigation. He’s cheated the taxpayers, because anybody who’s a corporate welfare king is a freeloader on the backs of middle-class taxpayers, who have to pay their taxes. And he’s boastfully cheated on matrimony. Imagine a guy boasting about cheating in the past on his own matrimony. And you have evangelicals supporting him? You see, this—he is doing us a favor by showing us the degree of disintegration in our society, civically and otherwise.
That’s why we’re holding this four days’ convocation in Washington, two at Constitution Hall, called "Breaking Through Power."
AMY GOODMAN: This is in Washington, D.C.
RALPH NADER: In Washington, D.C., September 26, 27, 28, 29. And it’s basically a remobilization of the civic society with the major civic leaders of our time, some of them starting back in the late '60s and ’70s, that helped transform our country in terms of nutrition and food, such as Dr. Michael Jacobson, or transforming our energy options into sustainable energy efficiency, like David Freeman, who ran four public utilities, like the TVA—he's a real expert. This is a mobilization that we want people to come to. And you can go to BreakingThroughPower.org and get really excited and get empowered, or you can call directly Ticketmaster, the 1-800 number, 745-3000, 745-3000. It’s only $10 a day, and you can get scholarships, so there’s no barrier to entry.