In a refreshing contrast to Elizabeth Warren’s hopelessly corrupt “getting paid market value for expert services — probably with arrangements made through a PRIVATE EMAIL SERVER kept in her BASEMENT” model, here’s how a more wholesome and non-corrupt public figure does it:The basic Trump method, established as far back as his Atlantic City casino days, goes like this:
The basic Trump method, established as far back as his Atlantic City casino days, goes like this: The basic Trump method, established as far back as his Atlantic City casino days, goes like this:
First, Trump contracts with someone to do some work for him.
Second, the work gets done.
Third, Trump does not pay for the work.
Fourth, the people Trump owes money threaten to sue him.
Fifth, Trump offers to pay a small fraction of the sum they originally agreed on.
The person Trump owes money to is now faced with an unattractive choice. He can accept 20 or 30 percent of what he is owed right now. Alternatively, he can hire a lawyer and fight out a lawsuit that might take months or years. Since Trump is rich and has lawyers on his staff, it’s nothing to the contractor to fight an extended legal battle. And since Trump is the one notpaying the bill, delay is inherently in his favor. The business owner, by contrast, could really use some money now rather than later. And he’d rather not have a bunch of legal bills and waste a ton of his own time in court.
The particular outcomes varied over time, but even the people who fought Trump most successfully ended up with unsatisfactory outcomes.
USA Today, for example, reported in 2016 that at one point, Trump owed a total of $69 million to 253 separate subcontractors on the Taj Mahal casino. One of those subcontractors was Marty Rosenberg of Atlantic Plate Glass Co., to whom Trump was $1.5 million in debt. That bill was so high that Rosenberg took on an informal role as a leader of a big group of contractors who sued Trump.
Rosenberg’s mission: with Trump offering as little as 30 cents on the dollar to some of the contractors, Rosenberg wanted to get as much as he could for the small businesses, most staffed by younger tradesmen with modest incomes and often families to support.
“Yes, there were a lot of other companies,” he said of those Trump left waiting to get paid. “Yes, some did not survive.”
Rosenberg said his company was among the lucky ones. He had to delay paying his own suppliers to the project. The negotiations led to him eventually getting about 70 cents on the dollar for his work, and he was able to pay all of his suppliers in full.
The basic picture that emerges from this is that not only has Trump engaged in shady practices, but he actually did so pretty cleverly. He’s hit upon a strategy of bilking people that works. If you’d described this to me in the abstract a few years ago, I’d have told you that it wouldn’t work — that nobody would do business with someone who acted this way.
But evidently Trump is smarter than I am, because he figured out that you really can keep running the scam over and over again as long as you switch businesses and locations enough.
As Matt says, Trump is uniquely bad in a lot of ways, but his white collar crime impunity is pretty much business as usual.