Friday, December 15, 2017

Still the Party of Big Business and Big Money

Back in a March posting, I wrote that if we were given the exercise of trying to describe the Republican Party in only one sentence, this would be my response:
The raison d’être of the Republican Party is to look out for the interests of big business and big money.
I also called them the Party of Cruel and labelled them as sociopaths.  Even as an admitted liberal partisan, I try to step back and look to see whether my rhetoric is hitting home or is simply over the top. The argument can be made by some that the two major parties both want the same things to serve us all but just want to accomplish them in different ways.
But with the Republican tax cut bills that have recently passed the House and Senate, this naïve argument is being blown up to smithereens!
Of course, tax cuts favoring the wealthy have been part of the Republican playbook going back to Ronald Reagan. The claim has always been that this giveaway to the wealthy results in a 'trickle down' effect that benefits those who are lower in the economic food chain. But this promised trickle down effect has always been proven to be an illusion. The rich keep their gains and the government suffers a shortfall in tax receipts. Then to address the resulting deficits, Republicans then demand cuts in social programs such as food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare. Rinse, repeat.
With this present version, they are at it again. To justify a proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, we are told by President Trump and others that the resulting corporate tax savings will result in more hiring and an average wage boost of $4,000.
If you’re going to tell a lie, tell the big lie! Corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. In the past, they have always taken the money and used it for stock buybacks and/or increasing the dividends they pay out to their stockholders. This is good for the corporations and their wealthy investors, but does nothing for the average worker.
In addition, the different bills propose to either significantly cut or eliminate all estate taxes which benefits only the very richest families in America – like not coincidentally, the Trumps. But Republicans love their rich people and don’t seem to care about anybody else.  For example, we have this tone deaf quote from Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."
But what makes this round of tax cuts especially egregious is that tax increases on the middle and lower classes are being proposed to help finance this giveaway to corporations and the wealthy! Even so, this is still being peddled as a middle class tax cut – another example of the big lie! The details behind how the House and Senate bills were put together are a bit too involved to include here. But the interested reader can check this link to learn more.
And just as bad, mainstream economists who have crunched the numbers are forecasting an additional $1 trillion will be added to the US national debt over the next 10 years!
All of this is from a party of proclaimed deficit hawks. For example, some of the more extreme members of Congress would not even agree to relief funds for Hurricane Sandy unless an offsetting budget cut was found elsewhere. A more recent example is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which is still awaiting funding because according to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch "we don't have any money anymore."
As to the real reason for the proposed tax cuts, some Republicans unafraid of being voted out by people who don’t know any better have actually admitted that this is all about a payback to their donors.
And with confidence that the tax cut bill will soon pass, there is already talk about cutting welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. Told you so!
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America's deficit. 
“We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” 
This takes incredible balls. Think about it! Ryan and his fellow Republicans want to give corporations and the wealthy a huge tax cut which will explode the deficit on the backs of the middle and lower classes. And then he wants to cut programs that benefit these middle and lower class people to try and address this same deficit he just created!  For those who are still unconvinced that tax cuts do little more than explode deficits, Kansas served as a “real live experiment” in conservative governance where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback got to cut taxes to his heart’s content just to prove the validity of his right-wing ideology.  The result was little or no growth along with a huge shortfall in tax receipts to the point where Kansas was no longer able to properly fund their public education system. Unlike the federal government, state governments cannot resort to deficit financing so the Republican legislature had no choice but to raise taxes by overriding a veto by Brownback.,
The tax cut legislation still hasn’t made it to the finish line at the President’s desk for signing into law. The House and Senate versions that were passed have some significant differences that are being reconciled so a single bill can be passed again by the House and Senate to be signed into law by the president.
One thing for sure is that the revote in the Senate will again be extremely close. The result may be influenced by the special Senate election on December 12 in Alabama won by Democrat Doug Jones. As is well known, the Republican candidate was Roy Moore, a blatant bigot who has been accused of molesting a number of teenage girls, including a 14 year old while he was in his 30s. While some supporters claim to be unsure of the charges, others who say they believe the charges still supported Moore because his vote in Congress is more important than worrying about sending an accused pedophile to Congress. That’s sociopathic if you ask me!
Recent events have only accelerated Republican efforts to frantically pass this bill. First, with the surprise election win by Jones, the Senate wants to vote on this bill before he is sworn in which would decrease the Republican razor-thin majority there. Secondly, as more details of the tax cut bill are revealed, it is becoming ever more unpopular with the American public, the most recent polls showing only about a 29% approval rating. Earlier this year when Congress was voting on a repeal of Obamacare, many Republicans received a rude reception from angry constituents back home afraid of losing their health insurance. Well, those protests are back! And helping to drive these same protesters is a sneaky provision in the bill to eliminate the individual mandate in Obamacare to recover some of the money given out as part of the tax cuts. Without this requirement for everybody to have health insurance, the stability of the insurance exchanges could be extremely compromised which could have some big effects which may possibly turn out to be a deal breaker for some moderate Republicans.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that repealing the mandate would result in 13 million fewer people being covered by health insurance and would cause insurance companies to raise premiums by 10 percent a year.
You don’t have to believe a liberal like me to see that the Republican Party has become morally bankrupt. Just check out this growing list of Republican politicians and pundits who have either turned on their party and/or President Trump.  
I will close with this recent sample of some of the vitriol coming from many conservative commentators, The G.O.P. is Rotting by David Brooks.
Today’s tax cuts have no bipartisan support. They have no intellectual grounding, no body of supporting evidence. They do not respond to the central crisis of our time. They have no vision of the common good, except that Republican donors should get more money and Democratic donors should have less.
The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive — moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: “I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.”

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