Monday, November 27, 2017

GOPlins want a tax bill for all the wrong reasons - personalities and politics, not practical policies.

Stephen Collinson (CNN) is counting the days left in Trump’s first year: Tired of winning? Clock ticks down on Trump’s first year.

President Donald Trump has just one month left to salvage a lost legislative year in a presidency that he vowed would be an endless victory lap — but has yet to produce a major new law that reshapes the nation.

The President’s road to a congressional win could be paved by passing the first sweeping tax reform package in decades, which would appease restive Republican voters and represent an undeniable personal political triumph.

Back in D.C., big week for Tax Cuts and many other things of great importance to our Country,” Trump tweeted Sunday night. “Senate Republicans will hopefully come through for all of us. The Tax Cut Bill is getting better and better. The end result will be great for ALL!”

That may be the only thing that is “undeniable.” Other than for the sexual harassment scandals, the legal entanglements (most recently a law suit over Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), and the Russia collusion probe, the tax cut bill will prove Donald Trump’s definition of “ALL” to be Orwellian double-speak.

Republican senators openly admit that their supporters could deal them a rebuke in November if they fail to produce tangible results for their lease on power by passing the tax reform bill.

[Other Senators including] Outspoken Republican Trump opponents, such as Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, must decide whether to hand a victory that could strengthen a President they have argued is barely fit for office.

Democrats must decide whether to make government funding conditional on their priorities — including the renewal of a children’s health care program and a rescue of undocumented migrants brought to the US as children, who are facing deportation.

Disagreement between the parties on those issues could spark a period of political brinkmanship and a government shutdown before Christmas.

The tax and government funding showdowns could also be colored by the question of whether Democratic gains in this November’s elections are a dark omen for Republicans heading into midterm polls.

So the benchmark that caps Trump’s first year is the passage of some version of a tax cut bill. But that is far from certain and carries its own negative political baggage.

The NY Times editorial board shows the GOP tax bills to be The Republican Tax on the Future.

Of all the lies Republican lawmakers and President Trump tell about their tax bills, the biggest whopper is that these windfall tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would generate so much growth that they would pay for themselves.

The House and Senate tax bills probably would provide a tiny lift to the economy for a couple years — enough, supporters no doubt hope, for them to cynically claim success. It’s what comes next that the G.O.P. glosses over: the addition of more than a trillion dollars to the federal debt in just 10 years. Far from paying for themselves, these cuts would leave a bill for several future generations to pay off.

In other words, Republican leaders aren’t just trying to transfer money from current middle-class and poor Americans to corporations and the very wealthy. They are also trying to transfer money from future middle-class and poor Americans to corporations and the very wealthy.

Trump estimates the 10-year impact of the tax cuts on the GDP to be over 10%. McConnell is more conservative in his estimate of 4%. The Tax Policy Center, along with most economists, predict virtually little to no change, less than 1%. Thus, the Republican’s claim that the tax cuts will pay for themselves is a giant “whopper.”

Republicans appear to be hoping that Americans would be so happy with temporary tax cuts that would kick in next year that they would look for someone other than Mr. Trump or Mr. Ryan to blame when things didn’t work out as promised. But if the vast majority of serious economists are right, these bills would bring nothing but bad news. At least three Republican senators need to vote no to stop that from happening. Surely there are three such lawmakers with the integrity and decency to stop this boondoggle. [Scriber can think of three: Corker, Flake, and McCain.]

The fate of the tax cut bill may well hinge on competing factions in the senate. As noted above, there are senators who genuinely worry about how the tax cuts will harm the middle class, slow the economy, and place a debt burden on future Americans. Then there is Orin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, who is on a personal mission to get a tax bill passed. CNN reports that Hatch’s big moment arrives as tax fight heads to Senate floor. You might have caught the testy exchange between Hatch and Sherrod Brown. (If not, the CNN report has the link to the video clip.)

He has few votes to spare with Republicans holding a 52-seat majority in the Senate. Some GOP lawmakers are wavering and Democratic opposition is loud and insistent. There’s no clear strategy for Hatch to win over some lawmakers without alienating others. Meanwhile, polling suggests voters are opposed to the GOP tax plans and Hatch’s negotiating skills could be undercut by persistent rumors that he will soon retire, with Mitt Romney positioned to succeed him.

But perhaps the biggest challenge facing Hatch is the existential crisis emerging from Republicans anxious that they haven’t racked up any legislative accomplishments this year despite the party holding complete control of Washington. That’s creating a sense of urgency to pass something — virtually anything — that they can show voters going into next year’s midterm elections.

“He wants this passed, and you see the passion in it. He’s not going to let anything get in his way.”

That passion, as well as the pressure he faces, was evident during an unusual outburst from Hatch just before the Thanksgiving recess as the Finance committee considered the tax bill. The normally genteel chairman, long-commended for seeking out bipartisan alliances with the likes of Ted Kennedy, upbraided Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown for claiming the tax bill would only benefit the rich.

”I really resent anybody saying that I’m just doing this for the rich. Give me a break,” Hatch told the Ohio senator, noting he’d “come from poor people.”

“We didn’t have anything,” he went on, “so don’t spew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap.”

Later on Twitter, Hatch made it clear passing the legislation is personal for him, reminding his followers that he “grew up in a shack with a Meadow Gold Dairy (billboard) sign for a wall.” Hatch has said that he and his wife lived in a chicken coop during law school, and he has joked over the years that after growing up in a house without indoor plumbing: “I never pass a bathroom by.”

So our economy, the prosperity of the middle class (or lack thereof), and the likely debt burden by future generations all depend on one Senator’s personal stake in passage of an awful tax bill. Never mind that it carries risks for the party in power.

Joe Scarborough shows how Republicans are repeating a reckless cycle which might very well cost them at the polls next year.

… the same conservatives who promised voters they would never again be as reckless as they were under Bush are repeating the same old cycle of big tax cuts, big spending increases and no fiscal restraint. As Maya Angelou said, when people show you who they are, believe them. And for four decades, the Republican Party has shown itself to be the party of reckless budgets, runaway deficits and exploding entitlement spending. Just because the GOP donor class is willing to overlook those glaring failures in exchange for a corporate tax cut doesn’t mean other voters will be so blind. This is another Republican tax plan that helps the rich, hurts the poor, increases inequality and blows a hole in the debt. It will also lead to more GOP losses at the polls next year. To the big-money donors driving this bill, all I can say is good luck with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [Scriber: One can hope.]

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