When it comes to the GOP in the senate, the basket of deplorables overfloweth.
John Cassidy (The New Yorker), speaking for many others, knows that The Passage of the Senate Republican Tax Bill Was a Travesty.
When historians write about the broader atrophy of the American system of governance, the passage of the 2017 tax-reform bill will be an illuminating event to dwell upon. Whatever the Founding Fathers had in mind, it surely can’t have resembled the unedifying spectacle that played out in the Senate this week. When the delayed vote on the Senate version of the G.O.P’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act finally took place, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the sole Republican to dissent was Senator Bob Corker, of Tennessee.
That means that 51 Republicon senators voted for anything in order to claim that they have achieved a legislative something. In the end they got a something that was worse than nothing.
Four G.O.P. senators who had been mentioned as possible holdouts—Susan Collins, of Maine; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska; and John McCain and Jeff Flake, of Arizona—all voted for a proposal that is unnecessary, unfair, and still largely unexamined.
It is so unexamined because the senators had no hope of understanding the hand-written scribbles added just hours before the vote. In his post Senate passes GOP tax bill for the Oligarchy, AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona) has the photos of the stuff that was being added in the margins.
This tax bill was drafted by Senate GOP leadership in secret without Democratic input, committee hearings, stakeholder or public testimony or input (both stakeholders and the public are opposed to this terrible bill), and was just introduced last week, with only a markup before the Senate Finance Committee which reported out the bill on a party-line vote, so that it could be rushed to a vote by the end of this week before anyone could discover what is actually in it.
… none of the GOP senators who voted in favor of this bill can honestly say that they actually read the bill or even knew what was in it because illegible handwritten changes were being made in the margins of the draft bill reported out by the Senate Finance Committee. …
In case you hadn’t yet noticed before the tax bill vote, there are no moderates among the Republican senators. Ms. Moderate Susan Collins and Jeff “the book author” Flake sold their votes for little to nothing. Cassidy resumes.
Collins, in return for her yes vote, did extract one concession for households that aren’t members of the plutocracy: the final bill allowed homeowners to continue to deduct up to ten thousand dollars in state and local property taxes. But the bill also included the repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health-care insurance, a provision that would undo much of the good Collins did when she voted against the Republican health-care bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it would raise the number of uninsured Americans by thirteen million, and raise the premiums on individual plans by ten per cent. Using a tax bill to abolish the individual mandate amounts to a backdoor way of sabotaging Obamacare. Collins, Murkowski, and McCain have yet to explain why they went along with it.
The three so-called deficit hawks—Corker, Flake, and McCain—didn’t get anything to allay their concerns about fiscal stability. After the Senate parliamentarian ruled out Corker’s proposal for a “trigger mechanism” to raise taxes if the budget deficit hit a certain level, the Republican leadership dropped the idea of having a fallback method to restrain the deficit. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper on Capitol Hill, the Senate bill would boost the deficit by a trillion dollars over the next ten years. To raise this money, the U.S. Treasury would have to issue another trillion dollars in debt, which would add to the nation’s already formidable borrowings. By 2027, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio, a key measure of fiscal solvency, will be approaching a hundred per cent.
Corker, to his credit, voted no. McCain, who, in 2001, voted against the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that they were fiscally irresponsible, voted yes this time without comment. Flake, in a statement explaining his assent, said that he had supported the idea of cutting corporate taxes for twenty years. He also claimed to have received assurances “from the Senate leadership and the Administration” to “enact fair and permanent protections for daca recipients.” Since Flake is resigning next year and Trump has already called him “toast,” these assurances are worth about as much as a certificate from Trump University.
For that Flake gets my vote for the most gullible SOB in congress.
A lot of what these toads voted for, as Cassidy says, remains “unexamined.” For example, Joan McCarter, writing in the Daily Kos, predicts that The Republican tax bill will end cancer treatment for Medicare patients.
If the Republican tax cuts bill becomes law, it will immediately trigger a $25 billion cut in Medicare. That’s because of mandatory spending cuts that will kick in as a result the tax bill’s $1.5 trillion increase to the deficit. The last time this happened, that Medicare cuts were forced, wasn’t that long ago. It was 2013. And as Sarah Kliff reminds us, what happened then was that cancer patients were turned away from clinics, because the clinics couldn’t afford the expensive chemotherapy drugs they were administering without Medicare offsetting the costs.
AZBlueMeanie characterizes the Republicon’s votes as showing “Blind faith in the trickle down tax fairy, unicorns and rainbows. God save us” then advises that This fight is not yet over. There is still a reconciled conformed bill which both chambers must pass. There is still a chance.