Friday, December 1, 2017

McCain will vote to approve GOPlin tax cuts, trillion dollar deficit bump and all.

Here’s a good one in the “significant digits” email from 538. I follow with Tim Steller’s expose’ of John McCain as the quintessential rich guy who will likely gain from the Republican tax cut bill. He is likely to vote to approve said tax cuts.

$1 trillion
The GOP is reportedly reworking its tax package on the news that the Senate bill would cost $1.4 billion and (after accounting for inflation) only generate enough economic growth to lower that cost by $407 billion. As a result, there’s a $1 trillion funding hole in the tax proposal. [Bloomberg]

Here is more: Senate Suspends Bill Votes to Friday Morning: Tax Debate Update.

Apparently, AZ Sen. John McCain is on board with the “tax reform” bill. (That’s Orwellian double speak for “tax breaks for the rich.”

Republican John McCain of Arizona said in a statement Thursday that he’s decided to support the Senate tax bill — helping GOP leaders get one step closer to passing their overhaul.

McCain hadn’t taken an official position on the tax plan until now — and no one was taking his vote for granted after he shocked the political world by voting against a rushed attempt to demolish the Affordable Care Act this summer.

“I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families,” McCain said in the statement.

Speaking of “rich”, McCain is one of those really rich guys. Tim Steller writes in his Friday Notebook: The rich run the government for themselves.

It gets frustrating to see big money win over and over again, to see the wins accelerate, to watch them build on each other.

That’s what struck me when Sen. John McCain announced Thursday he would vote to support the big tax bill in the U.S. Senate. I refuse to call it tax “reform” because that word has long since been perverted beyond recognition by people aiming to convince the populace to support policies that benefit rich people.

Ages ago, back in September 2017, McCain took a dramatic stand against the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, saying that the Senate should not pass the bill since it wasn’t created through “regular order.” In other words, a massive, sweeping bill should not be pushed through without significant committee hearings, on a single-party basis, without the senators having a lengthy opportunity to know what they’re voting on before the bill comes for a vote.

McCain claimed Thursday, in announcing his support, that this help-the-rich tax bill was arrived at through “regular order.” That’s bull. On Thursday, senators still didn’t know exactly what was in the bill, even as they were preparing to vote on it. Highly irregular order.

Some features were clear though. Corporate tax cuts were permanent, the estate tax that affects only the richest was slashed, the carried-interest loophole that benefits only the rich was left in place. Tax cuts for some in the middle-class, though, were only temporary. It’s what today passes as “reform” — something good for the wealthy with theoretical-at-best benefits for the rest.

But we should not be surprised that McCain violated the principle that he established only two months ago when it came to this help-the-rich bill. That’s because McCain is rich and so are his important campaign donors.

He married into the wealthy Hensley family, which owns the big Phoenix beverage distributor. Looking over his 2016 financial disclosure, the last one McCain filed, I see he and his wife Cindy (Hensley) McCain had numerous reportable accounts. Six were mutual funds worth between $500,000 and $1 million, 16 were mutual fund accounts worth $250,000 to $500,000, and 13 were mutual fund accounts worth $100,000 to $250,000.

There were more such accounts, and that’s just the beginning of the assets, held mostly in Cindy McCain’s name. She owned a residence in La Jolla and another near Sedona each worth more than $1 million, a stake in the Arizona Diamondbacks worth between $500,000 and $1 million, and a parking lot worth the same. Finally, there was more than $1 million worth of Hensley and Co. common stock.

The tax bill benefits people like them.

But leave aside McCain and this tax bill. Look at one simple detail from Arizona’s current politics. As the Legislature has steadily cut corporate taxes, the state has become increasingly strapped, and the staffing at the Revenue Department has dropped sharply. There were 30 corporate tax auditors in 2001; now there are six.

The result, as The Arizona Republic reported, has been that revenue from audits dropped from $155 million in 2016 to $80 million in 2017. The rich and the corporations pay for the candidates’ campaigns, and they are rewarded with lower and lower tax bills, or with not paying what they owe because they have no fear of being caught.

In Arizona as in the country, the political system has been handed over to the wealthy.

Former attorney general Terry Goddard has launched an initiative campaign that could have a small effect. It would force anyone who donates $10,000 or more to influence Arizona elections to reveal their identities.

That’s a pretty high threshold, mind you. A $9,500 donation should probably be disclosed as well.

But you can bet the wealthy donors who support the campaigns will fight it. They’re already claiming, through Gov. Doug Ducey who benefits from anonymous, wealthy donors, that they have a First Amendment right to run the government from behind a curtain. They won’t give that up easily. The rich run government for themselves first and dress up their self-serving policies in words like “reform.”

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