Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why Republicans don't care what we think about the tax cut bill

Why are these guys laughing?
Why are these guys laughing (at you)?

Steve Benen explores Why Republicans are ignoring public attitudes on the tax plan and Scriber asks why the GOPlins are laughing at us.

At this point, the debate over whether the American mainstream supports the Republicans’ regressive tax plan is over. Surveys have been consistent for months: the public just isn’t buying what the GOP is selling.

Donald Trump boasted the other day that the more Americans learn about the plan, “the more popular it becomes.” That’s wrong to the point of delusion, as evidenced by every recent independent survey. The latest report on the USA Today/Suffolk University poll noted that the GOP tax plan has the lowest level of public support of “any major piece of legislation enacted in the past three decades.”

With this in mind, we can safely look past the question of whether the plan enjoys public support – it obviously doesn’t – and consider two related points: (1) why the plan is so unpopular; and (2) why Republicans don’t care,

On the first point, despite some recent GOP claims to the contrary, tax cuts tend to be well liked. So why isn’t this one? I suspect it’s partly the result of Republicans misreading the political landscape: as the debate got underway, the public said it didn’t want massive tax breaks for big corporations and the very wealthy. GOP policymakers, rejecting the faux populism behind Trump’s pitch, did the opposite of what most Americans requested (and what the party promised).

It didn’t help that Republicans wrote a hyper-partisan bill, lied about it, and pushed their plan at a ridiculous pace without any real scrutiny – making this look more like a heist than a serious attempt at overhauling the federal tax code.

Common sense suggests that, in a democracy, politicians wouldn’t rush to vote for a dramatic and highly consequential proposal that the American mainstream hates. And yet, here we are. At last count, literally every Senate Republican backs the plan, and when the House votes tomorrow, the number of GOP dissenters is expected to be modest, at best. So why is it, exactly, that the Republican majority is so indifferent toward Americans’ attitudes?

Benen lists six possibilities.

(1) Maybe Republicans think the public will be impressed that they finally accomplished something.

(2) Perhaps Republicans are trying to make donors happy.

(3) Perhaps this is the GOP’s last hurrah. They’re going to lose power shortly no matter what they do, so they’re trying to put their stamp on the future while they still have the chance.

(4) Maybe “wingnut welfare” is on Republicans’ minds. [Perhaps they are] “trying to please the donors and lobbyists who can give them jobs after they’re voted out”.

(5) Do Republicans think they’ve immunized themselves from all backlashes? They can do as they please because, in their minds, the consent of the governed is now little more than an annoying, irrelevant detail.

It may be that all of these play some role in the GOP’s disregard for public opinion. But Scriber likes Benen’s sixth reason.

… I’m partial toward 6. Republicans actually believe their own talking points. My best guess is that the vast majority of GOP lawmakers simply believe that the American mainstream is made up of cranks and fools who fail to understand the awesome power of trickle-down economics. Republicans are ignoring public opinion because, in their imaginations, they’ll ultimately be rewarded by voters who will soon discover that cutting taxes for the wealthy and big corporations will produce broad economic prosperity – just like in Kansas.

Once regressive, poorly-thought-out tax cuts work wonders, we’ll all collectively apologize for our silly assumptions and thank our Republican betters for ignoring the American public – not to mention economists, the JCT, the CBO, business leaders, labor unions, all of modern history, et al – and creating an economic utopia.

That, I suspect, is the Republicans’ real rationale.

Scriber is on board with #6 because it fits so well with the beliefs of Trump and the members of the GOP Congress that Americans are chumps and deserve no respect. Last Friday I connected some dots in Disrespect for workers binds Trump and the GOP. I concluded: “That contempt for others, the lack of respect particularly for workers, is shared by Trump and the GOP. And that is a deep psychological reason why the GOP will not abandon Trump.” And that is one reason why neither Trump nor Ryan care about what working Americans think about the tax breaks for the wealthy. With the vote on the tax cut bill looming, Trump and the Republicans in Congress are about to stick it to us no matter what. And they are laughing about it.

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