Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Game Plan

On Tuesday night, Lawrence O'Donnell (segment beginning at 18:43) interviewed Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Obama and Cinton.  Sperling noted of the Corporate Tax Cut Scam of 2017

This $1.5 trillion deficit increase is probably going to be larger when you actually take the gimmicks out. It could easily be closer to two trillion. So (Republican Tennessee Senator Bob) Corker says "well, let's put in a provision. It's kinf of like the whipping boy provision. If the corporate tax cuts don't bring in eonuth revenue, we'll raise taxes on middle-class Americans." Well, either that's not going to happen and it's a gimmick to give them cover for this huges deficit increase or it actually would raise taxes, actually when the economy is weak and make no sense at all.

Recognizing that obsessing over the deficit is bad policy (and probably bad politics), Charlie Pierce notes

The Deficit is about the fourth- or fifth-worst problem with what the Republicans are preparing to pass. Students will be hurt, so will the working poor. (God, Gene Sperling, enough with “the middle class.” When did Democrats decide that the poor were not part of the country?)

It took a while for Democrats to decide that the poor were not part of the country, enhanced by the realization that almost no voters care about the poor. But the lack of concern became evident in roughly late winter of 2008, when Party leadership and (admittedly) its voters decided that a primary race between three credible United States senators should be quickly winnowed to two of the individuals. (This was before the revelation about the sexual appetite of the other.)

The campaign would not be between one of the two candidates attempting to make "history" and the other candidate, John Edwards, who noticed two Americas, separate and unequal, wealthy and otherwise. It would be between the black male and the white woman, either of whose election would make "history," one ultimately doing so. Call it the prioritization of inherited characteristics over policy or something more pithy, but that was that.

The "two Americas," the rich set against the middle class and the poor, became the two Americas, well-educated and not, which worked out well for the Party in 2008 and boomeranged in 2016.

Nevertheless, it would be ironic if, while  suggesting policy should be more important for voters than race or gender, I would neglect arguably the most important policy implication of the Corporate Tax Cut Scam of 2017. Sperling continued

And I think what really is the concrn for so many people is that when they're raising $1.5 trillion deficit, you know, Lawrence,we know what they're going to do, the moment they do this, the  moment they make the deficit that much worse in the out years, they are going to go back and tell people they have no choice but to cut Medicare, Medicaid, maybe even Social Security. In fact,in their own budget, they have 473 in Medicare cuts and 1.3 trillion Medicaid. So when you look at what this is going to be, when you look at why this is going to be a bad deal for the middle class, it's not just that it raises their taxes, it's what they're going to do to make up for the debt increase they create, giving tax cuts for the top 1% and the largest companies in our country. 

Don't take it only from Democrat Gene Sperling. Bruce Bartlett, who served in the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations, concedes that while serving corporate donors is one objective of the GOP tax bill (hat tip to Steve M.)

.. The main reason is that a huge tax cut cements Republican policy into place even if Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House.

In fact, I think many Republicans know and expect that they may lose control of Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020. Their tax cut will ensure that the era of Democratic control will be brief and unpopular....

Republican deficit hawks, who are now AWOL, will suddenly reappear the moment Trump signs the tax cut. The media will be filled with reports from leading authorities about how the deficit endangers the country in a variety of ways, arguing that action must be taken immediately.

But taxes will be off the table because of the tax pledge. Therefore, all deficit reduction must come from spending cuts. And of course, defense cuts will be off the table. Therefore, the bulk of cuts will have to come from so-called entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare because that’s all that will be left.

That would make the Corporate Tax Cut Scam of 2017 the culmination of Paul Davis Ryan's wet dream. It also would be the wet dream of his Republican Party, whose strategy always has been to make government fail, thereby undermining voters' faith in government, thus spurring demand to slash and burn the government.... such as programs of earned benefits, Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid.

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