Tax "Reform" Is the Ugly, Corrupt Soul of the Republican Party

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Tax "Reform" Is the Ugly, Corrupt Soul of the Republican Party

There used to be two certainties in America—death and taxes. Now there is a third: Trump Will Do Wrong. It is known. When the people of America mutter the refrain “thoughts and prayers,” those thoughts and prayers include these words “Do not let the President do or say anything ever again.” Of course, these wishes are not granted.

Now, two of the three certainties have joined forces. Since the beginning of Trump’s Administration—in fact, since the beginning of the Republicans—tax “reform” has been the dearest cause of the party. Here is what Republican tax “reform” means: “we want to rewrite the tax code so the rich pay less.” Per Investopedia:

On Wednesday, September 27, several media outlets published a nine-page document in which the “Big Six” group of White House and congressional Republican negotiators laid out their plans for a bill to overhaul the federal tax code.

The White House is pushing for this, despite reports that only one-third of Americans support the Trump plan, and only 24 percent think they’ll be better off under the plan, according to CNN.

Business Insider reported that the tax cuts were ready to roll:

After deliberating on the fiscal year 2018 budget over the past two days, the Senate is expected to take up a vote on the resolution on Wednesday. The House passed its own substantially different version of a budget on October 5. The Senate budget will include what is known as reconciliation instructions, which will allow Republicans to eventually pass a tax reform bill through the chamber with a simple majority and avoid a Democratic filibuster. This is important since the GOP only holds a slim 52-seat majority.

Why is this important? Because Trump has failed everything he has tried, which means his host-body, the Republican Party, has failed too. Read the list, and see the ruins of conservative ambition: Travel ban? Nope. Repeal Obamacare? Nothing doing. The great infrastructure bill? Not even attempted. Is the NFL still alive and well? It is. The President desperately needs a win. The GOP desperately wants a cut. That’s the reason why they’re doubling down on “tax reform.”

Any road will do, if it leads them to the Golden Mountain. And if they have to use the Idiot President, they will. They are that devoid of principle. My favorite living example of the Republican Tolerance for Trump is Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin is Treasury Secretary. You know him: the foreclosure king. His wife, Louise Linton, made fun of middle-class people on Instagram. Mnuchin, who I imagine has several impressive spider glands implanted in various body-pockets, made millions kicking people out of their homes. “It’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy,” he told the press the other day. He was talking about tax cuts for the rich as a side-effect of cutting taxes for everyone, but it was pretty clear what his intentions were. Even CNBC thought so:

That represents a dramatic reversal from Mnuchin’s initial assertions on the subject. After last November’s election, he appeared on CNBC to pledge that wealthy Americans would receive no tax cut whatsoever. “Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “SquawkBox” then. “When we work with Congress and go through this, it will be very clear: This is a middle-income tax cut.”

No, it isn’t. The Trump tax cut is class war of the most egregious kind. It’ll shovel cash into the pockets of the people who already own the country. Bush’s cut in 2001 was a similar give-away to the one percent, but as Josh Marshall points out, they hid the cut very well. It was a slick, almost Clintonian move. Marshall wrote: “The gains for middle and lower income people were meager, arguably trivial. But the Bush team could say accurately that there was relief for everyone or close to everyone. The political logic of doing this is obvious.” The Trump “reform” raises taxes on lots of people. Marshall again:

Big picture, it’s a massive tax cut for the very wealthy and the mind-bogglingly wealthy, paid for – among other things – by a substantial tax increase for the upper middle class and the only moderately wealthy. The moderately wealthy can probably afford to pay higher taxes. Why they should do so to fund massive cuts for the extremely wealthy isn’t at all clear. ... The bill also ends tax deductions that are mainly enjoyed by people in blue states. The biggest example is the ability to deduct state income taxes against federal taxes. This hits lots of voters in states with significant income taxes, many quite wealthy but also a lot of middle class families.

Mnuchin is a soulless man; but standing next to the President, you could almost imagine he had one. It’s a miracle by means of comparison. Like Tillerson, like Mattis, like Kelly, he’s putting up with Trump until he can get what he wants. Mnuchin stands for the Republican Party. Matt Latimer wrote about this phenomenon in Politico, and it’s worth quoting at length:

The reason the tax cut bill is a danger to Trump is that it’s the one last thing keeping the bulk of his own party in line behind him … so many Washington Republicans, inside and outside Congress, are still on board, publicly at least, with a president they clearly denigrate and despise. His own secretary of state may or may not have called his boss a moron. A respected Republican senator publicly questioned Trump’s competence and stability and said he was moving America to the brink of World War III. A special counsel is aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption and collusion that could go all the way to the Oval Office. Trump’s poll ratings are, to borrow a word, sad. He has repeatedly insulted the Republican Senate leader and his colleagues.

Faced with all that, especially after Charlottesville and Puerto Rico and endless Twitter feuds and casual falsehoods, you might think any number of GOPers, who notoriously place a priority on their own reputations and careers, would have jumped ship by now—even calling the president unfit to serve in office. Many of them assuredly think that, but none of them has gone as far as to say so publicly. Not yet.

There’s a good reason for this—and it’s not that they are gutless wonders, though some undoubtedly are. Trump still has one crucial final task before he can be thrown to the wolves: He must sign a tax reform bill. After that, the wolves can have their quarry.

I like to imagine the GOP as a heap of dirt-speckled stones lashed together by twine. Reagan held them together, but the string’s been unraveling for thirty years. Tax cuts are the last thread holding together the Republican party.

The reasons are simple: tax cuts are their soul. The GOP is a device of the rich, and the wealthy hate paying taxes. They will ford any river, climb the highest mountain, sleep naked in ice caves, drink the illest cocktails in Dallas, to avoid giving their fair share. As a philosophy, conservatism exists to protect the privileged. It is the moon and the stars of the right. They don’t much care how they get there: the tax cut, the tax cut!

To get the tax cut in the next year, the Republicans know they have to sit through the crimes of Trump, and they’re okay with that. What does it matter if there’s a war, a crisis, the slow death of Puerto Rico? The tax cut comes first. It’s why they’re risking nuclear war: they really, really want that tax cut. It is their Szechuan Sauce: the petty fetish object that actually isn’t so great, but they’ve got to have it. What does it profit a man, to keep his soul but lose a deduction on his ninth house?

The tax cut! Yes! The GOP has never been serious about cutting government spending. Not during Reagan, when military spending went up and the deficit bloomed, and not any time afterward. Oh, they object to social spending. The Republicans are disgusted by any government outlay that does not direct the flow of capital to their patrons. But they’re just dandy with the correct kind of spending. If they hated Washington outlay, they’d object to military appropriations. But they won’t, and never will.

There are plenty of taxes to reform in America. Why, Alabama, a celebrated shrine of liberty, has instituted an unconstitutional poll tax. According to the Guardian, Alabama’s “new poll tax” will bar thousands of people from voting. In Alabama, “and eight other states from Nevada to Tennessee, anyone who has lost the franchise cannot regain it until they pay off any outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution.” Stripping people of the right to vote because they’re felons is wrong. Even after you leave jail, your right to vote is removed. That means if you’ve overused a credit card and haven’t paid the balance, you can’t vote in eight states. Why doesn’t the GOP care about that tax? I think we know the reason why. That’s the nature of wealth, you see: there’s enough for everyone, but never enough for just one.

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