Two years ago, I had a highly recommended post excerpting various pundits on both sides of the aisle forthrightly describing the increasing insanity of the Republican party. The point was that the danger presented by Republicans was so obvious that a new genre of punditry arguably had been invented — the effort to concisely capture the madness of the modern Republican party. (Given that this post was pre-Donald Trump, the quotes are even more prescient than we understood.)
I realized that the same phenomena is happening today with respect to the Republicans’ new “Bring Back The Gilded Age” tax proposals. Once again, we can't say that we weren’t warned:
So this isn’t just ordinary class warfare; it’s class warfare aimed at perpetuating inequality into the next generation. Taken together, the elements of both the House and the Senate bills amount to a more or less systematic attempt to lavish benefits on the children of the ultra-wealthy while making it harder for less fortunate young people to achieve upward social mobility.
Or to put it differently, the tax legislation Republicans are trying to ram through Congress with indecent haste, without hearings or time for any kind of serious study, looks an awful lot like an attempt not simply to reinforce plutocracy, but to entrench a hereditary plutocracy.
None of this is to say that the Republican plan is worth supporting. I personally oppose it because of the way it explodes the deficits. Second, the level of largess to corporate shareholders is frankly ridiculous. It piles one corporate tax cut on top of another like piling a chocolate sundae on top of chocolate cake on top of a Toblerone bar.
The 1986 tax reform effort took two years of bipartisan work to complete. This year, the House GOP leadership wrote a bill behind closed doors and passed it in two weeks – literally just 14 days.
Benen Bonus: What we’re left with is practically a caricature of Republican policymaking: under the Republican tax plan, the rich would pay less, many in the middle class would pay more, millions would lose their health care benefits in order to help finance tax breaks for the wealthy, and many who keep their coverage would end up facing higher costs.
The Republican tax bill has gone from bad to completely, bugshit nuts. . . . This is not a typo. By 2027, middle-class taxpayers will, on average, pay about $400 more than they would under current law. The rich will pay several thousand dollars less. . . . Have Republicans gone crazy? They can’t seriously be thinking of passing this thing, can they?
It’s hardly surprising that the Republicans are applying their solution to every problem (recession, inflation, wartime, high budget deficit, high budget surplus) to this particular problem. The perverse thing is that this version of a regressive tax cut comes attached to proposals to inflict pain upon the very constituents who are turning against them. The House Republican tax plan would raise taxes on a quarter of all households, including almost half of all middle-class families. It is especially brutal to middle- and upper-middle-class taxpayers in blue states, because it would scale back the federal tax deduction for state and local income taxes. . . . But it so happens that these states also contain some of the most politically vulnerable House Republicans. What they designed as an act of sadism turns out to be an act of masochism.
Virtually everything Republicans say about taxes today is a lie. Tax cuts and tax rate reductions will not pay for themselves; they never have. Republicans don’t even believe they will, they are just excuses to slash spending for the poor when revenues collapse and deficits rise. There is no evidence that tax reform raises growth, although it may improve fairness and tax administration. And the Republican idea that tax increases always crash the economy is belied by the experiences after Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993 and Barack Obama did the same in 2013. The economy grew nicely and the stock market boomed in both cases.
Having helped open the Pandora’s Box of Republican tax cutting, I have tried for many years to close it again. I am trying again now.
[Republican] predictions about the awe-inspiring growth that their tax cuts will produce are going to become even more fantastical than they have been in the past. “Controversial” and “optimistic” is one way to describe the Republican rationale; you might also use “delusional” and “laughable,” or even “dishonest” and “cynical.” If you want an analogy, this is something like Republicans saying that they can cure all disease and allow everyone to live to 150 by distributing those titanium necklaces that idiot baseball players wear because they think it realigns their bioelectric currents.
As Trump has said, the right tax cut can improve an already-improving economy. But Trump’s plan seems exquisitely designed to ignore America’s economic challenges and accentuate its unequal returns. Record corporate profits and unprecedented stock valuations, juxtaposed with weak median income growth this century, together make a strong case for a completely different law, one that would direct tax benefits toward the middle class. But that plan isn’t coming from the White House. Just as Trump couldn’t sell health care reform because, by Republicans’ own estimation, he refused to learn the details, Trump can’t sell tax reform for the same reason.
To sell their tax plan, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have constructed an impressive alternate reality: Getting rid of the estate tax is great for farmers! If the bill passes as written, Donald Trump will “get killed” financially! Tax cuts will pay for themselves! Trickle-down economics works! But on Thursday night, the G.O.P. came face to face with something they can’t fib their way out of, and that could very well doom their holy grail: math.
As a result, Blue State Democrats are cut out of the democratic process and forced to disproportionately pay for Republicans’ destructive tax policies.
This once got Americans mad. Is it catchy enough of a rallying cry to yell: “No taxation [policy] without representation!”
It is barely an exaggeration to say that Republican Party leaders have stretched the fabric of American democracy to its breaking point for the privilege of cutting their donors’ taxes.
Now they intend to compound the damage by exacerbating economic inequality, by offsetting the enormous cost of those donor-class tax cuts with tax increases for tens of millions of American workers, and higher health care premiums—or lost insurance—for millions more.
The central challenge facing Republican legislators who want to reward their donors with enormous, permanent business tax cuts is to construct a bill that, on paper, will not increase the deficit after the budget window closes 10 years from now. The central challenge facing the rest of us is to recognize that the way they plan to do this breaks faith with the public just as did their misbegotten health care repeal bills, which the public rejected as morally unacceptable.
Republicans need not have proceeded in this fashion. They could have undertaken revenue-neutral corporate-tax reform and tax cuts only for those making, say, less than $75,000. That, however, would not have pleased their big donors. Now the GOP will pay the political price for a bait-and-switch, just as it did on Trumpcare, which paid for tax cuts for the very rich by cutting Medicaid. Republicans seem incapable of avoiding these reverse Robin Hood schemes. Perhaps they really do care only about the rich.
I’m referring primarily to their proposed massive tax cut to the super-wealthy, the abolition of the estate tax, and their bid to add over a trillion dollars to the debt.
How on earth does the GOP defend this? They argue that the US economy desperately needs a boost. This was not a position they held in 2009, as the global economy was teetering on collapse, and as the US economy was close to its worst crisis since the 1930s. The House GOP coughed up one single vote for massive tax cuts at that time … because they insisted that we couldn’t add to the debt, even as a depression loomed. But apparently, debt-fueled growth is urgent now that unemployment claims have hit a 44-year low, the Dow is at a record high, we are still in the longest recovery in history, and the debt is far greater than it was in 2009.
This is so perverse it could not possibly be entertained without massive amnesia, extreme partisanship, or a need to have something – anything – to point to in 2018.
We are told that there still are responsible Republicans. . . . Well, responsible Republicans, your time has come. You have the power to say a loud no to cavalier, partisan legislating; no to budgetary folly; no to wrecking the health-care law; and no to a bill that would impose real sacrifice on your constituents down the road. Yes, you’ll enrage your colleagues. But history will treat you better.
“The deal is so bad for rich people, I had to throw in the estate tax just to give them something.”