For a brief shining moment this morning, the skies parted and the angels trumpeted: Republicans were actually walking the walk when it came to the deficit. This Twitter headline from The Hill said it all: "Republicans fear Trump’s massive corporate tax cut will blow up the deficit." This lead me to believe, for just a few seconds, that Trump's unpopularity was forcing Republicans to live up to their own rhetoric for once in their lives. Even the first couple of paragraphs support that insanely optimistic hope:
President Trump’s sweeping proposal to cut corporate and business tax rates is raising GOP concerns about blowing up the deficit.
While most Republicans favor cutting taxes, worries that the proposal will spike the deficit are already leading to concerns it could cost Trump votes from his own party.“
Anything that completely spikes the ball with regard to deficits going forward I think will be problematic within the Congress,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).
Even if it was just worry about losing votes, it would show a level of responsiveness to average Americans the GOP hasn't had in decades.
I should have known better.
The Hill is still firmly mired in the "don't expose bad things about Republicans" mode of Beltway thinking so it took several more paragraphs before they explained what the real objections were:
Republicans are divided over whether the plan should be deficit-neutral.
Those who argue for deficit neutrality say this would make the cuts permanent while allowing for the use of budget rules that would prevent Democrats from using the filibuster.
Ah. Blowing up the deficit is not the problem, making sure the cuts are permanent is. How very...Republican.
Other Republicans are less concerned about making them permanent but they're quite eager for deficit spending (you don't say?) because they "know" the economic growth will make up the difference. Ten years of coddling the rich is better than nothing, right? Curiously, these are the same exact people that spent several years screaming that the deficit, and then the debt when Obama cut the deficit by a trillion dollars, would be the end of America, the world, and possibly all of creation. It's almost like they knew deficit spending was a long-proven method to get out of an economic slump but didn't want a Democratic president to be able to do it. But that's insane, of course. What kind of monster would inflict massive economic suffering on their fellow Americans just to score political points?
Accordingly, Republicans would very much like the Congressional Budget Office to use something called "dynamic scoring" to give them a favorable score on their multi-trillion dollar giveaway to the rich. "Dynamic scoring" employs a lot of what Paul Krugman describes as "magic asterisks" (assumptions that have zero grounding in reality) to work. In other words, "dynamic scoring" can be understood as "lying." Kind of like when a used car salesman tells a balding 40-year-old bachelor that this here mint condition 1979 Firebird will get him all the female companionship he could ever want, yessiree bob! The salesman gets what he wants and the poor schmuck he suckered gets to foot the bill for a piece of junk and a life full of bitterness.
The Hill forgets to mention that part.
The other main reason Republicans need Trump's tax cuts to be deficit-neutral is because if it's not, the Democrats will filibuster it with a huge shit-eating grin. First, to keep Trump and the Republicans from giving trillions away to the rich and second because, gee golly whiz!, isn't deficit spending the worst thing ever according to Republicans? Wouldn't want them to be hypocrites; that would just be awful! And what are Republicans going to do? Rail at the Democrats for not letting them blow up the deficit? Every single one of them has stood in front of a camera and bellowed about how deficit spending is the greatest of all evils. The campaign ads practically write themselves.
It used to be a lot easier to be two-faced hypocrites before the 24 hour news cycle and there's a very good chance Republicans will find that Trump's populist base, while enthralled with Trump's white nationalism, might not be as receptive to giving the rich yet another massive tax cut at their expense. But with time running out on Trump's presidency before the Russia scandal engulfs it, Republicans have got to move their agenda forward as quickly as possible and damn the electoral consequences. After all, someone has to stand up for the rich in America and Republicans are willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good of the 1%!
There are 558 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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