Friday, December 1, 2017

Why Dems May Need To Go "Nuclear" To Stop The Repuke Tax Bill

"Hey, , the longer we can bamboozle the base, the better!"

"We got to get this thing passed. Otherwise, our base will fracture, people will stop writin' checks, and the party will crumble under its own weight." Lindsey Graham yesterday.

Let's not mince words: the GOP tax "reform" bill on offer is an unmitigated atrocity. For starters:

- The corporate tax cut is intended to be made permanent, and going from 35% to 20%

- The tax cut for average citizens has been designed to "sunset" in 10 years, so taxes will then increase.

- The tax cut benefit overall for those earning less than $75,000 a year, is $100. That benefit may well come at the cost of cutting Medicaid, Medicare benefits later.

- The overall tax benefit is allotted so that 62 percent of the takings go to the top 1 percent.

- Allows drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.(ANWR)

- As reported by the NY Times there is also a plan to change from the Consumer Price Index to the Chained CPI, which move would essentially negate any future Social Security cost of living increases - certainly in a low inflation environment such as we have.

Last night this perfidy was at least temporarily stopped in its tracks,  even after the GOOPs grew giddy after John McCain reverted to sock puppet to back it.  However, a nonpartisan analysis released hours ahead of a planned vote projected the Republican tax plan would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.  Process that! ONE Trillion bucks! That's more than $200 b beyond the cost of the entire Obama stimulus package in 2009, which at least spared this nation from another Great Depression.

The other hit to the Reeps last night came by way of the nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian who ruled they could not use the "trigger" sunset mechanism to try to contain the deficit explosion. This sent them right back to 'square one' scrambling for other ways to raise revenue,  including reinstating the AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax, and (GASP!) reducing the corporate tax cuts.

Recall the Republicans had contended the vast tax cuts enclosed in their plan would in effect pay for themselves through economic growth. But the analysis, released by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, forecasted the tax bill would balloon the deficit even after factoring in the economic growth the bill is expected to generate.  Of course, through U.S. economic history no tax cuts have come close to paying for themselves.

The other aspect of why this wouldn't happen is that corporate CEOs are not even on board with any job creation, despite the yammering of the GOP con men.  Most illuminating was White House economic advisor Gary Cohn's meeting with dozens of CEOs, and most of them giving thumbs down when he asked about potential jobs, e.g.

The moderator (WSJ's John Bussey)  asked those in attendance whether they were planning to increase their business investment if the tax bill became law. The CEOs in attendance didn't seem to be on the same wavelength as Cohn.  While there was a smattering of raised hands in the auditorium, it was clear there were not as many as Cohn would have liked.  You see Cohn asking, almost embarrassed to be caught in the same room with these misfits:

"Why aren't the other hands up?"

Then, realizing he'd get no rational or decent answer, moving on to another question.
So there you have it. These CEOs would rather put their tax cut benefit money into stock buybacks and paying out dividends than creating new jobs.

An even more cogent reason not to allow this sham to add to the deficit and destroy lives is that there isn't a scintilla of rational justification for it. At least when other tax cuts were implemented unemployment was high. That isn't the case now as Bruce Bartlett (former economic advisor to G.W. Bush) pointed out last night. We have virtually full employment so the only reason to hang this schlock on citizens is to attempt to spur growth using a ruse that will only be of benefit to corporations and explode the deficit. (The non-partisan CBO forecasts a maximal increase in growth rate of only 0.6%). But as I've noted before, in an environment in which the quality of energy is degraded (lower energy return on energy invested), low economic growth will be the byproduct. Short of creating more efficient energy - say like nuclear fusion - there is no solution for this.

To their credit,  Democrats seized on the report by the Joint Committee on Taxation as proof that the Republican tax is all hot air and flim flam, since it would not do what the Reeps claimed. Hocus Pocus. Voodoo economics, to use George Bush Sr.'s term.  Holding a copy of the report, Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said the analysis proved the bill was nothing more than a “holiday bonanza to multinational corporations and special interests."

Fair enough, but if this piece of toxic crap somehow rises from potential ashes today, the Dems need to do more. They need to use their leverage in possibly stopping a government shutdown to extract concessions.  If no concessions are forthcoming, then the Dems refuse to cooperate to avoid a gov't shutdown.   The $64 question: What do the 'pukes want more, their sham tax cuts, OR preventing a government shutdown next week?

Let's first note that the Republicans hold all the power needed to stop a government shutdown on December 8th. They have the numbers, they have control of all branches of government. They do not need the Dems to help them - IF  all their members (mainly in the House) were on board. But, they're not on board. There are just enough rebellious Repukes - mainly Tea Party hard cores / holdouts,  that a shutdown can't be prevented without Democratic votes to stop it.

But should the Dems cooperate? I say NO, unless the 'pukes deliver the following:

-  No spending cuts to try to make up for any unrealized economic growth. That means NO cuts to Medicare, and no cuts to Medicaid.

- NO drilling in the ANWR.

- Revocation of any tax provision to withdraw the ACA mandate  - which would affect 13 million now covered.

- . No use of "Chained CPI" or other means to cut Social Security to lower the deficits because of the tax cuts.

- $100 b allocated for reconstruction in Puerto Rico.

- DACA remains intact and no deportations of the 60,000 Haitians who've arrived since the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Repatriating them would send Haiti into total chaos since there are neither the resources or job opportunities to provide for them.

- Change  all the "permanent" Corporate tax cuts to temporary ones only. And make them fully contingent on the corporations creating jobs.  No jobs, no tax cuts.

Make no mistake that this is a draconian move but the toxic tax plan on offer from the Reptiles  has the potential to hurl this nation into permanent  third world status  - while dramatically increasing economic inequality.

It is also true that people will suffer in a shutdown, but as Lawrence O Donnell put it on his show two nights ago, "Sometimes principles and governance must take precedence."  That is the case now, when we have to look beyond immediate problems incurred with a shutdown  to the need to prevent more radical, widespread destruction and worse suffering in the future.

A Message From Sen. Bernie Sanders concerning this refuse:

The current Republican “tax cut” bill, paid for by the Koch brothers and other billionaire campaign contributors, continues the push to make the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. It would raise taxes on middle class families making $75,000 a year or less and would throw 13 million Americans off of health insurance. And it would do all of these things to provide permanent tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations that ship American jobs to China while moving their American profits to the Cayman Islands.

But let's be clear. This legislation goes well beyond taxes. Its ultimate goal is to radically transform American society and the role that government plays in the lives of the working families of our country. This legislation will increase the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over ten years. Mark my words. If passed, the Republicans will then rediscover the "deficit crisis," and push aggressively for massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education – higher education in particular – nutrition, affordable housing and more. They will seek to undo every major piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years designed to help working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.

This is the Republican plan. Huge tax breaks for the rich and powerful. Massive cuts to life and death programs for the middle class and working families of our country.

This is not moral. This is not what the American people want. This is not what our country and our pledge for "liberty and justice for all" is supposed to be about.

That is why I am going on the road this week to talk directly to working people in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania about this disastrous piece of legislation. If we stand together – black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American, male and female, young and old, gay and straight – we can defeat this horrific bill.

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