The House has passed a tax bill that is disproportionately kind to the wealthy; the Senate is about to do the same and then Donald Trump can flash that Cheshire grin again as he signs a document that may sound good to his base, but in reality will not be.
Besides stacking the deck in favor of the likes of himself, the bill also gives him and other Republicans a long-awaited victory in dissembling the Affordable Care Act. The individual mandate for health care coverage will essentially be gutted because penalties for non-compliance are eliminated. This means that thirteen million fewer individuals will have health care coverage and premiums will go up for those who still have coverage.
Regrettably, the underlying theme to Republican policies is meanness. Parenthetically, it might be noted that a recent CNN poll shows that Republican Senator is 20% more popular among Democrats than members of his own party (68% – 48%). If only McCain would show the party the same respect that they show to him.
The recent literal train wreck in Washington State gave Trump another opportunity to call next for a robust infrastructure bill. Of course, this comes as his budget cuts infrastructure spending by $55 billion, including a considerable amount for Amtrak. None of this stops Trump from calling for massive upgrades to our roads, bridges, airports, rail system – just about everything except cyber security. Democrats have talked about a real infrastructure bill that would cost on the order of a trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money, but it be fresh money going into circulation and the multiplier effect of contractors and workers receiving it would mean that each dollar would turn over in the economy up to four times in a year. Much of that would come back in the way of tax revenue.
Trump has also spoken about a trillion dollars for infrastructure, but up to eighty percent of it would be smoke and mirrors. That’s because it would not be actual federal spending. Instead, it would be up to $800 billion in tax breaks to contractors and real estate owners such as himself to “stimulate” infrastructure growth.
This one has difficulty passing the giggle test, because tax breaks for the wealthy do what they are called, they give more money to the wealthy. Without macro plans from the government to fund necessary projects, there will be negligible improvement to the infrastructure. What should be a major public program to improve the lives of the American people is just a further transference of public money into the coffers of the wealthy.
The mysteries of the Republican brain continue to be at the center of dysfunctional policies. There seems to be a lack of empathy, and policy-makers do not mind constructing programs that harm the most vulnerable (one of the seven forbidden words) among us. But even more odd is how the economically deprived in the Republican base have difficulty seeing who is oppressing them. They may scapegoat that it is “liberal values” and a lack of respect for their hard work (not everyone in any “class” is really a hard worker). It’s true that liberal programs have not always been a panacea for those who are designed to help, but the progressive perspective is to try to help and learn from mistakes. Many Republicans are happy to oppress their base if it means more money for the wealthy. That’s the tax bill and a likely infrastructure bill to come.
Democrats must put all the pressure they can on Trump so he seriously negotiates with “Chuck and Nancy” so that something can be salvaged. But that might be expecting too much of a man constructed like Trump.