With a government shutdown looming, Congress is wasting its time on ‘GOP tax cut scam 2.0’


Just as a reminder, Congress has until September 30 to pass a federal budget, or the government will shut down (again). Trump has threatened to shut down the government at least seven times in the past six weeks:

After spending the summer threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t give him billions of dollars to build a border wall, President Trump is now declaring he thinks a shutdown is good politics for him.

That’s despite the fact nearly everyone else in his party disagrees.

Republicans control all of Washington, and if the government shuts down at the end of this month when the fiscal year ends, it would come just weeks before most members of Congress face voters. Republican leaders have a hard time imagining a more nightmarish scenario for their party: The government has already shut down briefly twice this year under their watch, and the Republicans’ majority is on the line this November in the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate.

Yet Trump doesn’t seem to care much. Each time he appears to assuage Republican leaders’ concerns by moderating his position, he says something a day or two later more strongly in favor of a shutdown.

What Trump ultimately does will decide whether the government shuts down this month — and, potentially, Republicans’ fate in the midterms.

Congress should be doing its damn job and passing a budget to keep the government operating, especially this week when there is a catastrophic hurricane bearing down on the Carolina coast. Government rescue and relief efforts are going to be needed.

Instead, the geniuses (sic) in the GOP leadership, after passing its $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut scam bill earlier this year that has predictably led to an unprecedented round of stock buybacks (and not investment or raises for workers) and created a record deficit, “retreated to their policy war room, thought and debated and deliberated and analyzed, and came up with a bold new proposal for where to go next: “GOP tax cut scam 2.0.”

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post writes, Here comes the next major GOP policy initiative. You’ll never guess what it is.

House Republicans bracing for November’s midterm elections unveiled a second round of tax cuts on Monday that could add more than $2 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, aiming to cement the steep cuts they passed last fall despite criticisms of fiscal profligacy and tailoring their policies to help the rich.

The GOP’s “tax reform 2.0″ aims to make permanent the tax cuts for individuals that President Trump signed into law in December 2017, including the law’s temporary reductions in individual filers’ rates, a doubling of the Child Tax Credit, and cuts to the estate tax paid by a small fraction of the wealthiest families.

Critics have said the proposed changes would primarily benefit the wealthiest taxpayers, while Republicans have argued their tax cuts help fuel the American economy by putting more money in consumers’ hands.

“Critics have said” that the GOP plan would benefit wealthy people, in the same way critics have said that 2+2=4 and dropping a bowling ball on your foot could produce a sensation of pain.

Why would Republican do this? They aren’t going to vote on it before the November elections, and if those elections turn out the way most everyone expects, it’ll be moot once Democrats take over the House. So there are a number of reasons they might be offering this plan now. One is to lay down a marker so that if they do hold Congress, they can return to it next year. Another is that despite what the polls show about the tax cut they already passed, they believe in the power of tax cuts to win public support sooner or later.

But the most important reason is this: It’s what they really want.

Sometimes politicians take positions or actions they don’t really believe in, out of political expediency or because the alternative is worse. This is not one of those times. Republicans truly, deeply, sincerely, passionately believe that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are simply good. As far as they’re concerned, the taxing of corporations and the wealthy is just morally wrong, and anything they can do to ease the cruel burden under which our noble job creators suffer is an act of the utmost humanitarianism.

It’s why they always refer to tax cuts as “tax relief.” Once they come through with more cuts, the put-upon plutocrats will sigh, “Ahhhhh — what a relief!” and Republicans will know they have done what they came to Washington to do.

Tax cuts for the wealthy are the one thing that for Republicans is absolutely non-negotiable. When they assume power, there are certainly other things they want to do, but cutting taxes on the wealthy is the one thing they absolutely, positively will do. Nothing is more important.

And please, don’t be so gauche as to mention that were it enacted, this proposal would add hugely to the deficit Republicans pretend to care about. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office says the deficit will top $1 trillion in 2020 even under current law. [The government spent $895 billion more than it brought in from taxes and other revenue sources during the past 11 months, the Congressional Budget Office said this week, a 33 percent increase from one year before. Federal borrowing soars despite strong economy]. But we’re all adults here: We know that the deficit is only a rhetorical tool used to justify things such as cutting the safety net or keeping federal worker pay down. It’s supposed to actually constrain what we do only when there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Republicans will insist that this time, the tax cuts really will create such an explosion of economic activity that they’ll pay for themselves and create a paradise of limitless prosperity. [Faith based supply-side “Trickle down” GOP economics]. Sure, that’s what they say every time and it never happens. But sometimes you just need faith.

That is something Republicans have in infinite supply: faith that cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy is righteous and glorious, the most honorable thing they could do with the power they hold. George W. Bush did it, Ronald Reagan did it, Donald Trump did it, and by God they’re going to keep doing it if it takes the last breath in their bodies.

Laura Clawson at Daily Kos adds, House Republicans plan a fake new tax bill, since not enough voters were fooled by the first one:

House Republican leaders are pushing for a vote on a second tax billone that they know has no chance of becoming law in 2018—but some of their most vulnerable members aren’t happy. The oh-so-sneaky Republican plan is that, since voters realized that the first Republican tax law was just a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, this time the House will pass a bill that looks like it would benefit middle-class families. But since the Senate won’t even hold a vote on the bill this year, Republicans won’t risk it becoming law—they’ll just use it as a cudgel against Democrats who voted against it in the House.

The first Republican tax scam isn’t generally popular with voters, and it’s a particular problem for House Republicans from blue states that were targeted by the bill. Around a dozen of them voted against that first tax law because it would hurt their constituents, and now:

Some of those GOP lawmakers have openly said they would prefer to leave the tax issue alone as Congress also grapples with how to fund the government and the House potentially votes on health care measures that might be more politically beneficial to vulnerable incumbents. “If we were to pass that here in the House, it would be an exercise in futility, because it could never pass in the Senate,” Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, who opposed the first bill, said Friday on CNBC.

Well, duh. The point is to make Democrats look bad, not actually pass a law! Sure, Republicans would be fine with making individual tax cuts permanent—it would do more to break the government than it would to help working families, after all—but they’ve made clear that that’s not the priority. As former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn said, “The part of tax reform to me that was so important was really the corporate side.” Or as a Heritage Foundation fellow said: “My feeling is that it’s fine. It is certainly smart to make the tax cuts permanent, but it is not urgent, because those don’t expire for many years.”

The urgency is political, and aimed at November’s elections. If voters had fallen for Republican claims about the tax law they already passed, this big House Republican priority wouldn’t be on the map at all.

There has been much discussion this week following the release of Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” and the “Anonymous” op-ed in the New York Times last week about the president’s unfitness to serve in public office.

But it is not just Trump. Congressional Republicans are showing the American people that they are all unfit to serve in public office. Kick them all out to stop this insanity! America needs to return to normalcy.

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