Lazy Saturday Reads: “A Historic Tax Heist” — NYT Editorial Board

Good Morning!!

Republicans are celebrating their tax cut “victory” this morning, but the fight isn’t over yet. The bill still has to be reconciled with the House version and then voted on again by the House and Senate. I have to admit I’m pretty depressed about it, so this post will largely be a link dump.

The Week: The GOP’s massive tax overhaul is a monstrosity.

In a truly wild and dizzying Friday night and Saturday morning in Washington, Senate Republicans committed collective political suicide by passing a deeply detested tax bill they were still writingseemingly moments before they jammed it through on a party-line vote with no hearings and no meaningful input from a public that hasn’t even seen the text of the legislation.

As dawn broke Friday over the undrained swamp, it looked like the tax legislation was still in trouble, with Republican senators Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Susan Collins (Maine) all wavering. ­­­And as of Friday night, the text of this bill, which will restructure the entire American tax system and its economy, had not yet been released to the public, leaving Democratic senators and outside analysts guessing as to which radioactive provisions would be in it, which would be left out, and exactly where various tax levels would be set. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tweeted a photo Friday evening of amendments that would be voted on shortly and that she had to obtain from lobbyists rather than her colleagues across the aisle. The absurdity was almost unspeakable.

As the day wound down, Senate holdouts, especially those who were lionized by the left as principled heroes during July’s failed ObamaCare vote, had fallen in line and said they would vote to slash taxes on corporations, trustafarians, and hedge fund managers while raising them on poor, working class, and middle class Americans. Together these titans of high-minded values said they were ok with their colleagues’ plan to peel a bunch of hundred dollar bills off of America’s dwindling wad of national cash and stuff them directly into the pockets of their billionaire bankrollers.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

Regular order? On Wednesday, John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was fine sending this diabolical, 479-page Dybbuk through the Senate even though no one in the chamber had time to read it even once. Democratic pleas to at least postpone the vote until Monday so that our national leaders might actually skim the legislation were ignored. Protecting Medicaid for vulnerable Alaskans? When it came time to screw the poor, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was totally cool with it as long as she could trash the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with oil drilling in return. Collins, who was wavering Thursday, voted for the bill in the end, all but giving the finger to the Mainers who gave her those airport standing ovations after she stopped TrumpCare. Flake got on board when the White House made some meaningless promise to him that he would be part of any “conversation” about a DACA resolution later this year. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the only final holdout.

At the end of the day, Republicans revealed that their entire caucus is bereft of dignity, shame, honor, and any commitment to a single thing any of them have ever said in public about how laws should be made in the United States.

Read it and weep.

Mother Jones: Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Bill That Overwhelmingly Benefits the Wealthiest Americans.

There were a smattering of last-minute changes tucked into the nearly 500-page bill, but the core of it is quite simple: a permanent tax cut for corporations combined with much smaller, and temporary, benefits for everyone else. Over the next decade, the $1.4 trillion tax cut would disproportionately reward the wealthiest Americans while piling on the national debt—which in turn will likely be used by Republicans as a justification for cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Before the individual cuts expire in 2026—ending the bill’s most charitable years—the top 1 percent would receive slightly more of the tax cut than the bottom 60 percent of Americans combined. Without the individual tax cut, the top 1 percent would get start getting 61 percent of the benefits. And at that point, the vast majority of middle-class taxpayers would receive essentially nothing, or end up paying higher taxes….

Republicans say they’ll eventually extend those individual cuts. But there is good reason to doubt that. The United States will be facing unprecedented debt levels when it comes time to renew the cuts. The annual deficit would be $1.4 trillion in 2025, up from about $700 billion today. The Senate bill asks Americans to trust that a future Congress, comprised of different members, will continue to ignore deficits.

Supposedly the bill includes a lot of completely nonsensical policy changes, including defining life as beginning at conception. We already know that the bill basically repeals Obamacare and throws 13 million people off health insurance. It also cuts Medicare, and the Republicans will use the inevitable budget deficits to push for cuts in Social Security and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

The Washington Post: GOP eyes post-tax-cut changes to welfare, Medicare and Social Security.

High-ranking Republicans are hinting that, after their tax overhaul, the party intends to look at cutting spending on welfare, entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and other parts of the social safety net.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said recently that he wants Republicans to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on government programs. Last month, President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.”

As Republicans advocate spending cuts, they have frequently cited a need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.

“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this week.While whipping votes for a GOP tax bill on Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans’ money.

“We’re spending ourselves into bankruptcy,” Hatch said. “Now, let’s just be honest about it: We’re in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don’t help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don’t help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through.”

Hatch and his buddies want to “help” the poor and elderly by letting them die in the streets. Or maybe they’d decide that the right to life ends at birth.

The latest CBO score was released just before the vote, and it predicts the same results as the previous one. The Hill reports: CBO: Senate tax bill increases deficit by $1.4 trillion.

The Senate GOP tax plan will increase the deficit by more than $1.4 trillion over a decade, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO score comes as senators are already voting on amendments to the legislation and are expected to pass the bill in the early morning hours of Saturday.

The legislation, according to CBO, would have the largest deficits between the 2019 fiscal year and the 2022 fiscal year.

The finding comes as GOP senators have largely ignored warnings that their tax plan would increase the deficit. Republicans argue that economic growth will more than make up for any increases to the national debt.

It could be a lot worse than that. What domestic or foreign students will be able to earn doctorates in the U.S. if they have to pay taxes on the tuition that Universities waive in return for grad student labor? Corporations will continue ship jobs overseas and channel their profits to their shareholders. This bill is likely to throw our economy into another tailspin. I’ll leave it up to Dakinikat to discuss that.

The Washington Post lists some of the disagreements between the House and Senate versions of the bill that will have to be resolved: Here are 7 differences Republicans must resolve between their tax bills. They include the ACA individual mandate, the estate tax, the expiration of individual tax cuts, the child tax credit, the mortgage interest deduction, the new tax brackets, and the timing of the corporate tax cuts. Of course it’s possible Ryan could decide to try to get the House to pass the Senate version as is. We’ll have to wait and see.

The New York Times Editorial Board: A Historic Tax Heist.

With barely a vote to spare early Saturday morning, the Senate passed a tax bill confirming that the Republican leaders’ primary goal is to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else, including future generations who will end up bearing the cost. The approval of this looting of the public purse by corporations and the wealthy makes it a near certainty that President Trump will sign this or a similar bill into law in the coming days.

The bill is expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a debt that will be paid by the poor and middle class in future tax increases and spending cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. Its modest tax cuts for the middle class disappear after eight years. And up to 13 million people stand to lose their health insurance because the bill makes a big change to the Affordable Care Act.

Yet Republicans somehow found a way to give a giant and permanent tax cut to corporations like Apple, General Electric and Goldman Sachs, saving those businesses tens of billions of dollars.

Because the Senate was rewriting its bill till the last minute, only the dealmakers themselves knew what the chamber voted on. There will, no doubt, be many unpleasant surprises as both houses work to pass final legislation for President Trump to sign.

Read the rest at the link. I’m sure more details about the tax scam will come out over the weekend. Meanwhile, if you live in a red state, please let your Senators and Representatives know how enraged you are.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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39 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: “A Historic Tax Heist” — NYT Editorial Board”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have courage, Sky Dancers.

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  2. bostonboomer says:

    Trump tweeted about Flynn, seeming to admit to knowledge of what Flynn was doing when he colluded with Russia.

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  3. dakinikat says:

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Attention America, what happened in the dead of night is just one example of what “not voting” produces.

    They have voted to ensure the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

    They have come mighty close to repealing Obamacare and may just do it again.

    They have threatened to weaken Social Security and Medicare,

    They are poisoning the water, air and food supplies with unnecessary deregulations.

    They elected a dolt who refuses to honor the Iranian treaty.

    They elected an idiot who has removed us from climate change agreements,

    They elected an ignoramous who threatens nuclear warfare.

    They stand behind a moron who is undoubtedly a traitor to his nation.

    They have nominated a child molester to the US Senate who makes no bones about his hatred of gays.

    They have elected a Liar in Chief who has proven to be a full blown racist.

    When you choose to stay home in a fit of pique, when only a “pure” candidate gets your attention, when voting third party to “send a message”, when failure to read, study, or investigate candidates and their positions, when sexism shrouds your critical thinking, then this is what you get. Sheer chaos and a reduction of your rights at the hands of those you keep voting into the congressional body because it is easier than doing your homework about who and what they represent.

    If this piece of crap gets voted into law I, and many others like me, stand to lose what little we have in our old age, a time we should be relaxing after years of work and obligations.

    But good for you! Those of you who stood tall for your “principles” by not giving a shit in November 2016 and let this nation fall even further into the hands of the corrupt. You are just as responsible for McConnell and Ryan as those in their home states.

    Bravo!

  5. NW Luna says:

    Ghouls.

    The big deficits in GOP tax plan aren’t a glitch — they’re the whole point

    “You have to bring spending under control,” Rubio said this past week, when asked about the tax cuts adding to the debt. “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare … That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”

    President Donald Trump echoed this when, at a rally in Missouri, he said that after cutting taxes, Congress would pivot next to “welfare reform.”

    See how this works? Spending cuts are notoriously unpopular. So Republicans are instead slashing taxes, which people tend to like except that it obviously worsens the government’s fiscal position. But then the worsened fiscal position can become the rallying cry to slash spending — on health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and also on Social Security.

    They are counting on this working even though they are now the proximate cause of the ballooning deficits.

  6. bostonboomer says:

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  7. NW Luna says:

  8. Catscatscats says:

    Somewhere along the road to this hell, an editor of a women’s magazine said that 8 to 9 million millennials will he eligible to vote in 2018. I hope this repub carnage gets them angry and to the polls. It’s their future that is being destroyed.

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s all of us — except the rich — whose future is being destroyed. Except perhaps for those of us who will die in the next few years, and that may be many since the Rethugs have trashed health care.

      But if the consequences aren’t reversed quickly, it will be the younger generations who have to live the longest at mind-numbing, back-breaking low-wage jobs and endure poisoned land, water, and air.

      • quixote says:

        I don’t think so, Luna. Referring to the “all of us — except the rich.” Talk to the Russian rich after their revolution. Talk to the French rich after theirs. In Peru the rich have to live behind 18ft walls with security guards. They don’t think they’re in prison, but that’s what I’d call it. In China, the rich try to buy themselves breathable air, but their kids still get asthma.

        The rich get destroyed a bit later than us, that’s true. The only real difference is that they’re too shortsighted to see it coming.

  9. NW Luna says:

    I also am afraid this may happen.

    • quixote says:

      “like they know” Exactly. Politicians are downright psychic about which way their voters are blowing, and suddnely they don’t care? Very strange. Very significant.

  10. dakinikat says:

    From a former Republican Activist:

    The GOP Has Become A Dangerous Cult

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisladd/2017/12/02/the-gop-has-become-a-dangerous-cult/#4737517d245c

    Republican Roy Moore, removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for his erratic behavior and banned from the mall for harassing teenage girls, has cloaked his campaign for the Senate in the language of “spiritual warfare.” As such, he is the most apt representative of the Republican Party in our age of cult politics. Moore is pitching himself as God’s candidate and his voters are slopping it up like poisoned applesauce. The party of “family values” is about to send a known sexual predator to the Senate because God wants them to. This would be startling, except they already used the same reasoning to put a known sexual predator in the White House.

    The same magical reasoning infects Republicans tax reform plans. We are in the eighth year of continuous job growth, the eighth year of economic expansion, and the eighth year of a head-spinning stock market boom. Corporate profits are at record levels and the economy has been redlining at full-employment for almost three years. By any marginally credible economic reasoning, this would be an ideal moment to raise taxes, curb debt, make investments in public infrastructure, and just generally do the things one does at the peak of a long economic expansion.

    At this moment, why are Republicans trying to slash taxes for the wealthy? Why would someone castrate themselves and commit suicide? Because that’s what the cult demands.

    There are no bright economic minds suggesting that this is a good idea. There is no difference of opinion among sane, credible people about whether America needs a massive tax cut for the rich. An effort by Republican leaders to claim support among economists devolved into unabashed lying. One of the “economists” listed as a supporter, Gil Sylvia, has yet to be identified and may not even exist. When one of the president’s minions pitched this idiotic tax plan to a panel of American CEO’s – men who will be getting fat tax cuts – they balked. In public. On camera. Director Cohn’s stunned response after soliciting their backing should be etched on the tombstone of the former Party of Lincoln, “Why aren’t the other hands up?”

    Cohn didn’t pause to hear their answer, because that isn’t how a cult works. Like a Soviet Commissar, he wasn’t soliciting feedback but measuring loyalty. He noted the disbelief of the apostates and simply moved on in righteous oblivion. No reasoning accessible on the plane of logical thought supports this plan, just like no one outside the cult would ever let Roy Moore make decisions on their behalf.

    • quixote says:

      Seems to me this whole “My God! They call themselves moral! And Christian! And they’re pro-pedophile! Crazy!” way of looking at the situation is fundamentally wrong.

      The mistake comes from taking them at their word and from not calling things by their right names.

      The reason they give for being pro-Moore no matter what is he’s “pro-life” and that preempts everything. Well, they’ve never given any sign of facilitating anyone’s life. Their kind of anti-abortion is targeted toward keeping women under control.

      The sex crimes? Also work rather well to keep women down.

      The racism fits too, since that keeps black men as well as all women in the servant class.

      If you look at their credo based on what they *do*, it’s internally consistent: white men get / keep / have status. That’s all this is.

      If we looked past the sanctimonious labels they paste on themselves, it might become easier to deal with their toxic methods of trying to stay at the top of the heap.

      • NW Luna says:

        I think we’re expecting that they’ll be shamed into realizing their actions are unChristian (according to Jesus the liberal street preacher who fed the poor and threw the moneylenders out of the temple) and to the right thing.

        We’re using rational argument. Alas, that never works with them. Even the risk of losing coming elections because their constituents hold them accountable doesn’t seem to matter to them.

        I think power over others is their only motivator.

        So we’ll have to outvote them to get our people in power. That means intense get-out-the-vote work, and fights to overturn their voter suppression and gerrymandering.

        • quixote says:

          Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Power (= status in this case) is what motivates them.

          Our rational arguments are only rational in our universe. In their universe, we’re telling them to be okay with having their world fall apart (in our language: not having white guys on top). To them, that’s irrational.

          We’re also being (really) irrational in not seeing how their world is constructed and arguing with them as if they live in our world. They don’t.

          And, as you say, the only thing you can do then is out-vote them. We can’t reason with each other because we don’t define reason the same way.

  11. NW Luna says:

    Tonight (Sunday) the full moon is the largest this year — If the sky’s clear tonight, find a spot where you can watch the moon for a few minutes and let its calmness ease you.

  12. NW Luna says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Reminds me, I’d better have my signs and chants ready for when I go hear Hillary next week!

      • purplefinn says:

        Cool!

      • Catscatscats says:

        Oh, Luna i was wondering when you were going to see her. Please, please, please give us as much detail as possible. Will you get a book signed?

        • NW Luna says:

          No book signing — I looked for that option and was willing to pay the extra $$ but didn’t see the option and thought they were all sold out. Later I heard that Ticketbastards had screwed up and just hadn’t listed that option when they should have. Grrrrr.

          I’m definitely making a full report! Not sure if they will allow cameras and my cheap old cell phone is lousy at photos.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Morons