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Monday, May 20, 2024

Tax ‘reform’ is old Washington shell game


The circus America witnessed overnight Tuesday reminded me of a similar evening in 1981, when the promised tax cut promised by then-President Ronald Reagan won approval of a Congress controlled by the Democratic party.

Reagan worked out the tax plan one-on-one with Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill over drinks at the White House one late evening and then watched it go through the House and Senate with surprising ease.

As the then-new press secretary and legislative assistant to Cong. Paul Findley (R-Ill.), I watched and learned how cooperation and compromise made legislation possible in Congress in those days.

As the cliché goes, that was then, this is now and it took a straight party-line vote in the Senate in the wee hours of this Wednesday morning to get the news tax cut and “reform” bill approved.

“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work,” claimed GOP leader Mitch McConnell in a tweet after the Senate vote a few hours ago.

Perhaps McConnell should start brushing up on he resume because the new tax “reform” package — worked out mostly behind closed doors by only Republicans — looks like welfare to the rich and to hell with the rest of the American people.

Back in the early 1980s, it was easier to sell a pig in a poke to the people.  Reagan’s tax cut turned out to be a lot less of a tax cut than promised the new President’s unpopularity cost some GOP members of Congress their seats in the midterm elections in 1982.

Republicans paid the price then and political watchers this year predicts the party will pay a harsh price from an unforgiving pubic in the midterms in 2018, less than a year away.

Polls already show widespread disgust from Americans over the so-called “reform.”

Most the House and Senate Republicans who voted for the tax reform bill that wasn’t haven’t read the final version of the act and have little idea of what’s in it.  They bought into a promise by salesman Donald Trump, their president, and a House and Senate leadership who wanted something to show for a wasted year under GOP control.

The new bill makes the largest tax cuts to people making more than $600,000 a year and consider those cuts “permanent” while smaller cuts for most Americans will expire in a few years.

The promise, of course, is that future Congresses will extend the cuts but they will be facing a deficit spiraling out of control and might not be as willing to go further into the hole.

Those supporting the tax cut that isn’t claims the large slice that goes to the rich and then big business will being more money into the economy and back to America.

We heard similar promises in 1981.  Didn’t happen.  So called “trickle down” economics didn’t work then and won’t work now.  I know.  As a political operative for the GOP, I helped sell that “shell game” though most of that decade.  Then I watched it plunge more and more Americans into financial ruin.

Donald Trump will get richer and he will use the money to build more lavish properties in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and probably Russia.

The “middle class” will continue into the extinction because it does not pump big money into the campaigns of members of Congress or the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In the end, the only bright spot we might find in this mess is that miscreants like Mitch MConnell will be forced to find “another line or work.”

We can hope the other line of work will be in a prison laundry or making license plates.


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