LA Progressive

Congress Loves to Gamble with Your Money

These certainly are bittersweet times in the Trump White House. While the President is absorbing the potential impact that Michael Flynn’s defection may have upon either him and/or members of his inner circle, with particular concern over family members, he is also being treated to a rare legislative victory whose consequences will reach every American for years to come in the form of tax changes.

Both of these currents must run their due course: the tax changes must now be ironed out in a joint House-Senate conference committee that will require extensive wrangling that could last several weeks; the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation seems to be actually ramping up and expanding and despite the President’s lawyers boasts that it will be finishing soon it could grind on for many months.

The good news for the President is that he is on the verge of being able to point to a huge victory by virtue of an immense tax reduction package that virtually was patched together like a Rube Goldberg contraption right up until the 51st vote was counted.

The good news for the President is that he is on the verge of being able to point to a huge victory by virtue of an immense tax reduction package that virtually was patched together like a Rube Goldberg contraption right up until the 51st vote was counted. There has been considerable consternation on the part of Democrats and pundits covering the political spectrum as to the perverse fundamentals of this legislation and I will refrain from repeating them here. However, suffice it to say that the American people will soon be guinea pigs in an economic experiment unlike any they have experienced. By all sober assessments, the fanciful economic assumptions and taxpayer behavior projections that underly the monumental shift in revenue contained in this massive tax bill are a huge gamble.

The gist of the tax bill is that redistribution of money from the bottom 90 percent to the top 10 percent will do two things: first, it will jump-start the economy to produce more jobs; second, it will pay for itself and possibly even be a revenue producer. Both of these premises are dubious at best and have no basis whatsoever in empirical economic theory let alone any practical applications that can be pointed to. Quite simply, support for the approach outlined in both the House and Senate versions of the bill is wholly based upon wishful thinking. That fiscally conservative Republicans are willing to increase debt while the economy is currently growing and at nearly full employment is a rebuke to long-held conservative fiscal orthodoxy. We will see as time goes on whether the gamble proverbially breaks the bank, but the ruling party certainly does not hide that they are willing to take that risk. Time will tell.

It is senseless to continue to debate the merits or lack thereof at this point. The Republican leadership has been totally transparent in their hypocrisy and have not hidden the true rationale for support for such foolishness: namely, pure unadulterated political survival. I could spend many paragraphs highlighting the crass cowardice of Senators like Collins, Murkowski, Flake, Sasse, Portman, and yes the so-called “maverick”, McCain but will just leave it at that. Politics prevails in an environment where approval barely creeps into double digits.

Regardless of what the future may hold for this administration in all likelihood the American people, particularly those who find themselves at lower income levels and in what is left of the middle class, will be left holding the bag on this horrendous abdication of responsibility foisted upon them by elected leaders who place politics over public service and partisanship over probity.

Republican control of the levers of power has exacerbated cynicism, fear, anger, anxiety, and disrespect for the institutions of our democratic process and revenge will be swift, complete, and warranted. If the gamble fails justice will be meted out at the polls next November, when the Republican Party is swept from power and replaced by leaders who actually care about the state of the nation. Electoral revenge may be the only salvation at this point for a dysfunctional system that does not hide a level of desperation on the part of its elected leaders that borders on oligarchical corruption.

We are suffering under the abject incompetence of pretenders to power, from the White House through Congress, and retribution will come, hopefully in a peaceful transition. The damage that will be done in the interim will be on the heads of those who participated in and encouraged the disgraceful selling out of the people that has taken place in the Senate and House this past week. Shame on you and a pox on both your houses. You deserve worse but I will settle for your ouster from public life.

Merry Christmas!

Lance Simmens