When you listen to the D.C. Republicans, they describe their agenda in very simple and soothing terms. They tells us that they support smaller or limited government. In addition, they tell us that they support tax cuts for all Americans. Finally, conservative Republicans claim that they believe in fiscal responsibility and abhor deficits.
It sounds really good in the abstract but what does it really mean when the Republicans actually govern? As former New York Governor Mario Cuomo famously said: “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”
After I administered truth serum to a D.C. Republican, I got the following honest answers to this weighty question. (You won’t hear this anywhere else!)
- Rich people don’t have enough money.
In 2017, the Trump Administration passed a $2 trillion deficit funded tax cut in which the top 1% grabbed 83% of the benefits. The tax cuts for the wealthy were permanent but the tax cuts for everybody else were temporary and tiny.
In new revelations about the 2017 tax law from the NY Times, it turns out that Federal Express used that law to pay ZERO taxes. That’s right — Fed Ex is one of the 60 big companies who are now paying zero taxes. At the same time, Fed Ex didn’t increase its investments and is offering buyouts to its workers.
We have also learned that America’s 400 richest families are now paying a lower tax rate than the middle class. CBS News stated: “Factoring in federal, state and local taxes, those ultra-wealthy households pay a total rate of about 23% — that compares with just over 24% for the bottom half of households.” Two economists stated: “This looks like the tax system of a plutocracy.”
2. The poor and middle class have it too easy.
This same 2017 tax law — that Ben Sasse, Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon supported — raised taxes on Gold Star families. I suppose somebody had to pay for Fed Ex’s tax cut. Moreover, the Trump tariffs that have devastated the farm sector of the economy have largely wiped out the meager benefits the middle class received from the 2017 tax bill.
Now that the 2017 tax law has nearly doubled the deficit to $1 trillion, the D.C. Republicans are calling for cuts to programs for the poor and middle class to pay for that tax cut for the rich. Shortly before the 2018 elections, Mitch McConnell said that if the GOP won, they would take a swing at cutting Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Moreover, Trump has said that cutting Medicare would be a “fun second term project.”
3. Deficits don’t matter.
Ronald Reagan ran up the biggest peacetime deficits in history and tripled the national debt. Between the two of them, Reagan and Bush41 quadrupled the national debt. Bill Clinton cleaned up their mess and bequeathed to Bush43 a projected ten year surplus of $5.5 trillion. Bush squandered that surplus on two wars, two tax cuts and the Medicare Part D program.
When President Obama took office in 2009, he inherited an annual deficit of $1.3 trillion. Subsequently, Obama reduced that annual deficit to $585 billion. Nonetheless, that wasn’t good enough for the D.C. Republicans. During the Obama presidency, the D.C. Republicans railed against spending and the deficit, and predicted doomsday if we didn’t do something about it.
Since Trump has taken office, the deficit has nearly doubled to $1 trillion. Perhaps all of the deficit fear mongering by the GOP wasn’t on the level. As Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman stated: “The modern American right doesn’t care about deficits, and never did. All that talk about debt was just an excuse for attacking Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps.”
4. Too many Americans are insured.
During the Obama Administration, the D.C. Republicans voted over 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan. If the likes of Jeff Fortenberry had gotten their way, 20 million Americans would have lost their insurance coverage and pre-existing condition protections would have been gone.
Since he took office, Trump — along with Pete Ricketts — has filed a lawsuit aimed at throwing out the ACA by judicial fiat. Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith have all voted in favor of this reckless lawsuit. If Ricketts and the Nebraska Congressional delegation “win” this case, 20 million would become uninsured and pre-existing condition protections would be eliminated.
In 2017 — after years of promising a cheaper and more generous version of the ACA- the GOP finally came up with a replacement plan. The Trump Care bill would have kicked 23 million people off insurance and gutted pre-existing condition protections. It passed in the House but it failed by one vote in the Senate. This bill was so radioactive, the GOP held the final Senate vote in the middle of the night when fewer people were paying attention.
5. Big government is necessary when it advances the GOP’s radical agenda.
The D.C. Republicans believe in limited government for Wall Street, the fossil fuels industry and polluters. In contrast, the GOP supports regulating women, labor unions and voting. The common thread in this bizarre and contradictory stance on regulation is that it’s all about the campaign cash and GOP special interest groups. That’s all you need to know.
As you can see, there is a big gap between the D.C. Republicans’ pretty rhetoric and their actual governing agenda. As Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell once said: “Watch what we do, not what we say.” I’m sure some Republican may take umbrage at this post. However, facts are stubborn things. The greatest act of incivility in American politics, as is well known, is to accurately describe a Republican’s publicly stated positions.
The GOP is running on the platform that the Democrats are too extreme or too left wing. I would say it’s time for the GOP to take a look in the mirror. The agenda of the D.C. Republicans is extreme and out of the mainstream. Vote Blue no matter who in 2020!