As Of Today, There’s Only One Dyed-In-The-Wool Conservative Republican Iconoclast In The House Of Representatives. The Rest Are Just Pretending.
We did some digging to find an obscure North Carolina Congressman named Walter Jones, just became the only member of the House who isn’t from a high-tax state to vote against all 3 of the following:
- George W. Bush’s $700-billion dollar funding of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008
- Barack Obama’s $787-billion American Recovery And Relief Act Of 2009
- AND Paul Ryan’s $1.5-trillion tax cut package of 2017, passed in the House yesterday
All on the basis of steadfastness against deficit spending. Said Jones in a news release: “I’m all for tax reform, but we can’t do it by adding trillions to the debt”.
13 Republican Reps in all voted against, 6 of whom were also against the Bush and/or Obama economic bailout and stimulus plans. But those 6 are all from California, New Jersey, or New York: high tax states where residents will get slammed by the repeal of state and local tax deductions. So it’s impossible to determine if they voted with their philosophies in mind, or their survival. With Jones, there’s no question.
Every Single Other Republican Who Voted Against The Bush And Obama Attempts To Prevent The Economy From Going Into A Full-Blown Depression, Just Voted For A Super-Size Tax Cut That Mostly Benefits Big Business, At A Time When Corporate Profits Are Already At An All Time High
The final tally: approval by a vote of 227-205. No Democrat voted in favor. A Senate bill and then reconciliation (if it passes the full Senate) lie ahead. The aim: to have it all done by end-of-year. Republicans in the Senate paved the way for that by moving their version of tax cuts out of the Senate Finance Committee by a party line vote, clearing it to move to the Senate floor.
The $1.5-billion dollars Republicans gave themselves permission to spend on a tax cut without any way of paying for it, is nearly double what Obama requested to save the economy from collapsing. But while at that time they cried we couldn’t spend money like that without an equivalent amount of cuts in other areas, they’re all too happy right now to just “let it ride“.
Just to keep everyone accountable:
- Speaker of the House Leader Paul Ryan voted in favor of the Bush plan, but against the Obama one. He of course voted in favor of his own tax cut plan.
- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise voted against both Bush and Obama unpaid-for stimulus, but in favor of unpaid-for tax cuts.
- Vice President Mike Pence (then in Congress) voted against Bush and Obama emergency deficit spending, but he will absolutely be the deciding vote in favor should the non-emergency deficit tax cuts end up in a tie in the Senate.
- Of course, most of the Tea Partiers, most of whom are in the House, didn’t come in until 2010, so they missed both the votes on both the Bush and Obama measures. Still, it’s fair to say what fueled their ire was free-spending measures like those, yet every single one voted in favor of a free-spending tax cut, double the size of any unfunded rescue package Obama ever proposed.
- At the same time, so-called Blue Dog Democrats, who in the past have voted with some frequency with Republicans, and many of whom opposed the Bush and/or Obama stimulus plans, really held the line this time. Not a single one crossed over and voted with Republicans on tax reform. That concerted showing is laudable as many pundits predicted Democrats would be occupied by infighting and fragmenting all over the place by now.
So What’s Going On Here?
One obvious answer is the disappearing Republican obstinance proves it was all about Obama all along, and not really about policy.
But there’s something potentially more nefarious: a long game being played by Republican leadership that makes the tax cut bill a win-win for them no matter how it plays out.
Trump and Republicans say the public is clamoring for tax cuts. Trump: “they want it, they need it.” Even though polls consistently find it isn’t really at the top of the list of items of importance for most Americans.
But Republicans know their agenda stands to benefit from passing this tax cut package whether people really want it or not. If it ends up being a success, and corporations do the right thing for once and spend their windfall creating jobs, and the economy booms, they’ll be heroes. If it ends up being an astronomical failure it will leave the nation without much of a choice but to start chopping away at Social Security and Medicare. (By then Congressional Republicans hope they will also have “taken care” of Medicaid as part of an Obamacare repeal). Paul Ryan has been itching to do this for years, and he’s made no secret of it. The problem: right now doing so would be wildly unpopular, without obvious economic justification. But pass the tax cuts and wait, and those justifications may grow like weeds through cracks in a decaying sidewalk.
That’s because about 75% of the federal budget goes toward just three broad categories: 24% for the military and veterans benefits, 24% for Social Security, 26% for Medicare, Medicaid and health subsidies.
Here’s a pie chart that slices it up with more specificity:
So if the unprecedented, deep tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals end up causing an equally unprecedented budget crisis, there will be no way out really but to cut Social Security and Medicare (the military will never ever be cut), and it suddenly becomes possible because it suddenly becomes essential. Hence, the sad win-win for the big picture agenda for Ryan and his cronies, whether their tax plan succeeds or not.
It’s Not A Done Deal, Yet
We want to keep reminding you that one of the reasons Republicans like to talk about their tax plan as if it’s a done deal, is they don’t want you to do anything to try and stop it. That’s also why they’re trying to rush it through during Thanksgiving and Christmas, when people tend to be distracted by other things. So it’s more essential than ever to get on those phones again, especially now that the Senate plan contains a de facto Obamacare repeal, which y’all fought so hard against this summer (and won)!
We’ve seen a fair amount of complacency this time around: people who know a lot more about tax policy than we do assuring us there’s a high-percentage chance it won’t pass at all. They point to the fact that Trump/Congress could not pass Obamacare repeal, and this is much more nuanced and complex.
We don’t agree. While we do believe many Americans have woken up to the fact that tax cuts do not typically pay for themselves, giving people free money is ultimately an easier sell than taking away their health insurance.
Not to mention the fact that we have the “pen in hand” President: he’ll sign anything. No critical eye: he just wants the “win”.
Which means it’s time for another round of phone calls. Of protests. Whatever it is you do that worked so effectively before!