Republican Corruption

It’s not just Trump. As Paul Krugman helpfully points out, every Republican is complicit and a liar.

Republicans’ Tax Lies Show the Rot Spreads Wide and Runs Deep
by Paul Krugman, The New York Times
NOV. 30, 2017

On Thursday morning, The New York Times revealed that Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has been lying for months about Republican tax plans. Mnuchin has repeatedly claimed the existence of a Treasury report that — unlike every independent, nonpartisan assessment — found that these plans would pay for themselves, increasing growth and hence revenues so much that the deficit wouldn’t rise. But there is no such report, and never has been; Treasury staffers weren’t even asked to study the issue.

Also on Thursday, John McCain — who has delivered sanctimonious lectures on the importance of “regular order” in the Senate — declared his support for the G.O.P. tax bill. Remember, Senate leaders rushed this bill to the floor without holding any hearings or soliciting expert testimony (and tax policy is an area where you really, really need to hear from experts, lawyers and accountants even more than economists). In fact, at the time McCain declared his support, some key provisions were still secret, so they could be presented for a vote with no time for debate.

He didn’t even wait for an analysis of the bill’s economic impact by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own scorekeeper — the only official assessment, since the Trump administration was, as I said, lying when it claimed to have its own analysis.

Later that day the joint committee delivered its predictable verdict: Like all other reasonable studies, its review found that the Senate bill would do little for U.S. economic growth, while directly hurting tens of millions of middle-class Americans, blowing up the deficit, lavishing benefits on the wealthy and opening up new frontiers for tax avoidance. But thanks to the moral collapse of McCain and other supposedly principled Republicans, at the time this column was filed the bill nonetheless seemed on track to clear the Senate.

Mnuchin said his department had a study showing great effects on growth; that was a lie. Donald Trump says the bill is “not good for me”; that’s a lie. Senator John Cornyn said, “This is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses”; that was a lie. Senator Bob Corker said he wouldn’t support a plan “adding one penny to the deficit”; that was a lie.

In other words, this whole process involves a level of bad faith we haven’t seen in U.S. politics since the days when defenders of slavery physically assaulted their political foes on the Senate floor.

(I)t is not, at a fundamental level, a story about Donald Trump, bad as he is: The rot pervades the whole Republican Party. Some details of the legislation do look custom-designed to benefit the Trump family, but both the broad outlines and the fraudulence of the sales effort would have been pretty much the same under any Republican president.

Just about every G.O.P. member of Congress, including the sainted John McCain, is willing to put partisan loyalty above principle, voting for what they have to know is terrible and irresponsible legislation.

So what will it take to clean out the rot? The answer, basically, is overwhelming electoral defeat. Until or unless that happens, there’s no telling how low the G.O.P. will sink.

CEOs keep undermining White House claims that tax cuts will create jobs
by Matthew Sheffield, Salon

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that CEOs from Cisco Systems, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, and Amgen have publicly told their shareholders that they intend to use the money to provide dividends to shareholders or to purchase their own stock in the hopes of driving its price higher.

“We’ll be able to get much more aggressive on the share buyback” after a tax cut, Cisco’s Kelly Kramer was quoted as saying.

Those individual companies’ statements are in line with research conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch which surveyed 302 companies in July and found that 65 percent of CEOs who responded said that they preferred paying off debts compared to 35 percent who said they would spend their tax cut money on investment.

Such actions make sense from a business perspective since the overwhelming majority of large American businesses have no shortage of cash on hand thanks to record profits, lower employee costs thanks to automation, and the still-low interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

Companies also are paying a lower share of the tax burden than ever before, according to several analyses. In 1967, corporate taxes constituted about one-fourth of federal revenues but in 2016, they amounted to just over 5 percent.

Calamity Now: Senate to Pass Monstrous Tax Cut Bill
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout
Friday, December 01, 2017

The Republican “tax plan,” now divided between an already-passed House bill and the newly minted Senate legislation, is a shameless nightmare of lies and greed the likes of which have not been seen by any living person on the North American continent. It has no peer in the modern era.

If reconciled and signed by Trump, this legislation will leave tens of millions of people beaten, baffled and bereft. With this bill, they establish a permanent inheritor class whose wealth will be so vast and untouchable that they can buy every election — local, state and federal — from here on out. This is not simply a tax bill: It is the last stage of a corporate coup that has been slow-walking its intentions for decades.

  • The overwhelming majority of the tax cuts are given to the wealthy and to corporations. The rest of us get a tax increase a few years from now to pay for this gift to the rich.
  • Medicare will be slashed by $250 billion over 10 years, again to pay for the vast sums being sent up the ladder.
  • This bill gives more than $500 billion to foreign investors over the next ten years, clearly making America great again in the process. Know any poor or middle-class folks who could use half a trillion dollars right here at home?
  • The bill is also an attack on education: College loan deductions are eliminated, and deductions for teachers who have to buy their own school supplies are gone.
  • On Thursday, the Koch network warned the Senate not to add an amendment that would help poor families eat, if doing so increased corporate taxes in any way.
  • The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is eliminated, which basically means the ACA itself is eliminated, depriving millions of affordable health insurance. People will die because of this one — you can count on it.
  • Churches have been barred from endorsing candidates and getting directly involved in politics since 1954. The House version of this tax bill would eliminate that restriction, which is already widely ignored by a number of highly political churches and religious organizations. This provision opens a huge campaign finance loophole for the GOP. Can’t give any more to a candidate? Give to some right-wing megachurches with audiences in the tens of thousands and have them endorse your candidate. Praise the Lord and pass the plate.
  • Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was one of the crew that defected during the ACA repeal tussle earlier this year. She has decided, this time around, that destroying the ACA and gutting Medicare are fine with her because in return, the oil and mining industries get to ravage the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, just like they’ve always wanted.

There are 52 individual Republican senators who traveled 52 different paths to arrive in that chamber this morning, but all of them came for the same single reason: to pass some version of this bill and deliver a payday to their paymasters. That sorry goal has been accomplished.

They didn’t care about the deficit, the country, freedom, you, me or anything else. This was their magnum opus, their purpose in life. Like salmon swimming upstream to spawn, they were prepared to die in the shallows or be eaten by bears to get this done. Perhaps worse, they have spent the last year coddling and protecting Donald Trump so they could get his signature on this disgrace. That’s how important this was to them — and to those who hold their strings.

The network news people are wondering aloud if passage of this bill is now a “hollow victory” given the news of Flynn’s guilty plea. Leave it to TV to deliver a perfection of absurdity on a genuinely shattering day. Flynn is a bagman, just another bug on the limousine windshield. The ones who fill the bags will be popping corks all over the world tonight. The worst people have won, again. All the rest of us can do is bleed.