The populist mask is slipping for Trump and the GOP

Posted by DanielS on Monday, 04 December 2017 01:27.

Washington Post, Opinion, 3 Dec 2017:

Dec. 1, 2017, will be remembered as the day when the vast majority of Americans fully grasped the consequences of the 2016 elections. They installed a man in the White House “likely to be under investigation for criminality for a very, very long time to come.” And they gave power to a Republican Party whose only purpose is to comfort the already extremely comfortable.

The quotation above, from Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Hillary Clinton, is now a better fit than ever for his own circumstances. The day after Michael Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday, Trump compounded his legal jeopardy with a tweet suggesting that (contrary to what he had said before) he knew Flynn, his onetime national security adviser, had lied to the FBI.

Trump’s lawyers will keep trying to explain his tweet away, but his overall vulnerability on obstructing justice has increased exponentially.

But it’s almost as important that Friday was also the day Senate Republican leaders brought forth a tax bill heralding the death of anything resembling a populist form of conservatism within the Republican Party. Plutocracy will now be the GOP’s calling card. Facing one of the most scandalous special-interest tax bills in a long history of such measures, even supposedly moderate members of the party caved in before the power of big money when the votes were counted early Saturday morning.

[...]

The leaders of “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” as the Senate pretentiously calls itself, no longer feel any obligation even to provide legible copies of complex legislation. The chicken scratches scribbled on the margins of their tax giveaway signed away any legitimacy these politicians can claim for their political project.

And deficits? Ah, deficits. They matter not a whit when there is money to pass out to corporations, rich heirs, private jet owners and the beer lobby represented by the son of one of our fine senators. But deficits will matter again soon, when Republicans will insist that they have no choice but to slash programs for the elderly, the sick and the poor.

One salutary outcome of this episode is that Trump showed how nonsensical were the widely repeated assertions that he was outside the Republican mainstream. We now know he is just a flamboyantly clownish and unconscionably mean version of an old-fashioned corporate conservative.

There is not an authentically populist bone in this billionaire’s body. He regularly demonstrates his utter contempt for working people by treating them as rubes.

He seems to think that racist gestures and malicious comments about immigrants and Muslims will distract working-class voters from how far he is tilting government away from their interests and toward those of his family and his rich friends.

Trump and his party will learn how many of the Americans they are taking for granted are much smarter than this and know when someone is selling them out — because, sadly, it’s something they are familiar with.

This is why the coincidence of the tax bill’s passage and Flynn’s decision to cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is so dangerous to Trump: The president’s populist mask is slipping at the very moment when he most needs to rally the troops. Flynn, who cherished the phrase “lock her up,” came face to face with the slammer himself and decided that loyalty to this most unfaithful of leaders was not worth the price. About this, at least, Flynn is right.

But don’t count on Republican politicians abandoning Trump quickly now that their tax victory is in sight. They and the president have a lot more in common than either side wants to admit. The primary loyalty they share is not to God or country or republican virtue. It is to the private accumulation of money, and this is a bond not easily broken.

For complete story, see Washington Post.
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Comments:


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Posted by Response to last minute, dark of night tax bill on Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:24 | #

Your response to this in the dark of night passage of the tax bill that will overhaul taxes in a way that we haven’t seen in decades?

Response: Well it’s really designed to re-order our representative democracy.

What they will do with these massive tax-breaks, is that they will buy each other up in more mergers; which will concentrate markets and make it much more difficult for small businesses and workers; they’ll also pay each other off and give each other more bonuses; which they will use to purchase political influence in Washington and state capitols all over the country.

So, you’re talking about giving a lot of money to people who are already rich; and pretty much cannot use the money to spark consumer demand; because they’re already satiated from a financial standpoint; and will be raising taxes on many middle class people and working class people.

So this is really, I think, about re-ordering our society; creating a hereditary aristocracy in the United States; and really, leading our country and taking it down a path where we will one day see a very tiny group of very very rich elite people and an ocean of desperate people just trying to hang on and make it every single day; not too much different from what we see in countries around the world, like Honduras, where I recently visited.

Trump speaking on the passage of the bill despite no Democrats having voted for it (all Republicans but one did vote for the tax bill), said that he believes it will hurt them (the Democrats), “its not a good idea (politically) to vote against tax cuts.”

Well, I don’t think its good to vote for giving more money to people who don’t need it. Even Trump himself stands to benefit dramatically from these tax cuts. One of the things they’re cutting is the alternative minimum tax. The last time we have tax returns from him was in 2005, where he paid about 31 million because of the alternative minimum tax. He won’t have to pay that if this tax bill goes through.

Not only is he re-ordering our constitutional democracy, he is personally enriching himself. Which is not new, because he’s done it ever since he swore in to become president of the United States .... emoluments clause violations, all kinds of things, nepotism, you know, it’s just been a wash in fillin’ up the swamp, and so, you know, this is already the richest cabinet we’ve ever seen; and apparently they’re not done yet.

Again, its not just money to buy luxury goods; it’s money to re-order our constitutional democracy which is why I am urging everybody to become the most effective grassroots activists you can. This is essential that we have a resurgence in democratic participation; and I don’t mean big D democrat, I mean small d democrat, I mean getting involved in your neighborhood, your community. This is no time to say ‘I’m not into politics.’ This is a time to go headlong into the welfare of this nation.

Regarding the bill’s cutting of estate taxes, Sen. Charles Grassley said:

Response continues: Well, you know, the elites always want to shame the poor; right and everyone else.

The fact is that this economy is based on 70 percent of the people driving consumer demand.

If people do not purchase goods and services, this economy will grind to a recession; and that is why if you are going to do a tax cut, it ought to be aimed at lower and middle income people. That might actually spur demand. But the way they’ve done it is to just give more to people who already have everything.

The economic impact of getting rid of the estate tax will not be greater investment, or greater consumer demand. It will simply be more money for political influence, mergers and more bonuses.

In fact, let me just tell you, these taxes will literally worsen the economy, will make the economy more sclerotic. Because you know, it is really putting it into the hands of working people that allows them to open new businesses, do more hiring, and really you know, do more for the economy. You put money into the hands of people who don’t need it, all they’re going to do is what I already outlined: more political influence. This economy already has the signs of plutocracy; already has the signs where the richest people are simply trying to extract wealth from working and middle classes for themselves. This tax bill just makes that all the worse.

My last point on this is that, rich people already have a lot of money. There is literally trillions of dollars in cash held by corporations, their stock valuations at an all-time high; they do not need a tax cut to do anything. They could invest now if they wanted to. They don’t want to. Because they can make more money just by mergers and stock buy-backs, things like that.

So this is really just a travesty.



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