Now that the Congress has sent their enormous tax cut bill to the president’s desk where it will no doubt be signed soon, one has to wonder what the media will dangle in front of us to distract us from the real issues of the day, to maintain their ratings, and to keep their ad dollars flowing in. Will it be more of the #MeToo movement or will the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election be the top stories in the coming weeks?
Never mind that neither Russia nor the #MeToo movement are the most prescient issues of the day. Yes, of course sexual harassment is deplorable whether it occurs in the workplace or otherwise. The Russian investigation could take months or years to complete, providing the president doesn’t decide to fire the special counsel over the holiday weekend.
Never mind that this administration has taken steps from day one to undercut the very fabric of this country by rolling back environmental regulations that protect our clean air and water, by promoting “beautiful clean coal,” to opening up our national parks and wildlife areas to drilling oil and gas and for mining and to closing down national monuments which were set aside to protect pristine wilderness so that the resources within them can be exploited by big corporations for personal profit at the expense of regular US citizens.
So come on news media, start reporting on what really matters. Start reporting on the long-term effects of what is happening in our state and national legislatures.
Never mind that he has appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general who is a well-known bigot, who has vowed to reduce prosecution of police departments on civil rights allegations, who has a very sketchy history when it comes to lesbian and gay issues and who has indicated that he will hire a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s involvement with a sale of a uranium plant to Russia despite her having been cleared of wrongdoing by an FBI probe years ago. Never mind that he has appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, a woman who never went to a public school in her entire life except as a mentor, who is devoting her time in that post to devolving our public education system. Never mind that he has appointed former Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt as the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, a man who has spent his entire professional life suing that agency to overturn environmental protections on behalf of big corporations.
Never mind that he has appointed Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior, a man who has close ties to big oil and gas and who is overseeing the opening up of our national parks and national monuments to drilling and mining. Never mind that he appointed Steven Mnuchin, former Wall Street banker, to oversee the Department of the Treasury or that he has appointed Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, a billionaire who retains investment interests closely tied to Russia. And then there is Alex Azar, former head of drug giant Eli Lilly’s US division to oversee the Department of Health and Human Services which oversees the Food and Drug Administration, after former Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign after abusing travel privileges.
And now that they have this corporate tax giveaway tucked away neatly in their pockets, speaker of the house Paul Ryan vows that the house and the Senate will return next year to begin working on entitlement programs. That’s right, your Republican neighbors in the United States Congress want to pay for their $1.5 trillion deficit busting tax giveaway by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, otherwise known as CHIP, although Mr. Ryan declared earlier today that a stopgap measure would be introduced to fund the CHIP program as a stopgap measure. We will see.
And while the tax cuts they so eagerly handed out to the wealthiest 1% of American citizens and corporations are permanent (meaning they have no expiration date attached to them) the tax breaks they doled out to the lower and middle class expire by 2025.
We have to be scratching our heads. By now doesn’t everyone know that trickle-down economics doesn’t work? Can’t anyone remember back to the Reagan administration in the 80s when tax rates were slashed with the promise that the economic benefits of cutting tax rates paid by the wealthiest Americans would trickle down to the working class? Doesn’t anyone remember that it didn’t freaking work? See, In Tax Overhaul, Trump Tries to Defy the Economic Odds, New York Times, Dec. 20, 2017.
The pattern of short-term promise followed by disappointment is one that other presidents have experienced. President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 both passed tax cuts that delivered temporary bumps to the economy followed by slowdowns and rising deficits.
“The clear consensus among independent economists is that the impact of the tax cuts on growth is nowhere close to what the administration is talking about,” said Mr. Desai of Harvard. Whatever growth does occur, he added, will be “counteracted by the fiscal irresponsibility of the bill.”
Apparently no one remembers how those tax cuts weakened the economy and how it took years to recover. Fast-forward to the George W. Bush years and his tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans under the same failed premise that it would benefit the working class. Remember the Great Recession of 2007? Remember the housing crash, the Wall Street failure, the near loss of the auto industry, the bankruptcy of many cities across the United States? Remember how it took 8 years of a Democratic presidency to pull the economy out of the tank? Apparently not.
Now the lower middle class and the working poor who have been brainwashed into thinking that immigrants, brown people, the truly poor and those who are exercising their rights to utilize our social network system including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are those who are to blame for them not being as well off as they would like to be. Never mind that the economy is doing pretty well; never mind that the stock market keeps making record gains; never mind that corporate profits are at an all time high; never mind that unemployment is at a very low point. (This is not an argument that Trumpian economic theory is working.) The New York Times reports:
Over time, most of the broad-based tax cuts will disappear. Although the richest sliver of Americans will continue to get a break, most people who earn less than $100,000 will see their taxes rise, which could slow the economy’s primary engine, consumer spending.
Further tightening is likely if the Republicans follow through on sharply cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other programs that tend to put extra cash into the pockets of lower and moderate-income households.
Either way, the deficit will continue to balloon.
What the oligarchs in Washington DC want the working class to do is to accept a short-term payoff of 100 bucks extra in their tax refund checks as a bribe for their votes and permission to continue stealing from the American public.
Never forget that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are not entitlement programs, they are not handouts; they are programs that are paid for by the people who work, people who have money deducted from their paychecks every payday. The money that is in these programs belongs to us and in that regard, yes they are entitled programs. We are all entitled to those funds when we retire or when we fall upon hard times that prevent us from being able to afford to take care of ourselves in the way we would prefer.
So come on news media, start reporting on what really matters. Start reporting on the long-term effects of what is happening in our state and national legislatures. We don’t need the latest sex scandal dangled in front of us to titillate us or the president’s latest outrageous tweet, or the minutia of discrepancies between one tweet and the other, or the he-said-she-said of the latest political infighting, to keep your ratings high and your ad revenue dollars flowing. You can stop your in depth analysis of the carried interest provisions of the tax code, of whether the president really has any effect on the stock market or the price of gasoline. What we really need to know is what is really going on in Washington in the halls of Congress because, for better or for worse, the majority of the American population depends on you for that information.
In case you were wondering . . .