Friday, December 01, 2017

It's Springtime for the Oligarchs

All eyes are on the US Senate today as it takes up Trump's tax bill.

For a country that loves to claim itself "Number One" this tax legislation sure rings that Liberty Bell. America already has about the worst levels of inequality in the developed world. It's at or near the top on income, wealth and inequality of opportunity, a.k.a. social mobility. This tax legislation won't be just another step in that same direction. It will be a powerful lurch toward the evolution of a new political order, oligarchy.

It's the sort of thing, in Paul Krugman's opinion, that could only be accomplished by a political party that's rotten to the core.

"But aren’t politicians always cynical? Not to this degree," Krugman writes. "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."

If you think the GOP would behave any differently with Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz in the White House, think again. Trump's family will profit handsomely from these proposed tax cuts, but his entire party has proven itself desperate to appease the donor class. For Krugman, "the rot is wide as well as deep." 

A Quinnipiac poll finds only 25 per cent of American voters support the tax bill. That, however, no longer matters. The well-researched 2014 report out of Princeton by professors Gilens and Page documented that Congress almost invariably supports special interests over the public interest when they're at odds. If Trump supporters really wanted a better deal, if they really wanted to drain the swamp, there it is - their "bought and paid for" legislative branch that is now indentured to the narrow but hyper-wealthy special interest, today's "donor class." They're not even trying to conceal it any more. Early in November even Lindsey Graham came clean.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday became the latest Republican to admit the GOP is trying to ram through massive tax cuts for the rich to satisfy its wealthy donors, telling a journalist that if the party’s tax push fails, “the financial contributions will stop.”

Lindsey Graham says “the financial contributions will stop” if tax reform fails.

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) has made a similar comment recently, complaining that his donors are pressuring him to pass tax cuts or “don’t ever call me again.”

Critics had the same response to Graham as they did to Collins: “Dude, you’re not supposed to actually admit that out loud.”

Can I interest you in a lovely swamp just perfect for draining? There it is. It's called the GOP. Go ahead, go for it.

America today is coming to resemble post-Wiemar Germany. The hands around the windpipe of American democracy are very strong and, so far, there's little indication that the public are prepared to fight back while they still can.


Toby said...

What is generally forgotten is that post-Wiemar Germany was the most cultured place in the world, in many ways progressive by today's standards. That it descended so quickly into the Nazi murk has long been a source of curiosity.

Owen Gray said...

Intellectual, political and moral bankruptcy. What Abe say?

Anonymous said...

Secure the hatches folks, rough economic seas ahead. Republicans have tried their trickle-down theory three times, and each time led to disaster.

- 1926, Calvin Coolidge’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, pushed through a massive tax cut. Sen. George Norris (R, Neb.) said that Mellon himself would reap from the tax bill “a larger personal reduction [in taxes] than the aggregate of practically all the taxpayers in the state of Nebraska." Three years later the US entered the Great Depression.

- 1981. Ronald Reagan delivers on his campaign promise with a 24% cut in corporate and income taxes. Inflation shot up as did interest rates. Unable to borrow money at an affordable interest rate, 17,000 businesses had failed by the fall of 1982 and unemployment reached record highs. As the US transitioned from the world's largest creditor nation to its largest debtor, national debt rose to a record high. Alarmed, supply-side guru David Stockman pushed Reagan to raise taxes, which he did. The economy recovered.

- 2001. George W. Bush cuts taxes on the rich arguing that this would create jobs. Instead, Bush became the first two-term president since Eisenhower not to achieve double-digit job growth. By 2008, the tax cuts had inflated an asset bubble that burst leading to the Great Bush Recession.

George's father correctly called supply-side economics "voodoo economics." Each time it's been tried the result has been disastrous. There's no reason to think the Trump tax cuts will have any better result, and it's amazing that the media doesn't yell BS! every time Republicans suggest tax cuts will help the average worker.


The Mound of Sound said...

True enough, Cap. It's never worked inasmuch as those who receive the benefit are rarely in a mood too see their windfall trickle down or in any other direction.

Ben said...

Of course the dems will fuck it up, They get more donor money too!

But to campaign successfully they have blast the airwaves with ads showing Trump and the donors - Kochs et al, get all of it and students, the middle class property owners and thoses who can't afford medical get dick-all. All in time for the 18 midterms

Simple stuff - "Trump gets billions - You get Squat!"

But we will never see this stuff because the dems can't capitalise - don't know how.

Anonymous said...

Neolibs bitch about neocon tax cuts and spending cuts. Then come to power, keep them in place and bring in their own.

Neolibs like to make a lot of noise about the other party's tax cuts but are perfectly fine with the TPP, free trade with China, globalization and hemispheric open borders.

Conservatives (like anyone else) are often wrong about a number of things. But at least you know where they stand. Neolibs are compulsive liars and manipulators. They pretend to be on the side of the people and betray them ever time. They give the people performances while giving oligarchs the keys to the kingdom for payola.

John B. said...

I don't how the Heritage Foundation came up with this one, but the talking point being added by all of them to their standard blurbs is that this latest redistribution through the tax code is somehow going to raise the wages of the long-suffering slugs in the wage-and-salary class. I can't figure out by what series of convoluted rationalizations the drivers likely to be stimulated by this legislation could be those responsible for producing that effect, particularly in any economy that already has such a low rate of unemployment to begin with. How do any of the cuts affect equilibrium wage rates, for what remains of their relevance when confronted with the rule of institutionalized wage arbitrage? I'll have to see if I can acquire a copy of whatever the latest storybook Paul Ryan made all of them read.

The libertarians have had thirty-five years in the US unmolested in practising their brand of magic but you'd never know it by listening to them. There's only one more thing that they always seem to need - more.

Trailblazer said...

, so far, there's little indication that the public are prepared to fight back while they still can.

The USA has become surreal.
The country is a TV reality show on steroids.

The USA has been on the receiving end of fake news for so long they would not recognise the truth if it stared them in the face.

Difficult as it may be, it's time for the world to isolate itself from the country that has been at war for most of it's history and uses aggression, financially and militarily,to achieve it's goals.
Trump remains popular simply because he represents the jack boot diplomacy that is America.


The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 12:44. You have the same facile grasp of neoliberalism that so many Americans do when it comes to socialism. The neoliberal order was the brainchild of Hayek and Friedman and was inculcated into the mainstream political realm by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, not some pack of liberals. That said, to the Liberals and Democrats eternal shame, they did not expunge it when power reverted to them. They institutionalized it.

A good many Americans have convinced themselves that Trump does not support neoliberal ideology. Yet he's done nothing, nothing at all to eliminate it. The TPP thing? You read far too much into that. Trump is back at the old establishment "trickle down" mantra that is the beating heart of neoliberalism. That's one reason why I coined the term "Gullibillies" to describe his supporters.

Anonymous said...

Anyong.....Could there be any chance of the American "Gullibillies" marching across the 49th Parallel? Only thinking. You are dead on with your comment to 12:23 PM.

Northern PoV said...

The tax plan ... close to being a done deal.
And then their is this:
"GOP’s court-packing spree: It’s only the beginning"* (Salon)

The kerfuffle over the fraudulent election (and esp blaming Russkies instead of the corrupt American system) is a distracting spectacle.

*Imagine if Harper was still in power here (ie 2015 elx with the opposition split between NDP, Libs and Greens). A supreme court filled with Russell Brown/Nadon-types would render very different decisions on for ex the Peel Watershed.

Trailblazer said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Anyong.....Could there be any chance of the American "Gullibillies" marching across the 49th Parallel? Only thinking. You are dead on with your comment to 12:23 PM.

I doubt it.
Most would expect to freeze the moment they crossed the 49th.
O' f**k shades of Canadian Bacon !!


Trailblazer said...

Have a laugh.