Friday, November 17, 2017


The Republican tax bill, in both its House and Senate versions, is awful:
... the Senate tax-cut bill ... lavishes generous permanent tax breaks on corporations, while modest tax cuts for the middle class would vanish into thin air after 2025. Millionaires would enjoy average tax cuts of $5,580 in 2027, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, at which point families earning less than $75,000 a year would pay more taxes.

... it calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for most people to have health insurance. This would leave 13 million people without insurance and drive up premiums for many others who are already struggling to afford coverage, all in the interest of reducing spending by $338 billion so Republican lawmakers can cut taxes for big businesses....

And if that weren’t bad enough, this bill, along with a similar measure that the House passed on Thursday with lightning speed, would, because of a 2010 budget law, trigger automatic cuts to Medicare and other important programs that low-income and middle-class Americans depend on.
It's wildly unpopular:
American voters disapprove 52 - 25 percent of the Republican tax plan....

The wealthy would mainly benefit from this tax plan, 61 percent of American voters say, while 24 percent say the middle class will mainly benefit and 6 percent say low-income people would mainly benefit.

American voters say 59 - 33 percent that the Republican tax plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle class.

Only 16 percent of American voters say the Republican tax plan will reduce their taxes, while 35 percent of voters say it will increase their taxes and 36 percent say it won't have much impact on their taxes.

Only 36 percent of voters believe the GOP tax plan will lead to an increase in jobs and economic growth, while 52 percent do not believe it.
And yet even observers who believe Democrats could benefit from a wave election in 2018 think that might not be enough to win them the House (and a Senate majority would be even harder to attain).

We're now living in an era of post-popularity democracy. Republicans simply believe, with good reason, that they don't need popular proposals in order to retain power. They believe they can survive extraordinarily unpopular proposals, because gerrymandering, vote suppression, disciplined propaganda efforts by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, and massive amounts of money from the plutocrats who like what they propose will get them through.

At this point, it almost doesn't matter what they do, because their voters care only about who they are -- or, rather, who they aren't. They're not Democrats. Democrats are evil. Republican voters will put up with anything from their party's elected officials as long as those officials make clear that they're defying the wishes of the hated Democrats.

Why does the Republican Party survive? Why would passing this tax bill not be, as many observers believe, political suicide? Let's take a look at an opinion piece that seems unrelated -- Peggy Noonan's denunciation of Roy Moore.

Her headline is "Alabama Women, Say No to Roy Moore." She's against Moore -- but it takes her a while to say so. First she has to run through an indictment of Democrats and liberals that takes up the majority of her column inches:
Alabama has its back up, or at least its Republicans and conservatives do, and it’s understandable. They don’t like when Northerners and liberals and people in Washington tell them who their senator should be. They don’t like when reporters from outside come down and ask questions and turn over rocks looking for what’s crawling on the underside. There’s always an underside. Man is made from crooked timber.

People from the Deep South feel culturally patronized. This is because they are. Reporters from outside don’t admire or relate to them; when a Washington Post journalist presented as fact, in a 1993 news report, that evangelical Christians are “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command,” you know he was thinking of Southern evangelicals. Hollywood has long cast Southerners as witless and brutish in films from “Inherit the Wind” to “Deliverance” and “Mississippi Burning.”

Politically, Southern conservatives have long decried a double standard. Ted Kennedy spent much of his life as a somewhat inebriated rouĂ© whose actions caused the death of a young woman, but now we’re instructed to call him the Lion of the Senate. Bill Clinton was worse than Roy Moore. Mr. Clinton was accused of rape, harassment and exposing himself, but his party backed him and he kept the presidency. Democratic Sen. Al Franken was credibly accused Thursday, by an anchor at KABC radio in Los Angeles, of groping and harassing her on a USO tour in 2006. When she resisted him, Leeann Tweeden wrote, “Franken repaid me with petty insults,” and took an obscene photo of her on the way home, as she slept. Will the liberal media dig into Mr. Franken as they have dug into Mr. Moore? Or is he too good a source and friend?
This is South-specific, but a variation on it is believed in the Midwest and the interior West, in upstate New York, in non-coastal parts of California, and in a lot of places in between. Liberal elitists hate you. Democrats get away with murder. The other guys are evil, therefore we surely ought to continue administering collective punishment on them, even though Moore's opponent, Doug Jones, isn't a Yankee and hasn't, as far as anyone knows, sexually assaulted or harassed anyone.

Several more paragraphs ensue in which Noonan assails Jones for being pro-choice. And only then do we get (I'm paraphrasing) Nevertheless, Alabama women should rise up and demand a new Republican candidate in place of Roy Moore.

Noonan writes,
If Roy Moore had a long and demonstrated history of randomly attacking children with a baseball bat, or if the FBI announced it had found in his possession a stash of child porn, Moore supporters would never back him.
But they would. You've given them all the reasons, Peggy. They would just deny the allegations, because Democrats are evil.

When you work people up into this state of rage, they'll accept anything that comes from the enemies of their enemies. Including a tax bill that punishes them the way the GOP bill does.

No comments: