Beware of politicians bearing gifts

The tax bill President Trump is calling his “big beautiful Christmas present” to the country isn’t free. It will cost $1.5 trillion and, contrary to assurances by the president, secretary of the treasury and Republican leaders, it will NOT pay for itself.

The overwhelming amount of benefits will go to the super-rich and to corporations in the form of permanent tax cuts, while the rest of us, families and workers, are getting far smaller-than-promised cuts and they will disappear in 2025.

The president may have said this bill will “cost me a fortune,” but that’s simply not true. In fact, he may be one of the biggest beneficiaries of all, along with his sons, son-in-law and other big-time real estate developers.

We won’t really know exactly how huge the president’s benefits will be because he refuses keep his promise to voters to release his tax returns. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vladimir Putin already has a copy; maybe that’s why Trump is so afraid of him. Does anyone really believe this president would sign any legislation that would adversely affect him or his family’s fortunes?

Democrats and most Republicans were frozen out of the bill’s drafting, which was done in secret; there were no public hearings and no time for analysis by experts in the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Instead, the Republican leadership depended on party loyalty, fear of failure and “incentives”– bribes – to get the votes.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) initially said he was voting “no” because it raised deficits, but then some benefits were added for real estate investors like him and he became a “yes.” He denies there was any quid-pro-quo, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), number two in the Senate GOP leadership, told ABC’s “This Week” that some provisions that could personally benefit lawmakers like Corker were inserted to “cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.”

Other Republican senators also got “incentives.” Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski agreed to vote for it after getting approval for oil and gas drilling in her state’s National Wildlife Refuge. Maine’s Susan Collins sold her vote for a vague promise to consider doing something next year to protect Obamacare exchanges. Mario Rubio of Florida got a face-saving token increase in the Child Tax Credit. Jeff Flake of Arizona said party leaders promised they would bring up legislation next year to allow “dreamers” to stay in this country. Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson got a loophole to benefit companies like his family-run plastics business.

Columnist Fareed Zakaria called the bill possibly “the worst piece of legislation in modern history” because it takes money badly needed for infrastructure repair, scientific research, skills training and social welfare and gives it to the super wealthy and corporations that don’t need it.

Humorist Andy Borowitz got it right when he wrote, “Trump voters celebrate massive tax cut for everyone but them.”

Republican leaders know their assurances that the tax cuts will pay for themselves is a big lie, and that the invoices will start coming due next year as deficits begin to balloon. They already have a secret play to pay for all those baubles they’re giving to their rich friends, and guess whose pockets they’ll be dipping into.

Under a 2010 law, any legislation that adds to the federal deficit must be paid for by spending cuts, revenue increases or other offsets. “The biggest program to be affected is Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled,” the New York Times reported.

This is especially critical in light of America’s aging population and shrinking birth rate, Jews in particular.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is already talking about “entitlement reform.” That’s his euphemism for shredding the social safety net by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits.

Candidate Trump repeatedly promised he would “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts.”

Don’t bet on it.

Ryan and Republican leaders intend using the deficits produced by their huge tax cut giveaway to the wealthy as an excuse to take away benefits from those who genuinely need them. Just listen for words like “welfare reform” and “entitlement reform.” If you get Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or other federally funded health and welfare assistance, that jolt you feel may be Ryan & Friends pulling the safety net from under you.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.
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