– By Mike Smith
I am assuming that readers have been staying tuned to the news on the Republican Party Tax Scam. I
would like to cover briefly how we got here – how, in a democracy, we could end up hurting the very
people who should be served by their government.
It started with a failure by Congress to repeal the ACA. Thanks to solidarity by the Democratic Senators
and three strong Republic Senators, the last in a line of Republican failures unfolded. To the average
American, that was a victory, but to the donors and very rich, it was a sign that the Republican
leadership could not deliver. The donors signaled their displeasure: if you can’t pass something
significant on our agenda, don’t come around asking for money again.
With a quick shift from health care to tax reform, the Republican leadership pulled out their hole card:
reducing corporate taxes. It had always been part of the playbook and was the one issue where there
could be unity. Of course, there had to also be a significant tax cut for the wealthy because, … well you
Republicans had a majority in both houses plus someone calling himself a Republican in the White
House. Everyone sensed the need to get this right. The only stumbling-block appeared to be procedural:
to use the reconciliation process (which allows budgetary matters to be passed with a simple majority)
the effect on the National debt must be neutral ten years hence.
With much debate, it was decided in the House Budget Committee that the taxation changes could
develop a $1.5 trillion deficit. Somehow it would be argued that a combination of growth and sunsetting
some of the tax cuts (guess whose) would restore the National debt to its current level within the ten
The other problem was time. The reconciliation process can only be used once a year on any topic. The
bill had to be go through quickly to be signed by the end of the year so that reconciliation would be
available for tax matters again next year. That meant no committee hearings, no expert testimony, no
consulting with Democrats, no waiting around for detailed analysis.
The tension and desperation were palpable, and the lobbyists sensed the opportunity. Any scheme
could get an audience if it could show that it assisted in providing the tax break to corporations other
and wealthy potential donors. Sad.
In the end, this is not really a tale of legislative process and a representative democracy at work. It is a
tale of how money has corrupted our government and is ruining our beloved country.