President Trump, in his victory celebration over the passage of the Republican tax bill today, said it was a big Christmas present to the American people. More properly, however, it is really a gigantic Christmas present to the Democratic Party, because it provides a ready-made single issue to construct their campaign platform around, for next year’s midterm elections. The bill is already wildly unpopular, so Democrats should spend much of the next year reinforcing this already-baked-in perception among the public. There is a window of opportunity to do so, since nobody will really be sure how the new tax system is going to work out for their family until April of 2019 ― months after the midterm elections happen.
The basic theme Democrats should use is unfairness. Republicans are hobbled by the facts, and so far have done an abysmal job of selling their tax cut to the public. Instead, the public is already overwhelmingly convinced this is nothing more than shoveling money at the wealthy and Wall Street, at their expense. They’re right, and all Democrats need to do is to agree with the public, essentially. The big lie of “trickle-down” has finally lost its appeal, to put this another way, which Democrats have been saying all along. The opportunity to make this case has never been better, in fact.
Speaking against the bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did a great job of pointing all this out, on the House floor this week. Here is just part of what she said:
Yesterday, our Republican colleagues stood on this floor and voted for a GOP tax scam that the American people oppose two-to-one. Our Republican colleagues stood on the floor and cheered, they cheered a bill that will raise taxes on 86 million middle class families and hand a staggering 83 percent of its tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent. Shamefully, the Republicans were cheering against the children ― as they rob from their future and ransack the middle class to reward the rich. So today, the Republicans take their victory lap for successfully pillaging the American middle class to benefit the powerful and the privileged.
. . .
The GOP tax scam is a monumental con-job. But who got conned? President Trump will sign a bill, whenever he signs it (I thought it was supposed to be today, but I hear the special interests are weighing for him to delay it for some reason or another). President Trump will sign a bill that betrays the promises he made in the campaign. President Trump promised to eliminate the carried-interest loophole. Yet the Republicans wrote a tax scam that not only continues this outrageous loophole, but even has more loopholes [for] the wealthy and well-connected. President Trump promised to stop corporations from shipping jobs overseas, but Republicans wrote a tax scam that gives corporate America even bigger incentives to ship jobs overseas. President Trump promised a tax reform focused on the middle-class families ― tax breaks for middle-class families. Republicans wrote a tax scam that raises taxes on 86 million middle-class families in our country. President Trump promised he would protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But Republicans wrote a tax plan to explode the deficit and use it as an excuse to cut Medicare [and] Medicaid ― they have made no secret of their plans and they have even said this week [they want] to raise the Social Security age.
So who got conned? Did the people get conned by the promises? Did the president get conned by the Republicans? Is he signing a bill that betrays his promises to the American people? It’s all about the Republicans in Congress. They have in their DNA trickle-down economics. Tax breaks for the rich. Tax breaks for corporations.
Democrats need to hammer these points home, over and over again. The public already thinks this bill is a total swindle, so this is going to be fairly easy to accomplish. Republicans have been losing votes from suburban and college-education Americans already, and they’re the people who are the least convinced that this tax bill is in any way fair to them (or to anybody else not worth millions, for that matter).
What follows is a draft of a speech any Democratic candidate for office next year should consider using. Republicans so successfully demonized the Affordable Care Act in 2010 ― a bill that was even more popular at the time than the GOP tax bill now is, it is worth mentioning ― that they picked up 63 seats in the House. Republicans have now handed Democrats a huge Christmas present tied up in a big red bow, by providing the same situation in reverse. Republicans will now be the ones who have to make the attempt to defend an incredibly unpopular bill. Democrats can use this as a springboard to energize voters to throw the bums out next November, if they can muster the same sort of voter outrage exhibited in 2010. Here is how I would go about accomplishing this.
Draft Democratic 2018 Midterm Stump Speech
Donald Trump got elected by making a lot of promises to what he called the forgotten Americans. He swore up and down that he’d reform the tax system so the fatcats wouldn’t continue to get away with murder. He promised he’d end the enormous tax break for hedge fund managers. He promised he’d close all the loopholes that special interests used to game the system. He promised that wealthy people like him would hate his plan, because it would cost them more money. He promised to drain the swamp. He promised to fix the deficit. He promised all the benefits would go to the middle class.
Allow me to put this in the simplest terms possible: Donald Trump sold you out. He sold you down the river. He sold you a bill of goods. He sold you a pig in a poke. He flat-out lied about all of it, in fact. Instead of draining the swamp, Trump created the biggest scariest swamp creature ever seen. Far from draining the swamp, the swamp won ― big time.
Instead of the pie in the sky Trump promised to the forgotten Americans, his tax plan instead hands almost all of the tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy and to giant corporations. He took a rigged system and rigged it even further away from helping the little guy. He forgot about the forgotten Americans he promised to help. He borrowed a trillion-and-a-half dollars and handed almost all of it to the fatcats. He did not end the tax break for the hedge fund managers. He did not close loopholes big businesses use to pay little or no tax ― instead, he expanded them. He made this even worse by taking away deductions from regular American families. He didn’t close loopholes ― he made it worse for you instead.
Donald Trump will quite likely save tens of millions of dollars on his taxes each and every year due to his tax plan. We don’t know exactly how many tens of millions of dollars, because he still refuses to publicly release his own taxes. What is he hiding? Could it possibly be the fact that he’ll save more in one year than the average middle-class family earns in an entire lifetime?!? That’s really the only conclusion possible. He has sold you out so he can line his own pockets, and the pockets of all the other millionaires and billionaires.
He’s not the only one, of course. Almost every Republican in the House and every single Republican in the Senate voted for this swamp creature. One lone GOP senator, Bob Corker, initially voted against the bill because ― for a very brief moment ― he still had a shred of backbone when it came to fiscal responsibility. He knew full well that Republicans were borrowing an astonishing 1.5 trillion dollars that our kids will have to pay for. But then Republicans bought his vote by including the “Corker Kickback” ― a provision tailor-made to save Corker millions on his own taxes. Corker took one look and promptly flipped his vote. So the only Republican who showed any sort of fiscal discipline at all was paid off, by the other Republicans stuffing money in his pockets. Oh, and as if it weren’t bad enough already, the Corker Kickback will also benefit Donald Trump to the tune of millions as well.
That’s how this bill got so many Republican votes. By buying them. Business as usual in Washington, folks. And you know what’s next on their list? Slashing Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. You know what they’re going to say? “The deficit is too high, so we simply have to slash social spending that millions of Americans rely upon.” This is the second half of the con job they’ve been planning for years.
Remember when Republicans couldn’t shut up about how awful the deficit was? Remember when they touted themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility? Remember all that? Well, you’re soon going to be hearing it all again ― while they hope you’ll conveniently forget about their swamp creature of a tax bill.
But they now have zero credibility to make this claim. They will be lying through their teeth and hoping you all won’t figure it out. They are simply no longer believable on the subject, since they just blew a multi-trillion-dollar hole in the deficit just to hand it all to Wall Street. Don’t believe them when they whine about deficits instead of paying for hurricane relief. Don’t believe them when they whine that they can’t possibly pay for children’s health care because of deficits. Don’t believe them when they cry crocodile tears over any amount of money short of one-and-a-half trillion dollars, since that’s what they just borrowed from your kids and grandkids just so Donald Trump can save tens of millions on his taxes. And to give every company on Wall Street enormous tax giveaways. These are the priorities of the Republican Party, so do not let them get away with complaining about deficits and the debt because they quite obviously do not care one tiny bit about this when it comes to showering money on the wealthiest Americans. Children’s health, or tax breaks for billionaires? We already know what’s more important to them. It’s obvious, and it’ll get even more obvious when Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell come gunning for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, early next year. Paul Ryan is even openly admitting this already, in case you have any doubt.
It has been over 80 days since Republicans allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program to be completely defunded. They spent all of that time putting together this swamp creature of a tax bill. Their priorities are on full display, folks. They are much more concerned with further rigging the system to benefit themselves and the Trumps of this country. They have “reformed welfare” by creating a huge welfare program for millionaires and billionaires, and they’re now going to say they just don’t have any money for poor people or the working class.
They swore you would be able to do your taxes on a postcard, but what they really did is make the tax code even more complicated. They cut taxes on businesses by forty percent, but they sure didn’t cut your taxes by that amount. You may see a few extra dollars in your paycheck next year, and then again you may not ― nobody’s really sure who will wind up paying more taxes under this swamp creature of a tax plan. Even if you do get a few more bucks back, you will have no idea if you’ll just owe it back at the end of the year, because Republicans purposefully made all of these changes so complex and dense that you won’t know until you sit down to do your taxes whether you’ll win or lose. And even if you do get a few hundred bucks back at the end of the year, your tax cut will be disappearing after a few years, while Wall Street’s monstrous 40-percent cut is permanent. Republicans said this was necessary so businesses could plan for the future ― meaning they don’t care about American families who also have to plan for the future. Meanwhile, your deductions will be limited and you will lose your personal tax exemption of $4,000 per person ― while Wall Street actually gets more deductions. That’s how Republicans view things ― you and your family are a hated “special interest,” while big business is worthy of even more loopholes to exploit.
That is flat-out unfair. It is, in fact, nothing short of a scam. Republicans have forgotten the forgotten Americans once again in order to lavish money on their donors. Call it the “Donor Party,” slogging through snow in the deep of winter. And guess who is on the menu? You are. The Republican Party, to paraphrase one of its founders, is now the party “of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy.” Period.
The Republican Party sold out the middle-class, plain and simple. They forgot the forgotten Americans, once again. They put over a trillion bucks on the nation’s credit card to give big businesses a 40-percent tax cut. Fully 83 percent of the benefits of this plan go to the wealthiest one percent of Americans. A whopping 86 million middle-class families will eventually see their taxes go up because of this monstrous con job. At best, you and your family might see a few extra dollars for a few years, before your taxes get even worse. That’s at best, mind you ― you might actually see your taxes go up next year.
In conclusion, Wall Street and Donald Trump’s family will get a gigantic ice cream sundae from the Republicans in Congress. You know what you’ll get? Peanuts. If you’re lucky, that is.
Republicans need to understand that people are not happy about the swamp creature they just passed into law. And the best way for them to get this message is to vote them out of office, starting next November. Because that’s really the only way the Washington swamp is going to get drained ― by kicking out the party of the wealthy and voting in some Democrats who actually care about families like yours.
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant