By Thomas Kennedy
Back in September, Senator John McCain announced in a statement that he could not "in good conscience" vote for the GOP's healthcare bill, effectively ending Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
There was good reason for his decision. The GOP Senate health care bill was crafted in secret without any hearings or input from Democratic legislators. The result was legislation that would have taken health care away from 22 million Americans and would have resulted in higher costs for those left with health insurance.
Before voting no, McCain urged his colleagues to work together and "trust each other" during his first-floor speech since being diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle," Said McCain.
Three months later, here we go again. Senate Republicans once again pushed a bill with complete disregard for our democratic institutions. The United States Senate is now completely out of control. Lobbyists have taken control of the legislative process, writing the GOP Senate tax bill in secret with the goal of giving massive corporate tax cuts, while shuffling hundreds of billions of dollars in what is the equivalent of looting the tax payer funded federal budget. The process was so ridiculous that Republicans literally scribbled handwritten notes and crossed out whole sections of the bill last minute.
John Mccain voted for this bill, despite his speech back in September on the sanctity of the American legislative process. The bill ultimately passed along party lines, with only Senator Bob Corker defecting on the GOP side.
Back in June, I wrote an article titled “Americans Pay The Price When Our Political Institutions Erode”.
The GOP #TaxScamBill is an example of how steep that price can be.
On Wednesday, Republicans seemed to reach a compromise tax plan, expanding tax cuts for the wealthy and making massive cuts to the corporate tax rate.
Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump spoke of a middle-class tax cut that would not benefit wealthy people like him, providing an economic boost while not adding to the national debt. What we got instead is the exact opposite. The Republicans just approved adding $1.5 billion to the debt over the next 10 years, while the richest 20 percent of households would benefit from 90 percent of the tax cuts over the same time period.
To pay for this massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the Republicans are aiming to dismantle the social safety net that the most vulnerable in our society depend on.
Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said recently that he wants his party to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on government programs. President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.”
Republican legislators are quickly falling in line, such as the senator from my home state, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who said last week, “You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn't the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.”
The tax bill could go up for a vote as early as this week. It is up to the people to let members of Congress know that the looting of our middle class is unacceptable. Unfortunately, it seems that some lawmakers have nothing but contempt for the public. When our political institutions erode, Americans indeed pay the price, and it is usually the most vulnerable in our society that do so.
Thomas Kennedy is a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change.