I have mocked the MAGA (make America great again) theme of the 2016 Trump campaign as unpatriotic and a flat out lie. America is a great nation. In my opinion it is the greatest nation in the history of the planet. Not perfect; but sum and total by far the best. I feel fortunate to have been born an American and to have lived my life here. A scary thought struck me the other day: what if Trump was telling the truth all this time and his idea of greatness was radically disconnected from reality? Let’s explore.
My writing might not always reflect it but I like to judge a lot of things by economics. (That still leaves plenty of room for social issues – most of which I care about deeply.) Republicans’ economic values and policy hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years or more. The core values are deregulation (they like to use the term “Free market”) and redistribution of wealth to the top (their current term is “Tax reform”).
The policies of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover brought us the Great Depression. The policies of George W. Bush brought us the Great Recession. Is that what Trump and the Republicans are trying to replicate with the Trump Tower Tax Cut? On the chance that they can actually enact it what will history call the result? Will it be the Great Collapse? Maybe, the Great Economic Catastrophe? Perhaps, the Great Decline?
Perhaps that is the root of the entire misunderstanding. I define the word great as an escalation of good. When I coached I would look at a good player as a possible starter. A great player was someone who could take the team to a conference championship and end up becoming a legend at the school. My view of success was that the team (the whole) won (achieved success). Trump’s and the GOP’s view appears to be that certain individuals achieve success and the fate of the whole doesn’t matter. I scored my twenty; who cares that we lost?
The Trump Tower Tax Cut is just another attempt to dramatically slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans. A preference is given to inherited income over earned income. Working class people inherit little or nothing in their lifetime. To “pay” for this giant tax break the Republicans are prepared to take even more from the low and moderately paid Americans. In too many states teachers are vastly underpaid. School budgets are inadequate to meet the needs of a classroom teacher. Largely through the effort of Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins the current tax code lets teachers deduct up to $250 from their federal tax liability for school supplies they personally buy for their student. (Sadly a lot of teachers feel compelled to do that.) The Trump Tower Tax Cut removes that deduction. Many dedicated, underpaid and under resourced teachers would have the “privilege” of helping subsidize a tax cut for the Trumps and the Kochs.
The Senate version currently includes repealing the mandate in Obamacare. That will result in 13 million Americans losing health insurance. Inevitably that will result in what otherwise would have been preventable deaths. Those Americans will not die in vain; their deaths will help provide tax relief for big GOP donors like the DeVos and Mercer families.
In case you neither die nor lose your insurance the Republicans are still allowing you to participate. Those who manage to keep their health insurance will see their premiums go up an additional 10% to the normal increase. (You say I get my health insurance through work. Who do you think really pays for it? You do!) Maybe that will be of some consolation the next time you have to tell your kid “No” because you can’t afford something like a stop to McDonalds or those new sneakers.
To a great degree it is our own fault, (collectively anyway). I came across an astounding stat the other day. In the 2016 election 53% of white women voted for Trump. That was only a 3 point drop from what Mitt Romney received in 2012. I’m no Romney fan but, especially after the Access Hollywood tape, are you going to tell me that Donald Trump is basically as acceptable to white women as Mitt Romney? (Hillary Clinton won women overall because of non-Caucasian female voters.)
Another set of telltale provisions in the Trump Tower Tax Cut is that corporate tax breaks are permanent while individual tax breaks (modest as they are) sunset by 2025. Keep in mind that 80% of equities are owned by the top 10%; 40% by the top 1%. The factory worker loses their job while the CEO gets a bonus and the major shareholders get a higher dividend. Your 401K (which they are looking at limiting) is small potatoes and if you lose your job you’ll have to live off of it and hope it last long enough to get you to retirement.
Trump and the Republicans may be trying to make America great again in their eyes. We just have a different definition of the word: great. What is great in their eyes is not even good in mine!
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