The Hidden Forest

There is an old saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Basically it is about distraction; focusing on part and therefore not seeing the whole. I fear we may well be in that situation when it comes to national politics. Let’s explore.

For years I have preached that one of the three pillars supporting today’s Republican Party is greed. When it comes to policy that translates to prioritizing tax cuts for the very wealthy a/k/a their biggest donors. This pursuit is the overriding principle in almost all Republican actions. I will turn to Washington and Raleigh to prove my point.

Last week the Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving North Carolina’s voting laws. That let stand a lower court ruling which threw them out declaring them to be racist. I’m purposely not getting into a lot of detail here because it is not germane to my argument and even as a North Carolinian who personally knows some of the parties involved it is confusing. By my count this is the 14th law passed by the Republicans since they took control of the North Carolina General Assembly to be declared unconstitutional. North Carolina’s taxpayers paid for the unsuccessful defense of each of them. In fact when the North Carolina Attorney General, (who was a Democrat), refused to defend these losing cases the Republicans in the General Assembly passed a law allowing them to employ private law firms at taxpayer expense. Sounds like total disregard for the taxpayers’ money and a great way to provide a return on investment to some big donors.

What did the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly do? They announced that they would soon be introducing a slightly modified version of the original bill which, having super majorities in both chambers, they will be able to pass over Governor Roy Cooper’s likely veto. By the time that certain lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court it will be heard by all nine justices. Do you think Neal Gorsuch’s presence will make a difference? I certainly do! The victory for the cause of justice was only temporary and I will get to pay a bunch of Republican contributing lawyers to defend a law designed to suppress the votes of people who do not support the greed of ultra-wealthy Republican donors.

Most of us are desperately trying to keep up with every new twist and turn in Russiagate. While we are distracted with breaking news, our daily diet of Sean Spicer and Trump’s tweets the Republicans are working behind the scenes trying to repeal Obamacare and revise the tax code.

From the Republican perspective the Obamacare repeal and replacement has precious little to do with health care and almost everything to do with a massive tax cut for the ultra-wealthy. The details are constantly shifting as the Republicans attempt to compromise among themselves but the basis has remained constant – eliminate the tax on the ultra-wealthy that Obamacare imposes.

There is behind the scenes work going on in Congress to try to come up with a tax reform package the key component of which will be a massive tax cut for the largest corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Individuals and small business may get a few crumbs but nothing like the big boys would see. Who do you think the largest contributors are? In business school we called it return on investment. When you give seven figures in often untraceable money you expect something in return. In business when you invest X dollars you expect a return of X+ dollars. To the lager donors this is business!

This is why the GOP will continue to stay with Trump until he becomes too big of a political liability. He will sign their bills if they can just manage to get them passed in the two chambers they control. Grover Norquist, one of their “high priests”, foretold this a few years back when he said the identity of the Republican occupant of the White House really didn’t matter; they just needed someone who would sign the legislation that a Republican Congress passed.

Watching the trees is important (and lately entertaining in a horrifying way). Make sure you don’t lose sight of the forest in the process; the forces of evil haven’t lost sight of their ultimate goals!

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