Is the Republican Party Committing Suicide?

Trump Maladministration

It’s been an interesting few hours.

In a truly wild and dizzying Friday night and Saturday morning in Washington, Senate Republicans committed collective political suicide by passing a deeply detested tax bill they were still writing seemingly moments before they jammed it through on a party-line vote with no hearings and no meaningful input from a public that hasn’t even seen the text of the legislation.

The thing has been revised so many times it may take a few days to sort out what’s in it. Since there are still significant differences between the Senate and House bills there’s still a slim chance it will die in reconciliation, but it seems the entire GOP is in a what the hell let’s set our hair on fire and see what happens mood. I think it’s going to get done, unfortunately.

Whatever adjustments Republicans made to pass the bill, the basics of this atrocity are pretty straightforward: It will permanently slash the corporate tax rate, even though American companies are swimming in record rivulets of cash profits. That rate may go up over time to satisfy the deficit hawks, but it will ultimately end up at a much lower endpoint than it’s at today. The bill will eliminate the inheritance tax, allowing denizens of Richistan to reproduce the Trump family dynamic of billionaire thieves passing their ill-gotten largesse in gigantic lump sums to their own shiftless children. To pay for this pointless handout to people with third homes in Jackson Hole, Republicans also eliminated or reduced a series of popular tax deductions and incentives almost exclusively for people that voted against them. The tax code has been weaponized.

And of course, Senate Republicans included a gratuitous repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, something that will save the government billions by ultimately pushing about 13 million people out of the insurance market altogether and will spike premiums for everyone else in the exchange markets. The whole sordid thing will add roughly $1 trillion or more to the deficit over the next decade, according to the Fake News Congressional Budget Office and the Failing Non-Partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. I could bore you with a thousand quotes from GOP leaders during the Obama administration about how the national debt is the dingo that will eat your baby for breakfast, the demon that will possess your grandchildren and rob them of their prosperity, but do I really have to? All you need to know is that if these Republicans saw a balanced budget drowning in an icy river, they would whistle while they walked right by it. They literally never cared.

The only thing that might save the Republican Party is the inability of Democrats to make a big enough noise about this monster.

But 2018 is likely to be an interesting election year. If the tax bill is signed into law, sooner or later the American people will notice how it is impacting their lives. People will lose health care and see premiums go up.

And in 2019, as folks are preparing their 2018 taxes, a lot of them are going to notice that their taxes actually went up.

Meanwhile, Trump is going to have to fight to keep is job. At Vanity Fair, T.A. Frank has an interesting theory on what might happen next:

Now we get to the main point, which is that passage of this bill marks the end of Trump’s presidency. Trump (along with his supporters) seems to feel that triumphing on taxes will give him the momentum to move onto other great things. It won’t. It will offer Republicans the chance to abandon him. More than anything, this piece of legislation is what Republicans needed from the president. Trump has been a building fire that Republicans wouldn’t put out because they needed it to light their cigars. But now the G.O.P. has got what it wanted. It can puff and move along.

Trump might think what comes next is his wall or maybe even—who knows how much he dreams?—an infrastructure bill. These won’t happen. His leverage with his party will be spent. Even minor reforms to immigration policy are unlikely to happen. Trump is reportedly set to appoint Tom Cotton, the lone immigration wonk among Republicans in the Senate, to the C.I.A., where Cotton will abandon domestic legislation in favor of foreign-threat assessments. With his reputation for hawkishness, Cotton will, as the joke goes, fill a much-needed void.

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, nothing is brash or loud. He won’t denounce Trump in fiery orations. We’ll just notice that Trump’s enemies seem to be having easier time circling in on him. The car that was parked in the path of the fire truck yesterday will have moved mysteriously to the side. McConnell will clear his throat and look the other way as Trump’s foes charge through. Trump might have no choice but to push through this bill, and he no doubt likes what it does. But tax cuts were also Trump’s bargaining chip in dealing with the G.O.P. He’s about to let that chip go, just as the G.O.P. is about to let Trump go.

If it were all up to the Senate, I’d agree. But bills of impeachment must originate in the House, and I don’t think Republicans in the House are there yet. But that could change now that the Mueller investigation is tightening the noose. If House Republicans decide Trump is a liability as the midterms approach, all bets are off.

The tax bill is a horror that will damage a lot of people, not to mention the the nation. But maybe, like Prohibition, the GOP’s obsession with tax cuts may be something that won’t go away until it goes into effect and utterly fails.

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  1. moonbat  •  Dec 2, 2017 @3:31 pm

    Now that the tax bill is done, I also expect a certain number of Republicans to turn on Trump. Not a lot, just a few.

    The people who will be adversely affected by the tax bill will grow over time. It will be a small chorus of the powerless at first. Trump will still have a good chance at getting a second term in 2020, especially if the economy continues to do well. IMO, the public won't turn on the Republicans in big enough numbers until after 2020.

    I don't think the Mueller investigation will amount to much, unless the economy sours. Not that Mueller won't find damning evidence – he will – it's just that the Republicans and Trump are masters at manipulating people's perceptions. And impeachment depends on enough Republicans getting serious about Trump – and there aren't enough of them, and their base doesn't care. Recall that impeachment begins in the House, which will likely still be dominated by Republicans after 2018.

    When the Flynn plea deal was announced, someone showed the Fox News home page – Flynn was in a tiny box at the lower left, while (guess who) Hillary's face dominated the page. It's all Hillary and Obama's fault.

    Consider the immense structural disadvantages the Democrats have: the electoral college, gerrymandering, and the fact that their most popular leader is Bernie Sanders, who says he's running and is in his late 70s. That's pathetic.

    I was astonished that this recent blue wave election of a few weeks ago, while not insignificant, had so little practical effect, because of gerrymandering. And Trump is nominating someone to run the 2020 census, who wrote a book called <a href="">Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America</a>. In other words, the GOP is putting in someone to run the census who doesn't know squat about statistics, but who is wholly committed to gerrymandered elections. And they're going to ram this guy in, in such a way as to not require a Senate confirmation.

  2. Tom_b  •  Dec 2, 2017 @4:53 pm

    “. And impeachment depends on enough Republicans getting serious about Trump”. 

    I don’t think impeachment is needed, or forthcoming; Mueller could get him on a state-based felony — say tax evasion — and he goes to jail with no pardon potential and no input from the so-called legislative branch. I want to see video of a smirking Secret Service agent trying to get his arms far enough behind him to put on the cuffs.

  3. maha  •  Dec 3, 2017 @11:59 am

    Tom-b Except, constitutionally, he would still be the President, and I don’t think anyone would arrest him no matter what charges are against him. They’d still have to go through constitutional processes to remove him from office.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 2, 2017 @5:27 pm

    This tax cut for the rich will be the GOP committing suicide?

    I'm sorry, but hardly.

    Up until this morning, some people thought Republicans would blink, and pull back, when they realize the size of the deficit they'll cause with this latest bill.

    I believe that the Republicans look at massive deficits as either job security, or a chance for advancement.

    After Reagan ran up the largest national debt yet to date, Clinton had to come in and fix the deficit the GOP caused.
    He spent his presidency largely cutting it down.
    His reward?
    Al Gore lost, and W won.
    And W started running-up a new, even larger, massive deficit.

    After W, Obama had to come in and fix the deficit the GOP caused.
    He spent a good piece of his presidency largely cutting it down.
    His reward?
    Hillary Clinton lost, and tRUMP won.
    And now, tRUMP is starting to run-up a new, even larger, massive deficit:

    And, let's say they lose either or both house of Congress in the next two election cycles.
    Including the presidency.
    When the Democrats inherit this new, MASSIVE debt, Republicans will bitch to the public that they can't fix it fast enough.
    And when Democrats have to come-up with the least damaging ways to limit entitlement programs, the Republicans will BLAME THEM!
    And our cowardly, compliant, and complicit MSM, will go along for the ride – AGAIN!!!
    And the voters will elect more, new, EVEN WORSE, Republicans.
    And the cycle will start again.


    Nothing to see here.

    Business as usual:
    Massive deficits – GOP job security.


  5. moonbat  •  Dec 2, 2017 @9:25 pm

    The GOP looks at massive deficits as a feature, not a bug, as way to cut back SS and Medicare. That's what's coming next year.

  6. Ten Bears  •  Dec 3, 2017 @10:24 am

    Drumpf uck is first and foremost an entertainer. A carnival barker, ringside wrasslin' announcer, a showman regardless how distasteful, not to mention the three card monte. What if …

    What if all of this were theater? What if after all of this: after the horrible house bill is reconciled with the horribler senate bill into an even horribler bill sent to his desk, Drumpf uck vetos it?

    Three card monte.

  7. Billikin  •  Dec 3, 2017 @11:42 am

    To oversimplify, the Republicans are the party of the rich and the White working class, neither of which will complain about the tax bill. It will hurt the middle class, to be sure.

    Are the Democrats the party of the middle class (among others). Hard to say, as they not only sat by but abetted the gutting of the middle class over the last few decades.

  8. Doug  •  Dec 3, 2017 @12:42 pm

    The Tax Bill won't take effect (if passed) until Jam 1 2018 and the changes won't take effect for us – in any practical way until we file in 2019. The benefits for regular citizens will be real -but only for 5 years. 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 – So the good times, relative to elections a bigger tax refund extend over the 2020 and 2022 AND 2024 elections. The tax hike from the expiration of the higher deductions if you do not itemize kicks in AFTER the  2024 election in November. Coincidence, I' sure.

    The immediate liability in the bill is that an estimated 13 million people will lose health insurance. There's no way that the damage can be limited to democrats, though some of the tax deductions will pound taxpayers in CA and NY. Obituaries written after 2017 need to note in the last sentence if the deceased had health coverage until the Trump Tax Bill took it away.

    The other issue that will resonate partially with voters is the deficit. What they GOP is doing is totally irresponsible – the deficit is dangerously high no matter which party is in power. Some conservative voters can see that a tax cut has to be revenue neutral. I was surprised that the Freedom Caucus was so  willing to cave on that basic principle. As a matter of pure opinion, I think they were told that getting the deficit under control would be the next priority and it would be done by further draconian cuts to social programs. 

    How hungry do people have to be before they realize they have to vote?

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 3, 2017 @5:11 pm


    Voting may be limited to the people the conservatives want to have vote.

    On top of their contiuned efforts to suppress the vote, they've added a new wrinkle:

    'The potential appointment of Brunell has amplified existing concerns that the Trump administration will seek to alter the 2020 U.S. Census in a manner that could have long-lasting ramifications. “If true, it signals an effort by the administration to politicize the Census,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, told Politico. “It’s very troubling.”

    "According to Politico, Brunell has testified on behalf of Republicans in a half-dozen gerrymandering court cases and penned a book titled Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America. As a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, his research, which centers on redistricting and voting-rights cases, has frequently been used by the G.O.P. to defend gerrymandering."

    As Stalin once said:
    'I't's not who votes that counts, it's who counts the votes.'                    With the current electronic voting machines in place, I'm afraid the conservatives have BOTH covered. 


  10. Bill  •  Dec 3, 2017 @6:27 pm

    A brave new "vote or die" campaign would work if the two parties weren't so (in varying degrees) corrupt and ineffectual.  Longer term, a brave new party would almost certainly have to be nationalistic.  Average Joes seem to respond more and better to "Our God And Our Country is better than their god and their country", than they do arcanely nebulous economic treatises.

  11. Swami  •  Dec 3, 2017 @9:47 pm

    Doug … If Paulie Ryan seizes the Presidency he can have Kevin McCarthy as his Vice -President. It will be a partial completion of the dreams of the young guns. Or he can choose Eric Cantor as VP and move McCarthy to the Speaker of the House position to effect a triumvirate. 

  12. aj  •  Dec 3, 2017 @9:59 pm

    The whole point of creating a deficit  hole is to dismantle the new deal to pay it. A Paul Ryan  smirk wet dream. Drowning government in a toilet as norquist said. Their fondest wish. Will enough people wake up to stop it? 

    When business gets two trillion back from abroad will they buy robots with it?

  13. Dickeylee  •  Dec 3, 2017 @11:57 pm

    As long as we can get those workhouses for the wee laddies and lasses back up and running.

  14. starskeptic  •  Dec 4, 2017 @1:11 am

    If I was going to describe corporate cash profits – 'rivulets' would not be my 'go-to' word…

  15. Ruby  •  Dec 4, 2017 @6:02 am

    I appreciate your postings.  I don't think that the Republicans think they are committing political suicide.  I think they are planning to overthrow our democracy.  Much like the Business Plot in the 1930's.

  16. Procopius  •  Dec 4, 2017 @10:44 am

    I do wish people would be more careful about their language. The tax bill is not going to add $1 trillion to the deficit, it's going to add at least $3 trillion to the national debt, which is what we get as the deficit adds up over time. Actually, the national debt is not currently a problem and we could probably be comfortable with a debt two or three times as large as this. Bear in mind the National Debt is Treasury Bonds, or valuable assets being held by rich people. It's like their savings accounts. Stick your money in the U.S. Treasury, there ain't no safer place in the world. At least until Trump yells at the guy carrying "the football" and demands the code. After that, all bets are off. The reason I say it's going to add a lot more to the Debt is because the last known configuration of the treatment of "pass-through" entities is a clear invitation to game the system and set up your income stream to come through a pass-through to get a lower rate than personal income tax. Revenue is going to drop like a rock. 

  17. chris  •  Dec 8, 2017 @10:19 am

    Are the Republicans committing suicide or are they playing the long game?