It seems to me that we are at a crossroads in this country.  Someone is always saying that the country is at a crossroads, but this time seems different.  We have a president who is clearly not the quality of human being that our founding fathers envisioned when they conceived of the office.  In fact, the Electoral College was inserted into Article II, Section I of The Constitution to prevent exactly this situation.  It was inserted by the Federalists and defended by them--by Alexander Hamilton in particular--in the Federalist Papers with the same intent that resulted in putting a second body in our legislature made up of the very same people who were to choose the electors in the Electoral College: the ruling oligarchs of the various states.  As The Senate was intended to moderate the  radical to reactionary swings of the popularly elected House of Representatives, the Electoral College was intended to prevent the populous that elected the Representatives from doing the same with the presidency.  I think Hamilton is rolling in his grave muttering, "what have I done...woe is me...woe is the nation."  

As to the Republican Party, they don't exactly have a monopoly on disingenuousness, but they certainly have a healthy lead in the battle for first place in the disingenuousness race.  This morning I heard a Republican senator claim that the reduction $0 of the tax penalty for being without health insurance was a genuine tax reduction even though everyone now knows that the ulterior motive behind it is to relieve the federal government of the obligation to pay the subsidies required by the Affordable Care Act for all those for whom health insurance is otherwise unaffordable.  True, it is literally a tax cut, but it costs those who get it thousands of dollars of assistance they now get to make their lives healthier.  The Republican claim that it is anything but a way of taking one more thing from the poor and those who struggle financially is naked casuistry that is tantamount to a lie even if it isn't one literally.  Yet, there doesn't seem to be a hue and cry over their mendacity in service of their wealthier constituents, including President Trump.  Nor does anyone jump up in a rage when Trump says, contrary to all of the experts on the two tax plans being contemplated, that the new tax plans will cost him money, "believe me," he adds through his crocodile tears.

And now, every effort is being made to undermine the Bureau of Consumer Protection, without which Wells-Fargo would have been able to keep its ill-gotten gains purloined from its customers.  Somehow, the Trump administration opines that The Bureau is bad for our economy...apparently because it keeps big thieves from thieving big at everyone else's expense.  Supposedly it is curtailing banking activity despite the fact that the banks--the finance industry in general--is reaping more profits than ever.  Again, no hue and cry.  But I have hope.

All of this is happening in 2017, so it will have its effects by the beginning of 2019 when we pay our 2018 taxes.  At about the same time, the "net neutrality" regulations that keep internet service providers from reducing the data transmission speed of some content providers--you may remember when your television set or Roku had to stop transmitting pictures and sound every ten to fifteen minutes in order to buffer again before net neutrality went into effect in 2015--will have been abrogated so that every middle class household in the country will be suffering that inconvenience again.  Mess with people's money and that's one thing.  Mess with their Netflix and Amazon Prime and that's something else entirely.  I'm pretty sure there'll be a hue and cry then...just in time for the presidential election in 2020.

So, we may have to endure the indignity of a president who is...well, undignified for another three years, and we may be stuck with a congress, the majority of which is reactionary, plutocratic Republican until 2018 or 2020, but in the end, I feel encouraged to believe that when we all go to the polls, the Republicans, including the leader they reluctantly chose, will get their oats.  Take heart.  It's still the case that no one can take better aim at his own foot than a Republican.

Your friend,

Mike


Current continuing Republican hegemony in our politics still surprises me in light of the frequency with which Republicans reference lack of veracity in their rhetoric.  You would think that a group so insistent on the "fakeness" of the publicly available news would insist on veracity from its own politicians, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  For example, back in July--you may recall that the Republicans were trying to repeal and replace Obamacare by themselves at that time, drafting their bill behind closed doors--Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, justified the closed door enterprise by claiming that the Democrats had passed the Affordable Care Act the same way.  But on July 23 of this year, the New York Times published a comparison of the bill the Republicans produced with the ACA, and it indicated that while the Republican controlled Senate passed zero amendments to their bill proposed by the Democrats, when the ACA was passed it contained 188 Republican amendments, including the requirement that members of congress buy their insurance through the public health exchanges and allowing small businesses to syndicate their purchases of coverage.  And in fact...ironically...the ACA's mandate was a Republican idea originally, though now they are trying to undermine the ACA by repealing it concomitantly with what they call tax reform.  McConnell outright lied about the roles that the two parties played in their opponents healthcare-related legislative efforts, but that didn't seem to bother rank and file Republicans.  What it comes to is that hyperbole and outright misrepresentation are the coins of the Republican realm today, and for the past twenty years or so...thirty if you want to include the advent of "trickle-down economics," all of which has to elicit the question of whether the Republicans are telling the truth with regard to their two "tax reform" proposals.

Let me start my answer with this; I redid my taxes for 2016 using the tax brackets proposed in the House of Representatives and my wife and I will pay perhaps a thousand dollars more under the Republican plan than under the existing tax code.  Including my Social Security, we bring in something in the low hundred thousand plus range and we have no children at home any more.  We live pretty well, but we are not rich by any means...definitely firmly in the middle class.  The reason is that getting one $24,000 deduction instead of over $12,000 in exemptions and $16,000 in itemized deductions reduces our deductions by $4,000, which though taxed at a lower rate still results in higher net taxes.  Donald Trump will pay less, and the manager of your local hedge fund will still pay only 20% on his "earnings" because of a special provision just for him in the current and future codes, but if you are like most people who have worked hard, bought a house and put a little aside, there's a good chance you too will pay more.  The guy who built your house won't, but you will.  Then, in the Senate version of tax reform the insurance mandate is repealed, which sounds at first like a good thing.  But it's consequence will be that people for whom health insurance is a stretch will stop making the effort because...well, because it's a stretch.  The result will be that the federal government won't have to subsidize their premiums any more; they won't have insurance, but the federal budget deficit will be reduced, which might just be the margin the Republicans need to get their plan passed with a bare majority in The Senate instead of having to get 60 votes to pass it under the regular procedure.  With the mandate, their plan would raise the budget deficit too much to make the plan passable under what is called "reconciliation," which allows a simple majority to pass a finance related bill.

Of course, this all related to the fact that there will be federal elections in 2018 and the Republicans feel the need to pass something significant in order to satisfy their constituents, but here's the rub.  If they fail to pass anything, the voters will say that the party got both houses of congress and the white house from them and still couldn't do anything, so why let the Republicans keep their majorities.  On the other hand, if they pass something that will cost their constituents their tax refunds and even something more, they'll say that Republican policy favors the rich, including Trump and the new alligators with whom he has replaced the old alligators in his "swamp."  It's the old rock and hard place dilemma.  What's a party to do?  Or more aptly, someone is going to get screwed if they win.  Who's it going to be.

Your friend,

Mike

Categories

Pages

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.38

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory google-site-verification: google9129f4e489ab6f5d.html

Categories

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

google-site-verification: google9129f4e489ab6f5d.html