And if that weren’t bad enough, this bill, along with a similar measure that the House passed on Thursday with lightning speed, would, because of a 2010 budget law, trigger automatic cuts to Medicare and other important programs that low-income and middle-class Americans depend on. All told, the bills would add more than a trillion dollars to the federal debt for future generations to pay off.
What is this in service of? Republicans claim that their big corporate tax cut will turbocharge the economy by encouraging businesses to invest, create jobs and give raises. Not even business chieftains believe this trickle-down economics argument. When an editor at The Wall Street Journal asked a gathering of chief executives this week if they would invest more if Congress enacted the Republican tax cut, few hands went up. Gary Cohn, President Trump’s top economic adviser, who was a featured guest on stage at the time, seemed befuddled. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he said.
The administration’s cluelessness about how working people might see this cynical play for the rich was confirmed a day later when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, were photographed with a sheet of freshly printed one-dollar bills, smirking like a couple of Disney villains.
Few voters seem fooled. Just 25 percent approved of the tax plan in a recent Quinnipiac poll, while 52 percent said they disapproved of it. Even some Republican lawmakers are beginning to catch on that this tax-cut plan is politically radioactive. Representative Peter King of Long Island says that if the tax plan becomes law, all Republican members of Congress from the Northeast could lose their seats. Senator Ron Johnson, a conservative from Wisconsin, says he can’t vote for the bill because it treats big corporations so much better than small businesses. And Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, is worried that repealing the A.C.A.’s individual mandate could leave many middle-class families worse off by increasing insurance premiums despite any relief they get from a tax cut.
Republican leaders are pushing ahead to show their donors they can accomplish something, particularly letting them keep more of their money. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina captured this spirit when he said that “the financial contributions will stop” if Congress fails to pass a tax cut.
Republicans have made clear where their values lie. Well-heeled campaign funders matter. Middle-class families don’t.
The opposition of Mr. Johnson, Ms. Collins and others has raised hopes that a handful of Republican senators can be persuaded to torpedo this tax-cut bill in the same way that three of them sent the effort to repeal the A.C.A. down to defeat a few months ago.
It still boggles the mind that any lawmaker could support a proposal that would do so much damage to working people and the fiscal health of the government.