It’s said that the Devil’s greatest accomplishment is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. In like fashion the Republican party’s greatest achievement is in convincing the working class that it is its friend. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We see this with great clarity as the days go by with still no resolution to the debt ceiling mania. But one good thing is happening. The stark clarity of the fact that all the Republican party can think about is giving the rich tax breaks is there in bas relief for one and all to see.
Consider it. Bob Good, a Republican representative from Virginia, was talking with journalist Katy Tur yesterday and all he could talk about was the necessity of extending the Trump tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2025. Good insists that the tax cuts are “incentivizing the right things.” What right things? Trickle down theory? Are we back to that? Seemingly so.
Kevin McCarthy is holding firm. He says he will not entertain rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. No way. “[T]he problem is not revenue,” he insisted. “The problem is spending.” Spending on what? Transgender studies? Woke rhetoric? What exactly?
Don’t look for a lot of facts from the Republican side of the aisle. Because if you’re looking for facts, you need to know that they need to conceal them, because that’s the only way that their little shell game is going to survive.
Heather Cox Richardson has a good summary of how we got to where we are now. Joe Biden’s solution is reasonable in a real world context. He just wants to raise taxes on people making over $400,000. But the GOPers can’t stand it, because their sole reason for being is to keep the rich rich at all costs.
When Ronald Reagan called for tax cuts in 1980, he argued that tax cuts would concentrate money in private hands, enabling investors flush with cash to build the economy. That growth would keep tax revenues stable even with the lower rates. That was the argument, but it never came to pass. In fact, a 2022 study by political economists David Hope and Julian Limberg shows that “tax cuts for the rich…do not have any significant effect on economic growth or unemployment,” but they do “lead to higher income inequality in both the short- and medium-term.”
Indeed, Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price of the Economic Policy Institute, an independent, nonprofit think tank, noted in 2018 that 1% of all families in the U.S. take home 21% of all the income in the U.S., making 26.3 times more than the bottom 99%, whose average income is slightly more than $50,000 a year. On average in the U.S., someone would need an annual income of slightly more than $420,000 to be a member of that top 1%. In 2020, annual wages for the top 1% grew by 7.3% while those in the bottom 90% grew just 1.7%.
A 2020 study by Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards of the RAND Corporation showed that the changing economic distribution systems of the past forty years have moved a staggering $50 trillion upward, out of the hands of the bottom 90% of Americans. (The national debt is currently about $31.5 trillion.)
That’s the lay of the land. And it is against this background that Biden is proposing his ideas.
President Biden’s 2024 budget proposes to reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade by raising taxes on those who make more than $400,000 a year. His budget would effectively repeal the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, restoring the top tax rate to 39.6% rather than the 37% the 2017 cuts established. It would also raise corporate taxes from 21%, to which the 2017 tax cuts dropped them, to 28%, lower than the high of 35% before the Trump tax cuts.
Those are the broad brush strokes. But the Republicans won’t have it. No, they will not agree to tax hikes of any sort. They want to go after the social safety net and shred it instead. Just the other day Matt Gaetz was talking about “negotiating with our hostage” and he was referring to the Democrats but in a larger context to the American people. The real hostage is the social safety net.
Remember McCarthy’s bill, Limit, Save, Grow? They’re in love with that. Limit, Save, Grow, would “cut discretionary government programs by at least 18%—more if Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits aren’t included.” “My conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage,” were Gaetz’ exact words.
As Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post pointed out last week, the bill also forces Congress to approve every “major” regulation proposed by a government agency, with the recognition that Congress is unlikely to agree to any such regulation, thus unraveling the federal government.
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who before the 2022 election called for sunsetting all laws every five years, forcing Congress to repass all discretionary spending, today fell back on the idea that Democrats calling for addressing the deficit through taxation are socialists. Poking fun at the recent travel advisories by LGBTQ, immigrant, and Black rights organizations warning against visiting Florida, he issued a “formal travel advisory” for “socialists” “in direct response to the Biden Administration attempts to erase capitalism and the system that has brought prosperity to Florida and the entire United States.”
Socialists. Yea, verily communists. Don’t look now, but they’re back under the bed and they’re “looking to erase capitalism,” to destroy our way of life. And Marxists is another term frequently thrown around. The socialism label, all the labels, are what the Republicans are using to foment fear amongst the working class, that they’re about to lose all their rights. Not under Joe Biden’s plan, they are not. Not even close. But perception is everything, and propaganda eclipses fact on a regular basis in the ecosystem of disinformation in which we dwell.
The reality is that the good little Republican shills are protecting their rich Republican daddies, which is what they’re there to do, by protecting Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. And they’re making the right noises about socialism and communism and ginning up the fear level to control the working class. Also, what they’re there to do.
That’s the game. That’s as simple as it is. What the resolution will be, vis a vis the debt ceiling negotiations, I do not know. But the clock is ticking and surely the uber wealthy powers that be can’t believe that instituting a global recession would be a good idea. Look to their thoughts and needs, because that’s who the GOP is taking its marching orders from.