The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Up is down. Would is wouldn’t. “What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.” And a new round of GOP tax cuts, proposed this week, definitely will not result in damage to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security!

Definitely.

Republicans live in an Alice-in-Wonderland World where they can pass $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that won’t cost anything. They’ll pay for themselves! Just like a worker’s mortgage does every month. Just pays for itself! And then the GOP can propose another $1 trillion in tax cuts that also won’t cost anything! They certainly won’t increase the federal deficit!

The reason Republicans believe in Magic Unicorn Money is that they never actually socialize with, or speak to, or even vaguely know minimum-wage workers, or middle-class workers or precariat workers who drive for Uber at night because their day jobs deny them full-time hours. These workers get paid in cold, hard currency that lacks the power of Unicorn Money to magically materialize whenever necessary to pay bills.

Up is down. When Republicans passed their massive tax cut for the rich and corporations in December, most credible economists, including nonpartisan ones in the government itself such as the Joint Committee on Taxation, estimated it would cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years. That is, the government would receive $1 trillion less in tax payments. Which means $1 trillion less to pay bills. Which means higher deficits. Especially since Republicans increased spending.

Republicans said that wasn’t true. It wouldn’t happen. No way. Just last month, Larry Kudlow, director of the President’s National Economic Council, told Fox News that the tax cuts caused the deficit to decline, “And it’s coming down rapidly,” he said.

Yeah, about that: Tax collections from corporations, which got the biggest, fattest tax cut of all, are near a 75-year low as a share of the economy. In the first six months of 2018, tax receipts from corporations fell by $50 billion when compared to the first half of 2017. That means the federal government received about a third less money from corporations. That drop-off is enlarging the federal deficit even faster than economists had predicted.

This decline in revenue for the feds is occurring even as corporations are rolling in cash. Their profits after taxes have hit all-time record highs. They’re spending that slush fund on stock buybacks, which raise stock prices, thus enriching already rich shareholders and CEOs. They’ve announced $436.6 billion in buybacks—the most ever and nearly double the old record.

Would is wouldn’t. Of course, those cash-fat corporations have awarded big raises to workers, just like Kevin Hassett, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said they would. “I would expect to see an immediate jump in wage growth,” ranging between $4,000 and $9,000 for the typical worker, Hassett said in October, just before Congress passed the tax cuts.

Maybe what he meant to say was “wouldn’t” expect that jump in wage growth. Fewer than 500 of the nation’s 6 million employers gave workers a one-time bonus or a wage increase because of the massive corporate tax break, according to tracking by the group Americans For Tax Fairness. U.S. government data show that for nonsupervisory workers in the first quarter of 2018, real wages—that is, wages adjusted for inflation—fell 0.1 percent, and private data show them dropping even further in the second quarter.

While corporations wouldn’t come through with those raises, prices workers had to pay this year shot up, including those for gasolineinterest on credit card debtand health insurance.

That is the real, lived experience of workers. Higher costs and no additional money to pay them. Not only did corporations stiff them, but workers are not feeling that tax break in their paychecks either. Only a quarter of those surveyed in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll said they’d seen more money in their paychecks as a result of the tax cut. By contrast, 52 percent said they saw nothing. Nada. No bump for the working chump. And those guys aren’t happy about it. The poll found only 37 percent supported the tax cuts.

But a worker can’t be trusted to really understand his or her own paycheck, right? What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

Republicans are trusting that statement to be right—that workers don’t actually know what’s happening. The House GOP announced this week they’re going to extend the individual tax cuts—the ones workers couldn’t find in their paychecks, the ones that gave the vast majority of benefits to the wealthiest 1 percenters.

That’s fat cats like U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican who bought himself a $1 million yacht on the very day he voted to approve the tax cuts for the rich. And like U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who swore he’d never vote for a tax bill that added “one penny to the deficit,” then voted for this tax bill that added $1.5 trillion to the deficit after lawmakers added a special provision at the last minute to specifically benefit Corker, a provision immortalized by the title: Corker Kickback. The Center for American Progress estimates Corker got himself a tax cut of between $125,383 to $706,383 as a result. Buchanan’s tax reduction—between $371,752 and $2.1 million.

Last December, as Republicans in Congress passed the tax cut for the rich that they said would not balloon the federal deficit—but which did, in fact, balloon the federal deficit—they announced their project for 2018 would be to deflate the massive federal deficit. Confused? Don’t worry, “What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Orrin Hatch all raised the deficit by voting with their fellow Republicans for the tax scam while at the same time saying they’d really like to cut the deficit by raiding Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. That’s right. Tax breaks for the rich; heartbreak for the rest. No Magic Unicorn Money for the old, poor or sick.

But don’t say that out loud. Up is down. Would is wouldn’t.

Leo W. Gerard is president of the United Steelworkers union. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @USWBlogger.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}