GOP’s next goal: Shred the social safety net


(CNN)The Republican tax bill and its aftermath prove two things about our politics today. First, no matter how much they might insist otherwise, Republicans consistently prioritize the economic advantage and security of big business and the very wealthy at the expense of middle- and low-income Americans. And, second, no matter how much he might insist otherwise, Donald Trump is in perfect lockstep with the core of the Republican economic agenda.

And now, it’s about to get worse. Reports are that Republicans will use the giant deficits created by their corporate giveaways to justify cuts to Social Security and Medicare — cuts that will further hurt middle class families and the poor. In other words, the Republican tax plan ostensibly increases the tax burden on middle- and low-income Americans while reducing the tax burden on corporations and the 1% — under the theory that giving more money to economic elites, while adding a projected $1 trillion to the deficit, somehow trickles down to those less fortunate.
Economists have already said the economic promises of the Republican tax plan are smoke and mirrors, but adding more cuts to the social safety net amounts to a perfect storm. Most Americans see rampant inequality and poverty in our economy as a problem. The Republican tax plan sees it as a strategy on which to double down.
    Since Trump began his campaign for the presidency, both the left and right have painted him as extreme. Progressives (myself included) have portrayed Trump as a radical departure from conventional politics, both because he lacks the experience or seriousness to do the job but also because he seems to embrace extremist ideology. Just consider his tweets last week reposting videos from Islamophobic extremists. Trump supporters, on the other hand, have portrayed their hero as anathema to the Republican establishment — Trump is “telling it like it is” and “draining the swamp.”
    Yet here we have a president who, as every indication suggests, supports a tax policy literally written by the paid Washington lobbyists who are the very muck of that swamp. And the bill advances the conventional stock-in-trade, pro-big business agenda that has and will always be the lifeblood of Republican politics.
    Trump campaigned pretending otherwise. In April 2016, Trump said he believes in raising taxes on the rich — including rich people like himself. In May 2016, Trump said on “Meet The Press,” “For the wealthy, I think, frankly, it’s going to go up. And you know what? It really should go up.” As President, he’s continued many of the same assertions, telling The Wall Street Journal in July of this year, “the truth is the people I care most about are the middle-income people in this country who have gotten screwed.”
    Now, Trump is the one screwing the middle class to give himself a tax break. And still lying about it. “This is going to cost me a fortune,” Trump told supporters in Missouri a few days ago. “This is not good for me.” That was a lie. In fact, Trump could save more than $1 billion under the Republican tax plan that he is supporting. Of course, we’d know more if Trump would finally release his taxes.

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    He also promised during the election not to cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. And reiterated those promises a few weeks ago. But the tax bill sets up Republicans to do just that, pretending they have no choice but to make deep cuts in federal spending because they drained public money with corporate giveaways.
    The truth is no matter how much his supporters try to portray him otherwise, Trump is fully supportive of the conservative fiscal agenda — cutting government supports for poor and middle-class Americans in order to fund giant giveaways to corporations and the super rich.
    And no matter what he insisted during the campaign, or his lies to the contrary since, Trump has proven himself consistently loyal to one group and one group only — his fellow big business billionaires. That’s who really won this election, and who are the winners of this tax bill. The rest of us, to borrow a phrase from Trump, are losers.

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