SHARE
COMMENTARY

With the U.S. Senate potentially voting on President Donald Trump’s tax reform package this week, debate continues over just how accurate it is for Republicans to claim the effort will reduce middle class tax burdens. If President Trump’s record on telling the truth is any indication, Americans have plenty of reason to be skeptical.

Meanwhile, the nation continues watching the Alabama special election for a U.S. Senate seat between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Jones, of course, is a liberal “disaster,” in the words of Trump.

Moore, rather, is a right-wing firebrand who has been thrown from the state’s Supreme Court and has been accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. (One woman has even accused him of sexually assaulting her.)

The timing of these two national story lines could hardly be worse for mainstream Republicans, who are left to try and thread a disgusting little needle: Roy Moore is a creep who should not join the U.S. Senate, but a chunk of the GOP base is likely to elect him anyway. So, can we now talk about our sleazy billionaire president’s tax reform package and how it’s going to help Joe The Plumber more than John The Investment Banker?

None of that is an easy sell, and slopped together in a big pot of hot water, it makes one hell of an unsettling political soup.

Tax reform pitched with three uncertain points

If you haven’t followed Congress’ handling of the tax reform bill(s), you are not alone. The House took action on its version of the measure within two weeks. But as Forbes writer Tony Nitti explains, the Senate has always been where the bill will pass or fail. As more eyes fall upon the proposal, the turd gets harder to shine.

From Nitti:

Perhaps more troubling for the Senate, however, has been the pace. A vote is not scheduled until next week at the earliest, and based on what most tax pundits have learned about the bill, time is its biggest enemy. Because with time, the many faults of the proposal become public, putting pressure on three Republican Senators to cast reform-killing “nay” votes.

What information could become known that would swing a vote? Keep in mind, the GOP has sold the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in both the House and Senate bills (you can read about the similarities and differences in the plans here — by repeating the same three assurances over and over and over:

  1. The tax cuts will “pay for themselves” by creating substantial economic growth,
  2. The primary benefits of the tax cuts are ear-marked for the middle-class, and
  3. The richest 1% will enjoy no net benefit under the GOP plan.

Two reports published yesterday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, however, revealed those promises to be of the glaringly empty variety, threatening to thwart the chances of tax reform mere feet from the goal line.

Read the rest of Nitti’s analysis here, but the growing public perception of the national Republican brand remains: This is a party long-beholden to wealthy Americans and, by the way, now it is nominating and supporting known perverts.

To be fair, Democrats have seen their fair share of sex scandals, too. Partisan websites chronicle their opponents’ atrocities, as if the topic at hand is a hockey game where one team’s goons are worse than the other’s.

That’s how America wound up debating sexual misconduct in the 2016 election — as if it were a team sport — and it’s how the nation is likely to ignore the details of tax reform over the next week in deference to a parade of perversion.

Kellyanne Conway, a “counselor” to President Trump, awkwardly tied the two topics together in a television interview last week, replying to a question of whether to vote for Roy Moore by saying:

I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through. And the media — if the media were really concerned about all of these allegations, and if that’s what this is truly about, and the Democrats — Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone half funny comedians.

If national Republicans’ best argument for sustained political power is that they need votes for a dubious tax reform measure so badly that they’ll support a complete buffoon, the GOP brand is in trouble.

Then again, #election2016 was only one year ago.

SHARE
William W. Savage III holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.