Once again, Senate Republicans are proving that it is they, and not President Trump, who should wear the crown of most incompetent in American politics. In the biggest change to the American tax code since the 1980s, Republicans moved to slash corporate tax rates and proceed with chipping away at Obamacare after their drastic failure to pass repeal this summer. Yet incredibly, the status of the bill, and its effect on the American economy, is not the most shocking part of this legislative victory. It is the manner in which it was passed.
Let’s make one thing clear. The bill itself is a total sham. It marks the biggest tax break given to America’s largest corporations since the 1980s, paid for in effect by the repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare; this could see up to 13 million Americans lose health insurance by 2027. Moreover, it overwhelmingly benefits Americas top 1%: according to the Tax Policy Center, the bill could see them have gained up to $32,510 by its tenth year of implementation. This, at the same time as graduate student exemptions being slashed from the tax code, seeing many of the brightest minds in the country getting a tax raise of up to $11,000, is utterly ludicrous. Finally, the same senators who feared a spiralling deficit and ‘debt crisis’ during the Obama years, and consistently rejected tax reform on these grounds, abandoned their deficit hawkery and embraced a plan that could see up to a trillion dollars added to national debt. This hypocrisy is outstanding.
The fact that the bill would add significantly to the deficit and national debt was a seemingly obvious economic insight, highlighted by nearly every major news network in the run-up to the vote. Yet it was not until independent Senate analysis, revealed by the New York Times late on Thursday, making exactly this point that any attempt to change this took place.
The central objective of the bill may have remained the same, but billions of dollars were shifted in less than 24 hours. Usual procedure would see such changes go through extensive internal and independent analysis. Obamacare took months to pass for exactly this reason, unintended consequences are rife in legislative overhaul, yet Republicans pushed through with the vote before this could even take place. Even now, the true effect of such last-minute changes remains to be seen.
This is not how extensive tax reform should take place: it is legislative madness with political motivation. When John McCain symbolically struck down the Senate’s attempted repeal of Obamacare, shock waves were sent through the Republican Party. How did a party with control of both chambers of Congress and the White House fail so stunningly to repeal legislation they had vehemently opposed since day one. They needed this major legislative victory, for the sake of their donors and for the legitimacy of President Trump’s ongoing claim that he is the person to ‘get things done’. It is clear now that Republicans cared not about the consequences of this bill but only that it made it through the Senate; the dealings made late on Thursday show that as much as anything.