Trump’s presidency will be saved and our safety net gutted if the Trump tax breaks become law
You know who understands how crucial the Trump plan to cut taxes for the rich is? The stars of Trading Places and heroes of everyone who doesn’t want there to be a middle class in America — the Koch brothers.
“It’s the most significant federal effort we’ve ever taken on,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-aligned group with offices in 36 states. “The stakes for the Republicans, I’ve never seen them this high.”
Many in the Koch network, a vast group of libertarian-leaning nonprofits and advocacy and political organizations, described the upcoming legislative push for a tax overhaul as an inflection point in modern political history, a do-or-die moment that would define whether their efforts over the years will pay off or not. The network leaders plan to dedicate much of their two-year $400 million politics and policy budget to the effort — though they wouldn’t give an exact number.
Why do the Kochs love Trump’s tax scam? Let us count the ways:
1. It could mean as much as $10 billion more dollars in their family’s pockets.
If Trump and his family would get up to $1 billion in spoils from these cuts designed to enrich “the wealthy donor class,” you could assume that the Kochs — who are together worth almost $100 billion, 10 times the imaginary number Trump has assigned to his largely imaginary wealth — stand to rake in up to $10 billion themselves.
2. It validates their going all in on Trump.
The media downplays Kochs involvement in the 2016 elections because of their personal disfavor toward Trump. But the brothers’ political network spent hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the Senate. Their efforts helped sway key elections in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina — all states their candidates won by larger margins than Trump, possibly helping pull the GOP nominee over the finish line.
3. It pays them and their allies back for decades of investing in GOP politics.
Obviously. The reason that billionaires love the GOP is that it’s an amazing investment. We know that the brothers have spent millions personally and through their business on politics. This is when the billions in returns come home to roost. This isn’t just another win; it’s a validation for a lifetime of striving. And these tax breaks are so skewed to paying off the donors that made it possible that even the Trump Administration can’t hide that.
4. GOP majorities depend on this win.
“If tax reform crashes and burns, we could face a bloodbath,” said Senator Ted Cruz told a recent Gathering of the Kochs. “We have the potential of seeing a Watergate-like blowout.” This isn’t because voters want these tax breaks for their overlords, which are less popular than Trump, the GOP and possibly even Harvey Weinstein. It’s because their donors do. A limited GOP donor strike is now in effect. Without a major cash infusion and no Obama or Hillary to run against, the GOP is petty sure that the least popular new president in polling history is the kind of drag that could cost them even the most gerrymandered majority.
5. This isn’t just about paying off the rich; it’s about destroying Medicaid and Medicare.
I’m not just referring to the Senate 2018 budget resolution that paves the way for cuts of $470 billion in Medicare cuts on top of $1 trillion of cuts to Medicaid. We know what happens when we cut taxes for the rich at a time when the rich have rarely been richer — the economy languishes and everything else needs to be cut to pay for the tax breaks. That’s what happened in Kansas, where schools needed to be closed early so rich guys could afford extra private jet flights. Gratuitous tax cuts to the wealthy explode the deficit. How can they not when they have almost no stimulative effect? This seems like the fatal flaw in trickle-down economics, except the goal of trickle-down economics has become destroying anything the government does that people appreciate. After the Reagan tax breaks exposed the deficit-exploding reality of giveaways for the rich, the “Starve the Beast” theory came along to argue — according to Bruce Bartlett, one of the architects of the Reagan breaks — “spending will only be cut when tax cuts increase the deficit so much that there is no alternative.”
How do you destroy the most popular things the government does? You leave America with no choice.
We cannot underestimate how badly Trump and the GOP need this win nor the lies they will deploy to blind voters’ to the consequences of one of the largest if not the largest wealth to the richest in American history.
Trump has bumbled his way into a defining battle of a half century of conservative politics at a moment when his fate depends on the complicity of a GOP congress, who in turn depend on the tit-for-tat generosity of rich donors, who are demanding their tat now. If he gives those donors what they want, his presidency will be secured from any internal dissension and the programs tens of millions rely on to keep them alive will be doomed.
To find out more about the Trump tax scam and what you can do to defeat it, listen to our interviews with the Invisible Team’s Chad Bolt and former Chief Tax Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee Lily Batchelder.
[Photo by Gage Skidmore| Flickr]