Republicans Are Betting on Tax Cuts to Save Them

Take a look at some of the quotes Sean Sullivan collected at a two-day midtown Manhattan summit of the Koch brothers’ donor network, GOP patrons, senators and strategists.

“Hugely nervous,” said Chris Wright, an oil and gas executive from Colorado, describing the tone of the conversations he and other donors were having about tax reform. Wright, like most attendees, argued that passing a tax bill would give the party a much-needed boost.

And if they fail?

“I think the Republicans will pay a heavy price in the midterm elections,” he said.

Art Pope, a major conservative donor from North Carolina, put it this way: “When you have lack of success, that may depress voter turnout for Republicans, that may depress donations for Republicans and conservatives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) warned that Republicans could face a “Watergate-level blowout” in the midterm elections if they don’t make major legislative strides on taxes and health care, invoking the political scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency and set back the GOP considerably in subsequent elections.

“If tax reform crashes and burns, if [on] Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath,” said Cruz, who spoke in a moderated discussion…

In a panel discussion focused on tax reform, Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) warned of dire political consequences if the endeavor is not successful.

“Failure is a starting process, in my opinion, to losing the House, which will manifest in 2018 if we don’t get this done,” Scott said. “And frankly, I think it destabilizes the Senate, we lose the Senate as well.”

It’s not surprising that the Koch brothers and GOP patrons would forecast doom and gloom if the Republicans fail to reduce their taxes. But they’re also assuming that failure to pass this legislation will depress voter turnout for Republicans in the 2018 midterms. Based on polling about the tax framework that has been released, that assumption would be hard to prove.

There is one level on which these folks might be right. Yet another failure by Trump and congressional Republicans to get something (anything) done would be depressing for their base. But it is interesting to watch them hang their hat so completely on an issue that the majority of Americans correctly assess will primarily benefit the so-called “elite.”

That is why we are about to get deluged with a whole series of lies about how tax cuts affect the economy. Paul Krugman recently dissected ten of them. But as we’ve seen so often over the last year, the Trump administration is taking traditional Republican lies and ratcheting them up several notches. They now claim that giving corporations a huge tax cut will put $4,000 in the pockets of working Americans. I’ll let Ali Velshi take that one on in his own inimitable way.

What you have is the former president of Goldman Sachs (Gary Cohn) speaking on behalf of a president who is a billionaire real estate mogul attempting to tell the American people that giving corporations a huge tax cut will put money in their pockets. The mind boggles.

As Greg Sargent points out, it gets even more absurd.

Here is the story line we are being asked to believe. Former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon is promoting primary challengers against Senate GOP incumbents, arguing that the GOP establishment has diverted from the “populist economic nationalist” agenda that powered Trump’s victory. Republicans lament that this constitutes a serious threat to both the GOP and Trump — and now they’re saying that passing the tax cuts is the only way to ward off that threat.

But is Steve Bannon denouncing this huge tax cut giveaway to corporate elites as part of his so-called “populist economic nationalist” agenda? Not for a minute. Over the weekend he was touting it at the Values Voter Summit as a sign that the president was moving in the right direction.

We are about to witness the biggest scam that has ever been attempted in modern U.S. politics. It’s bigger than Reagan’s voodoo economics because we all got to see what a sham it was in the 80s, only to watch it be repeated in the early aughts as a precursor to the Great Recession. Now, all those tea partiers who were livid over the bailouts are the ones Republicans are attempting to sell on the idea that corporations will be their benefactors by trickling those tax cuts down into the pockets of their workers. At least that’s their game plan. As of right now, Republicans are broadcasting it as their only hope for the 2018 midterms.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.