Springfield. That’s the city. And it’s true that Donald Trump will be there next week. Wednesday to be exact.
Trump’s gonna talk about his tax plan. Except that he doesn’t have a tax plan.
According to Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn, the Trumpies have a “great, I would say, skeleton. We need the Ways and Means Committee to put some muscle and skin on the skeleton and drive tax reform forward.” Which means that Trump and his not-such-wunderkinds are going to let congress – the same congress he’s been busy bad-mouthing – fill in the details and “solve the big questions that remain unanswered.”
Just like Trump’s recipe for “wonderful” healthcare. Remember the bang-up job congress and Trump did with that one?
So, if there’s no real plan, what exactly will Trump be selling when he comes to Springfield? Obviously, as the White House has said, there will be no specifics. Instead, according to an unnamed administration official, he’ll “advocate broad themes of middle-class tax cuts, simplifying the tax code and making businesses more competitive in a way that encourages job creation.”
In other words, he’s coming to Missouri to sell us a pig in a poke – and trying to persuade us, sight-unseen that, just like his healthcare plan, it’s the best ever. Certainly the best Pavlovian buzz-words ever.
We can only hope that there are at least a few Missourians who are on to this game by now.
We’ve heard Trump’s faux populist palaver about cutting middle-class taxes for a long time. It’s faux populism because it’s not really true.
The broad-stroke proposals released during the election campaign last year along with the similar outlines that were shared in April and July of this year, very emphatically were not designed to benefit the middle class – although they offered Trump’s homies, that is, the very wealthy, a super-sweet deal. Buzz is that this latest stinker’s just more of the same – and that the wealthy and super-wealthy will do just fine, as usual, on the backs of the middle class.
The devil, of course, is in the details, and the fact that we have no details – even though these bozos have had seven months to fill in the blanks – suggests a very unpleasant product is in the offing although the perpetrators of the proposed reform will be doing all that they can do to disguise its shortcomings. The fact that Paul Ryan will have a hand in crafting the details is not reassuring. We’ve seen his budget proposals in the past and they are not, to put it mildly, friendly to the less than wealthy.
Anne Kim at The Washington Monthly argues that, while there is plenty of room for real tax reform, given the inability of the White House to provide serious direction when it comes to the hard decisions – and I would add, because of the ideological bent of the GOP-dominated Congress – we’ll probably get nothing more than tax cuts with the potential to do lasting harm:
Given all this, it’s highly doubtful that anything the GOP Congress puts forward this fall will truly count as “reform.” Rather, the likeliest scenario is a modest—or not so modest—set of corporate tax cuts aimed at placating the president and his base and, of course, squeezing vulnerable swing-state Democrats into making difficult pre-election choices. As Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway signaled as early as January, Trump would be just as happy with tax “relief” as he would be with “reform.”
A tax cut package disguised as reform could do serious damage—such as by blowing a mile-high hole in the federal deficit while aggravating the blatant inequities of the current system. More significantly, it would be an enormous missed opportunity for genuine discussion about the kinds of reforms that could grow the economy and make it fairer for working-class Americans.
(A word to the wise: Keep in mind the part about “squeezing vulnerable swing-state Democrats into making difficult pre-election choices” when you hear Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill try to make nice with tax-cutting Trump.)
It has been suggested that Trump is coming to Missouri rather than to Kansas because Kansas has been reduced to near financial ruin through the implementation of the type of tax cuts he wants to see enacted on the national level. And although Missouri is now experiencing the consequences of similar, if not as extreme, ideologically motivated tax-cuts, there are plenty of true-believers here intent on not learning the lesson of Kansas – and plenty of self-interested money-men – e.g., billionaire Rex Sinquefield and his ilk – who encourage their wilful blindness with plentiful dollops of campaign cash.
Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how Trump’s sales spiel will be received by Missourians other than the hard-core, ever- salivating base. John Danforth, the Dean of traditional Missouri Republican circles, recently attempted to exorcise Trump from the GOP body politic when he declared in a WaPo op-ed that the GOP “cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party.” I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that Danforth will have to sit on a similar limb all by himself.
It already looks like lots of Missouri GOP good ol’ boy and gal pols will be more than willing to let The Donald redefine the party any old way he wants to as long as they get the tax “reform” for which their financial supporters have been clamoring. The question is, though, how will the rest of us welcome Trump and his bloviations to Missouri? Are Missourians still as susceptible to the empty blandishments of the conman-in-chief as they were in fall 2016?