Shamelessness And The Tax Bill

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist. Like many of the pundits on the political Right–and unlike most GOP members of Congress– she is intellectually honest. (Here in Indiana, Paul Ogden falls into that category; I often disagree with his conclusions, but I have a high degree of respect for his intellectual integrity.)

Rubin doesn’t mince words about the GOP’s single legislative “accomplishment.”

Republicans will knock a giant hole in the budget with a tax cut of $1.5 trillion, most of which goes to the rich and corporations. Rather than acknowledge their hypocrisy on the debt, they choose to misrepresent the facts.

She then provides a couple of examples, one an exchange between George Stephanopolous and  Mitch McConnell, and one between Senator Susan Collins–ostensibly the Senate’s only GOP moderate–and Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. Forgive the length of this quote, but I think it is important not to summarize or characterize.

CHUCK TODD: Alright, if the debt is unsustainable at $14 trillion, how do you, how did you make yourself comfortable voting for something that’s going to increase the deficit? This tax bill we’re at 20.6 trillion now and the best estimates saying it’s going to even the best estimates of dynamic scoring that we could still find still add half a trillion dollars to the deficit.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Economic growth produces more revenue and that will help to offset this tax cut and actually lower the debt.

CHUCK TODD: Where’s the evidence? Where, explain to me. Find a, find a study that actually says what you’re claiming.


CHUCK TODD: It doesn’t exist.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Let me do that. First of all if you take the C.B.O.’s formula and apply it four to four tenths of one percent increase in the GDP generates revenues of a trillion dollars, a trillion dollars. Even the joint committee on taxation has projected that the tax bill would stimulate the economy to produce hundreds of billions of additional revenue. I’ve talked four economists, including the Dean of the Columbia School of Business and former chairs of the councils of economic advisors and they believe that it will have this impact. So I think if we can stimulate the economy, create more jobs that that does generate more revenue.

CHUCK TODD: But why isn’t there a single study? I’m going to show you three studies that we have, sort of a liberal one, a centrist one, and a conservative one right up there. The most conservative one, the most pro-economic growth argument, still adds $516 billion to the deficit over ten years.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Well, talk to economists like Glenn Hubbard and Larry Lindsey and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who used to be head of the C.B.O. And they will tell you otherwise. So I think you will find that economists just don’t agree on this.

Jennifer Rubin then did what credible reporters do; she contacted the quoted economists, who told her that they had not made the statements Collins attributed to them. Both Hubbard and Holtz-Eakin said they’d told Collins that the measures would “offset but not eliminate the static budget loss.”

After confirming that even conservative Republican economists deny that the tax cuts will come close to paying for themselves, Rubin writes

This raises the question as to whether Collins and McConnell misunderstand the advice they get, choose to cherry-pick what they are given or simply don’t want to fess up that they’ve abandoned fiscal sanity in search of a political win and to soothe donors. The most generous interpretation is that they are operating with unsupportable optimism that these cuts will do something no other tax cuts have ever done– pay for themselves.

They didn’t “misunderstand.” They’re shameless and they’re lying. As Talking Points Memo reports, economists and former government officials all predict the bill will drive up the federal deficit, shrink and destabilize the health care market, make our already historic income inequality worse, and–worst of all–give Congress cover to do what Paul Ryan and his ilk have long wanted to do:  make deep cuts to the social safety net and government programs.

I’ve said it before: I don’t know how these people sleep at night.


  1. Here is what they are saying:
    In a general sense, putting $ into pockets stimulates the GDP but with less multiplier than with Gvt spending . That adds to incomes and taxes. BUT the consumption function tells us that lower income people spend more of each dollar so the offset declines if cuts go to higher income people. The effect does not trickle down.
    There is an offset but it adds to the overall deficit and the offset is less than of the cuts went to lower income earners. I was a TA in the Econ Dept at IU. In my senior year, my professor left for SEATO work and left the class to me on an intermittent basis. They learned more than this Congress knows!

  2. They sleep at night because this who and what they are. Grifters, Oligarchs, Plutocrats.

  3. They sleep very well thanks to their teddy bear Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform, which has institutionalized the idea that government isn’t the solution – government is the problem into much of our national consciousnous and political agenda. Grover is widely quoted as saying his mission is to shrink the federal government to be small enough that he can drown it in a bathtub. This doesn’t just imply, but rather forces the complete abandon enemy of any pretense at governing. It is not simply inexplicable, or just inconsistent with modern applied economics (itself rightly under attack for its failure to predict and prevent the collapse of the world’s financial system in 2008).

    It is dystopian.

    And Grover is winning. He’s smiling ear-to-ear.

  4. Correction: The term “abandon enemy” was intended to be the single word “abandonment”. I simply MUST turn off the autocorrect feature of this otherwise handy little device!

  5. I watched that segment with Susan Collins and was shocked to hear what she was saying. I actually thought she had a conscience until then. It sure would be interesting to be a fly on the wall and be able to listen in to the conversations behind closed doors in the R offices of Congress.

  6. Just adding to the facts:
    You state, “Both Hubbard and Holtz-Eakin said they’d told Collins that the measures would “offset but not eliminate the static budget loss.”

    The static budget loss presumes there is no additional growth beyond normal. A dynamic score factors the stimulus impact into the evaluation.

    The National Review citing the Joint Committee on Taxation states, “Under the Senate’s version of the bill, the economy would grow by 0.8 percent annually, and the macroeconomic feedback revenue would range from $250 billion to $495 billion.”

    So even a reputable dynamic score gets us no where close to the $1.5 trillion cumulative deficit.

  7. Republicans not only want to expand the deficit, they NEED to expand it in order to kick in PAY-GO, which woud execute automatic cuts to Medicare and begin the realization of their dreams.

  8. I’m still waiting for those jobs and that trickle-down effect of George W’s tax cut for the wealthy. Will it finally go into effect before this new Republican tax scam is put in place. Economic support of this country – which basically means the middle and low-income citizens paying for the goods and services provided by the wealthy getting the tax cuts – has us in the GOP cross hairs. If, due to more tax increases on these citizens coupled with no increase in minimum wage or underpaid worker’s income – and that of Social Security and Social Security Disability recipients – how are we to pay for the goods and services provided by the wealthy who are getting wealthier thanks to our supporting them?

    Trump keeps bragging about, and applauding himself each time he is in front of a camera, all that he has accomplished this first year in office. His accomplishments are all on the negative side of the agenda he set for himself and the Republican party; he does appear to keeping his campaign promises/threats to undo all that was accomplished under all previous presidents of both parties but – are his supporters seeing any positive action in their economic or personal situations? Are “his” middle and low-income supporters still waiting or still unaware that they will be his victims along with the rest of the nation?

    The outcome of the Alabama Senatorial election today will tell us much about general conditions throughout the country and within the federal government. Fortunately, it is the only election so has the national spotlight trained on it for answers. It will tell us if the Republicans are beginning to lose ground, if the Democratic party has gained any ground and more importantly, the general conditions throughout the nation which is in turmoil. Moore doesn’t seem to be pushing Trump’s tax cuts yet has his full support. The fact that it is a southern state, the Senatorial seat being filled is that of White Nationalist Jeff Sessions and has Trump supporting Moore makes it frightening as well as vital. Moore’s wife felt the need to announce, for some reason, that they have a Jewish lawyer so they are not anti-Semitic, undoubtedly hoping to attract Jewish voters. Will this southern state’s penchant to support “that old time religion” by supporting an accused child molester keep the state and that Senate seat stuck in the middle of the past century? How will Trump’s new tax budget effect Alabama residents; or has that issue gotten lost in the increasing sex scandals, naming names?

  9. Of course, they’re lying. Their job is all about lying. Over 6,000 corporate and billionaire lobbyists worked on this tax bill. It’s about putting more money in the pockets of the 1%. Quite frankly, that’s been the point for decades.

    Since the Koch brothers now prop up 150 universities with economic departments and think tanks, does anyone trust an economist? Economics is theory or a belief. It belongs in a Liberal Arts program with philosophy and religion.

    One economist, I do trust, Jeffrey Sachs. He said:

    “The compromises made with the rich are consistently out of line with public opinion. The public desires to tax the rich more heavily, cut military spending, and develop renewable energy alternatives to oil. The outcome instead is tax cuts for the rich, unchecked military spending, and a continued stagnation in alternatives to oil, gas, and coal.”

    In order to sell the American people that going contrary to their will is a good thing – you have to lie to them. It’s called propaganda. The wealthy have plenty of access to propagandists. They control 85% of all media channels and will soon control the internet.

  10. These people can sleep easily at night because they lack one thing: a conscience that will keep them awake. Support Roy Moore. Cut taxes on the rich regardless of the consequences. Deny climate change. They simply do not care. And yet they continue to win elections. Even the intellectually honest conservatives are being drowned out by the likes of Fox News and Breitbart. We are so totally screwed.

  11. JoAnn,

    “Moore’s wife felt the need to announce, for some reason, that they have a Jewish lawyer so they are not anti-Semitic, undoubtedly hoping to attract Jewish voters.”

    Just the opposite. It’s setting up the Jews as the reason for this potential defeat. That’s how Steve Bannon works. You win even if you lose.

  12. Sheila,

    “I’ve said it before: I don’t know how these people sleep at night.”

    They know down deep, the way things are being set up, “they can’t lose one way or the other.”

  13. Susan Collins isn’t a fool. She has no choice other than to go along. There is no opposition. It surely isn’t the Democratic Party, The New York Times, or Southern Poverty Law Center.

    What can she do other than stay the course? I would do the same thing if I were in her shoes. I’m not an advocate of suicide.

  14. Marv,

    They only THINK they can’t lose. They will lose the next election. They will lose the country.

    And no, they don’t sleep at night. But like vampire bats, they sleep during the day and suck our blood at night. Otherwise, why would this frightful, un-American piece of crap legislation have been “approved” at 1:00 A.M.?

    Republicans being lying bastards is nothing new. But being lying bastards of television is a new twist in arrogance and nihilism.

  15. Vernon,

    “They only THINK they can’t lose. They will lose the next election. They will lose the country.”

    Hopefully, you are right. I didn’t say they weren’t FOOLS.

    For the sake of useful argument, let’s assume for a moment that “trickle down” economic policy actually trickles down. Let’s assume that some quantity of handouts to the rich can be measured as spent or invested in enterprises for which poor people work.

    Stipulating that point, we still do not know how much sustenance is in the trickle or to whose poor working people it trickles.

    Cruelly, for proponents of the policy, there is much evidence that most of the trickle–wealthy people’s spending and investment–which actually arrives in the pocket of the lower classes, arrives in the pocket of the lower classes IN CHINA, INDIA, MEXICO, VIETNAM, AND KOREA. So, when scoring devices tell us that there will be some trickle down, they do nothing to assure us that all, or any, of the trickle, whatever it may be, will trickle down in America.

    Proponents of trickle down policy must also be reminded that there are negative effects of trickle down policy that DO trickle down–abundantly–in America.

    And we all must be reminded that for the United States there is a huge difference between trickle down HAPPENING and trickle down WORKING.

  17. Interesting, while driving to the office this morning WFYI 90.1 local news reported a vast shortfall of taxes collected by the State of Indiana so far this fiscal year. The culprits are corporate entities, the very same organizations that the Republicans want to reward with excessive tax breaks.

  18. Things to consider tonight.

    “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin Press, New York, 2017):

    “[On election night] Bannon admitted to an associate that Trump might be done for. But he wasn’t despondent, nor did he seem to view the possibility of a fatal set back to the BROADER MOVEMENT. “Our back-up strategy,” he said of [Hillary] Clinton, “is to fuck her up so bad that she can’t govern. If she gets 43 percent of the vote, she can’t claim a mandate.” Psyching himself up to the task, he added, “my goal is that by November 8th, when you hear her name, you’re going to throw-up.”

    This is the type of ilk we’re having to deal with. Most importantly, don’t lose site of this.

  19. Cutting tax revenue in a complex society is the dumbest thing to do. There are countless examples of how badly that works: Kansas, Oklahoma, et. al. This gift to the rich only creates a poor country. The 1% are rich enough, but as J.D. Rockefeller once said when asked how much money was enough, he replied, “Just a little more.”

    John Maynard Keynes proved that government can work FOR the people while Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayak proved that cutting out government guarantees the few to get rich at the expense of the many and the result is a failed state. See: Chile, Bolivia, Poland, Uruguay, et. al.

    A must read for all wishing to understand how these comparisons are valid, is Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”…as well as my books. Even Marv likes my book. LOL.

  20. I can’t help but think that there’s an economic reckoning not far away. It’s about time from a business cycle perspective; the only technology revolution in sight is the switch to autonomous shared electric vehicles and that’s still a few years away; we have the least popular AND capable President and Congress ever messing with us; the Fed is keeping interest rates minuscule further fueling an overheated economy; the Wall Street regulators are sleeping with the Wall St reckless; this wealth redistributing “tax bill”; massive FEMA expenditures as predicted from willful ignore-ance of anthropogenic global warming; never ending wars in search for more. All of the elements that Cheney had in place in 2007 are back.

    When is always the question.

    If 2018 is the answer or maybe even 2019, America will be saved by a terminal cancer. The economic trauma would be massive but would be an effective cure for the country after years of recovery by putting adults back in charge.

    But what if 2020? We could end up with all of the economic trauma but no ability to choose a life saving cure. I hate to even think of that.

  21. From the above: I’ve said it before: I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

    The Answer is profound indifference. The RepubliCons could care less about their base, except when they need the Bible Thumpers, NRA and build the wall types to vote for them. The elected RepubliCons have used wedge social issues to appeal to their base, but at the same time make certain their paymasters (donors) are rewarded with the legislation they want. The fact that the paymasters (donors) legislation will do nothing to help economically their base is of no concern, the idea is to use the distraction of wedge issues. The RepubliCons have the perfect Master of Distraction in the White House.

    The fact that someone as hideous as Roy Moore could be elected in Alabama is proof the RepubliCon Ideological Wedge Issue Strategy is working.

    Neil Armstrong the first person on the moon once said, “That’s one giant leap for man kind”. The election of Roy Moore will be a giant leap back to Jim Crow.

  22. The so-called tax bill assumes economic growth in our economy as though such “growth” will spring from tax cuts and trickledown giveaways to the rich and corporate class. If trickledown economics works it will be the first time. Nobel Prize- winning economist Jospeh E. Stiglitz (a Hoosier born and raised in Gary, by the way) has written and stated categorically that trickledown has never worked in large economies, contrary to Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics insistence to the contrary. Ours is a large economy.

    Economic growth is solely dependent on aggregate demand, so it must be plain to any other than the ideological that the route to greater economic growth is through the aggregate demand route, and how do we stimulate aggregate demand? By, obviously, ending wage inequality so that workers have more withal to go to market (which, incidentally, makes more profits for the rich and corporate class in a round robin move of money known to economists as “velocity of exchange”).

    The tax bill now in conference is a sham and a fraud and will not only not do what its backers claim, it will in my opinion and if passed, add 1.5 trillion (and interest) to our debt and bring us into recession status next year or no later than the year over as its toxic effects take hold.

  23. Pardon my possible ignorance, but I truly think Susan Collins is also ignorant if not totally misinformed.

  24. Maywin @ 1:55 > Pardon my possible ignorance, but I truly think Susan Collins is also ignorant if not totally misinformed. <<

    Ignorance came be simply a lack of knowledge. Do I really need to know how to calculate the orbit of Mars and determine where it will be in relation to the earth in five years?? Probably not, unless I work for NASA on a Mars Lander project.

    The case of Susan Collins is far more egregious. It is the willful, premeditated ignorance that rejects any and all facts to the contrary. Think of it this way she has an Evangelical like belief in Trickle Down or at least this is what she must say in public. The real reason is, she is a puppet on a string controlled the 1% and her donors.

  25. Merry Christmas, SS retirees and disabled. I heard from SS today my 2 %cola for next year’s checks nets me exactly $2.20 per month less than this year because of Medicare increases-compliments of one political party or the other.

    Next year was supposed to be the year wingnuts went after entitlements with a vengeance to pay for this taxcut for the koch bros.

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