In a supposedly great legislative victory, the Republican-controlled Congress has rammed through a massive, and massively unpopular, tax code rewrite. The so-called “reform” saves president Trump from ending his first year in office without a major legislative achievement to brag about, and, fittingly enough for the nation’s chief kleptocrat, will overwhelmingly benefit wealthy individuals and large corporations. According to some estimates, Trump personally will receive a tax cut of around $15 million per year.
Embracing a true “trickle down” mindset, Republicans have convinced themselves that relatively small tax cuts for most taxpayers will be enough to buy broad support for what amounts to looting the federal treasury by those who least need relief. Moreover, the resulting boost to the federal deficit – “officially” estimated at close to $1.5 trillion over ten years – will, they believe, lay the groundwork for dismantling the last remnants of the American welfare state. Look for proposals to roll back “unaffordable” expenditures for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to surface early in 2018.
But here the handmaidens of the donor class miscalculate badly. Every poll reveals that the tax overhaul is already unpopular with a large majority of Americans. It won’t be hard, even without the help of CNN and MSNBC, for ordinary citizens to connect the dots between plutocratic greed and threats to highly popular benefits. While Medicaid is subject to poverty scapegoating, not so Medicare and Social Security, each of which benefit well over 50 million Americans. Democrats, still dominated by the neoliberal Clintonite party wing, have not proved particularly adept at taking advantage of Republican incompetence. But a huge pendulum swing in the 2018 midterm elections is now all but assured.