2017-12-06 / Editorial

OUR DONORS REQUIRE IT

Michael N. Searles

The people shout “Kill the Bill, Kill the Bill; don’t kill us!” Yet, the Republican response has been “We must kill you for the donors require it.”

The people matter less and less in a democracy where money is free speech. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission flooded millions of dollars into the election process. The strict Constitutionalist Supreme Court Justices came to the conclusion that money was free speech and corporate funding in elections could be unlimited. Conservative justices like the recently appointed Neil McGill Gorsuch have weakened democracy by making money more important than people. This is the reason that protests, letters, phone calls, and demonstrations have not stopped the Republican Congress from passing what has been called “the worse tax bill ever.”

A number of studies clearly indicate that the Senate Republican tax bill offers some of its biggest rewards to wealthy Americans. The GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cut taxes for wealthy Americans, while raising taxes on those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper. The Tax Policy Center found that everyone outside the top 5 percent of income earners would see a significantly smaller tax cut in both the short term and the long term. The Republican Tax bill has passed in the Senate and is heading to the Conference Committee. There seems to be a silent plea coming from Congress, “We really don’t want to kill you and we know you need services, but unless we provide “tax relief” for those who pay for our elections, we are doomed. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina reportedly said “financial contributions will stop” if tax reform fails. New York Rep. Chris Collins told reporters that his donors were “basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”

The tax bill that will increase the deficit by more than $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion dollars) seemingly does not bother “Deficit Hawks” Republicans. It appears that the Deficit Hawks may have been Chicken Hawks all along. Since the Citizens United decision, Republicans no longer fear the voters as much as the donors and returning home with zero legislative accomplishments. Apparently, it is better to return to their districts with a “song and dance” than nothing at all. A tragic consequence of the tax bill will be its long term negative impact on the very people who voted Republicans into office. David Dayen of the Nation magazine described the tax bill this way, “It’s painstakingly designed to punish people making under $75,000 a year and those who happen to live in states that didn’t vote for Donald Trump. It benefits wealthy investors and wealthy people who incorporate; basically being wealthy or being a member of the Trump family is the prerequisite. CEOs (“the most excited group out there,” according to the bill’s architect, Gary Cohn) have given away the game in earnings calls by admitting that the corporate tax cuts, easily the largest chunk of the bill, would flow out to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks, rather than used to create jobs or raise wages. The bill is a gift to capital owners at workers’ expense.” Taking from the poor and giving to the rich while not new is particularly grievous in this economy. There was a time when our voices mattered and an elected official feared the reactions of voters. Now, we are only bystanders and afterthoughts. However, history tells us that change only occurs when the people refuse to accept their conditions, and stand up to those who would undermine democracy. Those in control hope we will forget what has been done to us and that we will return to wishing everyone “Merry Christmas” and reciting the catchwords “Make America Great Again.” We do not need catchwords; we need and must demand responsive, responsible, and representative government of the people, by the people and for the people.

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