Democratic members of Congress and progressive organizations have been absolutely unified in their battle to stop Republicans from passing a massive tax cut for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations – and pay for those cuts by raising taxes on the middle class, and slashing spending for Medicare, Medicaid and education. We must stop this bill for the good of the country.
But for Democratic political consultants, there is a silver lining in the terrible votes that most GOP members of Congress will cast over the next two weeks. Those consultants have already begun to write the TV spots that will, quite accurately, accuse their Republican opponents of voting to cut Medicare in order to give tax cuts to the rich.
They can’t wait to ask the voters in higher tax GOP districts how they felt when their representative voted to eliminate their federal tax deduction for state and local taxes – thereby raising their income tax bill by hundreds or thousands of dollars.
They will ask voters to consider what they think about a congressman or congresswoman who thinks that wealthy Republican party donors are more important than the ordinary middle-class voters they are elected to serve.
They will remind Republican-leaning independent voters that politicians like their member of Congress ― who rail against deficits and then vote to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars ― are lying hypocrites.
Those consultants would love to to ask the voters if they support a candidate who votes to raise their insurance premiums by double digits and take health care away from 13 million Americans so the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires can inherit millions more dollars as their reward for winning the birth lottery.
In an economy where most ordinary people haven’t had a raise in 30 years, people do not take kindly to the notion that young people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and may not have put in an honest day’s work in their lives, deserve more wealth and privilege at the expense of people who scrub floors and check them out at the grocery store. And they will not take kindly to the politicians who sacrifice their interests to benefit the privileged few.
Yep, Democratic political consultants can “smell the meat ’a cook’n.”
The other night I spoke to a senior Republican member of Congress and reminded him how toxic a vote for the tax bill would be to many of their swing members. He didn’t disagree. In fact, he said that in his view it was likely that Democrats would sweep many of their members out of Congress in 2018 and take control of the chamber no matter what. He said he believes that is likely to happen with or without the tax bill – so in their view they should swing for the fences while they still have the bat.
That, on the other hand, will not be the view of the individual members of Congress who will be sacrificed as the suicide bombers of the tax cut jihad being orchestrated by the Republican party’s plutocratic donors.
Before they vote, individual Republican members need to remember that the plutocratic donor generals who are sending them into battle are, themselves, far behind the lines. Since many have already written off their chances of maintaining control of the House next year, they want to grab a huge tax cut while the grabbing is good. If a bunch of Republican Congress people have to be sacrificed as cannon fodder, they could care less.
They simply don’t care about the individual political careers of lowly members of Congress. They don’t mind at all commanding them to advance in the face of the withering fire from the weapons that they themselves have handed Democrats: first their votes to take away people’s health care and now by their vote to increase their taxes.
Sixty-four Republicans represent districts in 11 of the fifteen highest tax states. These include districts in New York, California, New Jersey, Maine, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio – and surprisingly, West Virginia and Arkansas.
Forty of these members are among the 91 seats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee believes are in play in 2018. Remember that Democrats need just 24 seats to take back the House.
It is also worth noting that there are 71 seats that lean more Democratic than the seat Democrat John Ossoff came within a couple of points of winning in suburban Atlanta in a special election earlier this year.
And these Congress people need to remember that many of the victims of this tax bill are the Trump supporters they are counting on to push them over the top in close races. The bill will raise taxes on 87 million families making less than $200,000 and trigger automatic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that disproportionately benefit Trump voters.
At its most basic level, this bill represents a transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to the super-rich and big corporations. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, by 2027 people making from $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined total of $5.3 billion more in taxes. But those making $1 million or more would get a cut of $5.8 billion.
Before they vote, each of those House Members better ask themselves if putting more money into the already bulging pockets of the super rich is really worth their Congressional careers.
And members of the Senate need to do gut checks as well.
Will Senator Jeff Flake stand by his opposition to raising taxes on the middle class, and giving new financial advantages to big corporations over their small business competitors?
Does Senator Bob Corker really believe that we shouldn’t increase deficits? Or will he fall for a new “revenue trigger” gimmick that is designed to never take effect.
Will Senator Ron Johnson go along with the big donor class, or will he stand by his view that the GOP tax bill gives all the benefits to big multi-national corporations and precious little to small business people?
Will Senator McCain continue to stand up for what he believes is best for the future of the Country or will he fold under pressure?
Will Senator Ron Paul violate his pledge never to vote to raise taxes on the middle class?
How will Senator Capito of West Virginia explain that many of her constituents have higher tax bills for 2018?
In their home states Senators Murkowski and Collins were celebrated as heroines when they stood by their convictions and helped kill the bill to completely repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Now, will Senator Murkowski abandon those convictions, allow 13 million people to loose their health care and cause people’s premiums to increase by double digits?
And how will Senator Susan Collins feel when she returns home to find that her tax vote has cost her the respect of hundreds of thousands of Mainers who now believe that she has betrayed their trust in exchange for the favor of wealthy Wall Street Bankers.
And let’s remember that none of these Members of Congress will have a story to tell about all of the new investment and jobs that have resulted from the GOP tax plan.
In fact, Bloomberg news reported that corporate executives have no plans whatsoever to pass along tax increases in the form of higher wages or by creating new jobs. Major companies like Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Coca-Cola Co. say they’ll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders. A third of these, by the way, are foreigners.
For the sake of the country and of their constituents its time for these members of the House and Senate to make the decision to vote NO on the Republican tax bill.
Many Democratic political consultants have another message: “Go ahead, make my day.”
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.