Republicans on Capitol Hill have a new sense of urgency to pass their tax plan now that the slim GOP Senate majority will get even slimmer with Democrat Doug Jones' election in Alabama. They appear to have negotiated all the main points of contention, and a deal is imminent. Even aside from the balance-tipping potential of Jones' election, the question remains: Why hurry something so important?
Tuesday's GOP defeat in Alabama should be warning enough that mainstream Americans aren't happy with the country's direction. The latest Quinnipiac poll, taken before the Alabama election, found that only 29 percent of respondents support the GOP tax plan.
Almost two-thirds believe the tax bill benefits the wealthy, and only a quarter see it as a plus for the middle class. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans can't hide the unfairness of this bill, yet they insist on barreling forward.
Part of their rationale for the rush is the concocted notion that the economy needs a boost. It doesn't. The nation effectively is at full employment. Corporations are flush with cash. The Federal Reserve is so concerned about inflation it has elected three times this year to increase interest rates, including a hike on Wednesday.
Fed governors have reason to worry that the short-term effect of a tax cut on an already healthy economy would be to overheat it, so they're deliberately moving to slow down the pace of growth. But it's the accelerated growth rate that congressional Republicans are forecasting to replenish government coffers from the tax cut. They were unlikely to reach their growth goals, anyway, particularly if the Fed stands in their way, which it will.
President Donald Trump, whose approval rating is now down to 32 percent in a new poll, is driving the rushed pace of getting this tax bill approved before Christmas. The contract that Trump presented to his supporters in 2016 is spelled out in the GOP platform. Yes, it calls for tax cuts. But the platform places a higher priority on fiscal discipline and balancing the budget.
"The federal fiscal burden threatens the security, liberty and independence of our nation," the platform warns, citing the $19 trillion national debt that existed in November 2016. Expanding government spending and benefits for "preferred groups," the platform says, "is the path to bankrupting the next generation."
This tax plan would add another $1 trillion to the debt and reward the GOP's preferred group of wealthy individuals and corporations. It directly violates the GOP's contract with its voters.
Polls show that Americans are growing more, not less, skeptical of Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is biased on the matter. But his warnings are prescient: "There will be many more Alabamas in 2018" if the GOP proceeds on this reckless path. "Many more." REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE