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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Only Democrats would claim cutting taxes for everyone is a dumb idea

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
” -- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

The Republican Party made history on Wednesday, passing a tax reform package that includes big cuts in rates across the board for businesses and individuals as well as doubling the standard deduction for the middle-class and adding a big boost in the child tax credit that will no doubt result in a huge improvement in Trump and tax cutsthe amount and manner Americans pay their taxes.

Republicans were able to do all this despite an 11th hour change (literally) to the title of the bill.

Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reported, “Senate rules forced Republicans to drop the name of their tax bill Tuesday evening because it is too short, leaving lawmakers to adopt a new name that will be long and unwieldy.

“The bill was called ‘The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.’ But because the short name ran afoul of the arcane rules applying to Senate procedure, a Democratic aide said, the bill will no longer have a catchy name.

“Instead, it will be: ‘To provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.’”

As Shakespeare prophesied so many centuries ago, what’s in a name? Nobody’s going to want to use the “official” bill name from this point on so here’s betting the media and the public will still call it something like the “Trump tax cuts” or something basic. The Democrats won’t even go that far, labeling the Republican triumph as “Trump’s sellout to the rich” or something similar.

Lawler additionally reported Trump himself wanted to call it the “Cut Cut Cut” act. Everyone knows the hopelessly misnamed “Affordable Care Act” almost instantly became known as “Obamacare.” The public gets it. Time will tell what “name” will be attached to this significant piece of legislation.

By passing a big bill – and having Trump touting the party’s success -- Republicans finally put perceptible distance between themselves and the minority party, seeing as not a single Democrat in either chamber voted to cut the country’s taxes. Democrats’ justification for withholding any kind of support for altering the tax code centered on their typical fallback faux arguments of “tax cuts only benefit the wealthy” and “big corporations will profit at the expense of average workers.”

Blah, blah, blah…we’ve heard it all before. You can’t blame Democrats for being Democrats – in fact, they deserve acclaim for sticking to their guns and voting their “principles” despite the fact the Republican plan is virtually guaranteed to ramp up economic growth – at least in the short term. The corporate rate alone was reduced by 40 percent, bringing it in line with the rest of the world’s major economies and below the developed nation average.

Democrats have the current polls on their side (something like only a quarter of the country supported the GOP plan) but when people begin seeing the tangible benefits from tax cuts many are bound to change their minds. The American people in recent times have never paid much attention to the potential downside to tax rate reductions -- increased federal deficits -- so there’s no reason to believe they’re going to start worrying about it now.

It shouldn’t be forgotten the American Revolution got started over a tax dispute. Free peoples resist excessive taxation without representation – and by any objective measure that’s exactly what’s happening today. A good many of the taxes we pay are practically invisible to the uninformed person – payroll taxes, gas taxes, property taxes, utility taxes, excise taxes, capital gains taxes and even sales taxes – if folks only realized how much of their hard-earned money is skimmed right off the top to feed the government leviathan they wouldn’t be so averse to the Republican congressional majorities giving them a bit of a break.

Speaker Paul Ryan took to the op-ed page in the Wall Street Journal to argue the case, “The bottom line is that this bill will help you earn more and keep more of what you earn. But that is not all. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act achieves a historic trifecta of conservative policy goals. In addition to tax reform, the bill eliminates the ObamaCare individual mandate penalty, the linchpin of the health-care law, which forces people either to buy insurance or pay a tax. And for the first time, we will open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy exploration and development, so we can harness these natural resources.

“After years of stagnation and division, we are firmly and finally choosing the path of growth. These ideas will pave the way for an economic renaissance, as Americans once again feel confident in their future, and the country’s too. Economic growth will not solve all our problems, but it will make our problems much easier to solve.”

Needless to say conservatives of all stripes have been justifiably critical of Ryan for a wide variety of reasons but at least for this week he deserves some credit (this could change rapidly if the Speaker sells out on a federal budget extension and blows an even bigger hole in the deficit by continuing to fund Obama’s priorities long after he left office).

The same goes (to some extent) for Mitch McConnell who didn’t lose a single vote in the final passage of the tax legislation (Republicans had only 51 votes because the critically ill John McCain was unable to attend the session).

A good argument could be advanced that Ryan and McConnell even did something politically courageous by moving the tax bill despite a whirlwind of apparent public antipathy to it. Either the Republicans are doing an incredibly poor job of selling the concept of tax cuts or the media’s narrative of “benefits only the wealthy” has taken hold with the unenlightened half of the voting population.

Either way, the new tax law starts out facing a skeptical public.

Janet Hook of the Wall Street Journal reported, “The Republican tax-cut bill has grown more unpopular in the two months it has taken to usher it through Congress, and few people believe it will provide relief for middle-class families, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

“The poll also found that the GOP has lost its advantage on issues it has recently dominated. Americans now express more confidence in Democrats than Republicans to handle taxes, the economy and President Donald Trump’s signature goal of changing how Washington works.”

People think Democrats are the party of change? Are they serious?

Hook further reported that overall, 41% of Americans in the survey indicated the tax plan was a bad idea, up from 35% in October. These people also purportedly believe the country is worse off now under Trump than it was before…astonishing.

How do we account for such attitudes? How is it Americans can acknowledge the economy is getting better and still fail to recognize policies under the current administration are responsible (to some degree) for the boost? Can people simply not add when it comes to tax liability? Do they not understand what a standard deduction does? Do they not realize that the child credit will guarantee that they’ll pay less in taxes (than they would have otherwise) one way or another?

I seem to recall in high school economics class we learned the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit. If people are suggesting their taxes will go up despite a higher credit, they just don’t comprehend what’s going on. How can the GOP be blamed for uninformed public opinions when there are over four in ten people against the plan from the outset?

Herein lies the major hurdle conservatives face when trying to pitch the notion of limited government, lower spending and less intrusive regulations on the economy, media and most aspects of our daily life. Heck, the recent outrage over the should-be non-controversial ending of “net neutrality” regulations just demonstrates, once again, that citizens are simply echoing what they hear from the media and don’t have a clue on what they’re talking about.

If the idiots on “Morning Joe” and CNN say something’s bad for you then their word looks to be good enough for a fairly wide swath of the public.

Such contradictory poll numbers can only mean one thing – the public’s general mindset towards Trump and the GOP controls their responses whenever they’re asked to supply an opinion about a political issue. If a Democrat loved pizza and a Republican offered to buy him a slice he’d instantly dislike the idea because a member of the opposite party made the gesture.

Spurred on by a hostile media that doesn’t bother fact checking before it reports on the tax (or any other) subject, people react to anything the GOP proposes. The Republican Party has a real problem here – they can’t win with this group of pessimistic doubters no matter what they do. The anti-Trump/anti-GOP folks are not persuadable politically so straight party-line votes will be the norm from now on.

Where were the so-called “moderate” Democrat senators (Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly) when it came time to vote…? None of them were “moderate” enough to want to cut taxes? That tells you something right there.

No amount of “education” is going to turn the opinion tide, either, because the “anti” group doesn’t care a lick about the facts and is willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to get what they want – which is ultimately more Democrats in office. It’s impossible to have political debate in this environment because there’s no objective measure by which a lot of people assess something as innocuous as tax rates.

And we can’t count on Democrats to tell the truth, either. Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Democrats are purposefully ignoring the actual tax cuts in the bill, and is relying on estimates about what will happen a decade from now, never mind that Washington is particularly bad at seeing 10 years down the road. This, Democrats say without explanation or blushing, is why the bill will raise taxes on ‘86 million middle-class families.’

“Democrats are also dodging another scrap of useful information: One way to kill this small average tax increase is to make some or all of the individual tax cuts permanent, something on which Republicans would be happy to cooperate.”

Aside from the obvious misinformation Democrats are relaying, why would anyone get upset about cutting tax rates? Has the partisan hate grown such deep roots in America that if one group is perceived to benefit more from a proposed new law than another the whole idea goes up in smoke?

No matter the name, tax cuts are helpful to “real” people out there. Democrats and the media will continue to slam Republicans regardless of what they do; if this tax episode hasn’t taught the GOP they’re engaged in a political fight to the death I’m not sure what it would take to convince them.

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