Historian: This Tax Bill is Straight Out of 1929

But it goes back even further than Silent Cal Coolidge.  As historian Robert McElvaine notes the subject of trickle down economics was the point of William Jennings Bryan’s 1986 “Cross of Gold” speech.

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

I find studying American history to be strangely comforting because the same impediments to better government and economic and racial justice keep getting raised by the enemies of democracy.  Now that might sound depressing because, well, we keep fighting the same impediments to better government and economic and racial justice.  But the fact that the malefactors of great wealth are so persistent with bad ideas that never work does make them very predictable.  And while we seem to be taking two steps back right now, that’s because for many years we took many steps forward.

In short, despite the absolute blithering nonsense the modern GOP is trying to push on the American people as “improvements”, the pendulum always swings the other way and real progress is made.

During the 1920s, Republicans almost literally worshiped business. “The business of America,” Coolidge proclaimed, “is business.” Coolidge also remarked that, “The man who builds a factory builds a temple,” and “the man who works there worships there.” That faith in the Market as God has been the Republican religion ever since. A few months after he became president in 1981, Ronald Reagan praised Coolidge for cutting “taxes four times” and said “we had probably the greatest growth in prosperity that we’ve ever known.” Reagan said nothing about what happened to “Coolidge Prosperity” a few months after he left office.

In the aftermath of Reagan the country wasn’t awake enough to even wish for another FDR.  In the rubble of George W. Bush, some people finally hoped aloud for the emergence of an FDR.  Now, with the full attack on our democracy being perpetuated by the full force of the Republican party a massive movement of angry and aware voters are ready to be activated.  Virginia was a sample.

If we do indeed crawl back into a recession, or a depression, there will be national wave  that will resemble the 1932 wave.  For a more recent example, it will resemble the absolute marginalization of the Republican party that has taken place in California.

The craziest thing is, as Matt Yglesias notes in Vox, the worst consequences of the current bill could be averted by just cutting the corporate tax rate to 25% rather than 20%.  They just don’t know what they’re doing.

Do GOP Senators Talk to Each Other or are We Just Rubes?

They all come around, although they do have to delude themselves sometimes in order to do so.  But if they couldn’t delude themselves they wouldn’t be Republicans so… see Marco Rubio

But Susan Collins says she’s received assurances from Mitch McConnell that no cuts to Medicare will happen or she wouldn’t vote for the bill.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters at a breakfast Thursday morning that she secured “a personal commitment” from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that Congress would avoid deep automatic cuts to Medicare and other federal programs that would be triggered by the costly tax bill up for a vote this week.

How McConnell can give assurances on that is a good question since it would take a 60 vote margin in the Senate to waive PAYGO rules that would trigger those cuts.  This is a game of chicken with Medicare, that people, even Trumpsters, do not like.

After sounding like she was on board, Collins went on to list a few more requirements she has for her vote.  She says she has a bunch of amendments she wants that have to be in there.

“It would be very problematic for me if the SALT deduction is not in the bill,” she said. “It’s extremely important to me. It would be very difficult for me to support the bill if I do not prevail.”

But the way this bill is being jammed through the meat grinder without hearings and with promises being made that may not be able to be kept, Collins may just have to vote on faith.

Of course if Collins is the only GOP no on the bill, then it doesn’t matter and she can go ahead and just safely vote no to protect herself and the bill can pass with 51.

It’s all a Trumpian disaster.

The Laugh Track – One of Those 1950s Things That Made it an Awful Time

Having a great time reading “The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy” by Kliph Nesteroff.

He notes something absolutely stunning about the sad and sick development of the laugh track, first in radio and then in television and its ubiquity in broadcasting because it comforted executives that didn’t know what was funny and projected that audiences wouldn’t either.

Nesteroff says that the laugh track was almost adopted in movies as well.  Unthinkable huh?  Imagine the great movie comedies of the 50s and 60s with laugh tracks.  Better yet, don’t.

The film Cat Ballou, a 1965 comic western with Lee Marvin and Jane Fonda actually created a version of the film with an added laugh track.  They sent it to a handful of  drive-in theaters (remember them?) to see if that would fly.  Thankfully it didn’t.

That was almost as disturbing as anything I’ve read about our government, war, finance or any of those lesser issues of our time.

God I hate laugh tracks.

For extra credit:  the first sit-com on network TV to not use a laugh track in the modern era was a 1973 show called “Adam’s Rib” with Ken Howard and Blythe Danner based on the Hepburn/Tracy movie.  It was cancelled after one season.  It was ballsy and sadly didn’t take at that time. Many great shows in that early 70s era like “All in the Family” and “Mary Tyler Moore” were shot in front a live audience and “sweetened” with laugh tracks.  It wasn’t until around 2000 that shows trusted the audience enough to do one camera shoots with no laugh track.  See “Malcolm in the Middle”, “30 Rock” et al.

 

There’s a Reason They’re Republicans

And they always come around to protect their party’s phony baloney jobs.

They benefit from the fawning mainstream media that always loves to normalize conservative thinking (even Nazis), even if they themselves understand it’s wrong.  Media has bent over backwards for decades to be nice to conservatives because of the rabid “anti-liberal media” backlash they would get if they didn’t.  But really, as we all know, that weird, misspelled anger will come anyway.  No matter how many glowing pieces about conservatives the NYT runs they will be the enemy.  No matter how much the WaPo tries to be fair to GOPers, they are hated and demonized.

The Trump/Moore/Bannon era gave these efforts to push noble Republicans forward a new mission and energy.  So many figures on the TV that were so wrong during the Bush years are trotted out to pile on Trump/Moore/Bannon.  They make nice noises now but I never forget that Jennifer Rubin and David Frum are not good people.

And for elected politicians it’s just a festival of love for any Republican who has said even one word of denunciation of Trump.  Corker, Flake, Collins, Murkowski, McCain et al. are looked at as the saviors of democracy, even though they’ve done almost nothing to actually stand in the way of Trump’s idiocracy.  All you have to do is one thumbs down and you’re a hero.  But they all come around.

They all prove over and over again why they self-identify as Republicans in 2017 even after the decades where they too watched the steep decline of that party, their echo chamber in the media and their oligopolistic donors, into the party of Trump/Moore/Bannon.  Silence, or even the occasional whisper, is acceptance.

The thought that “certainly Susan Collins can’t go along with this” is almost always proven naive.

As I mentioned yesterday in regards to Lindsay Graham, the main reason that Republicans of all stripes are pushing a terrible tax bill forward is because they’ve been given an ultimatum by their donors that if they don’t get this done they’ll find other candidates in 2018 and beyond.  This is the definition of being beholden to the handful of massively powerful billionaires that have been the major funding sources of Republican/conservative causes for a long time now.  Most people know them by name now, if you pay attention to news media, despite their efforts to remain in the shadows or anonymous.

Koch Brothers
Robert Mercer
Sheldon Adelson
Ricketts Family
Foster Friess
Paul Singer
Ken Langone
Woody Johnson
Peter Thiel

Between them and a coterie of lesser billionaires that contribute to fund numerous super pacs, GOP politicians are almost entirely dependent on that source of money.  Your Aunt Millie who sends $10 to a politician or a cause because they heard about them on Rush Limbaugh is such an afterthought in Republican circles, completely overshadowed by the ready cash these whales have to blow at a moments notice.

So yeah, if Susan Collins wants to continue a career in politics she too has to come around on a tax bill that will negate her much ballyhooed bravery on the ACA.

Even John McCain, who is looking at eternity and legacy rather than another campaign, is likely to go along, in order to not have his soul eternally damned where it matters for him – at the RNC.

None of these supposed moderate or rational Republicans will move a meaningful finger to stop Roy Moore from taking a seat in the senate or go against their party when it matters.  Tax cuts for the donors and their estates matter more than any other issue in Republican ideological circles.  It’s everything to them.

They’ll go down with the ship and allow the country to emulate Kansas before they’ll jeopardize their sweet, sweet billionaire donor honeypot.

Another Rich White Guy Loses His Job

Pretty dramatic stuff when you tune into a show you watch every weekday morning (not me, but many people) and one of the anchors there for decades isn’t there anymore, just like that.  His co-workers sadly announce that he’s gone – not dead, not sick –  fired!  Because he did something, we’re not sure what.

Starting to be a little like the blacklist era, no?

We believe the anti-Communists.

Lindsay Graham on Tax Bill: I think it’s a delicious mint julep, but if it turns out to be a poop cocktail then just vote us out

On MSNBC just now Graham essentially said that he thinks “the loud people” saying the tax bill will hurt the middle class and poors and bust the budget are wrong.  But if they’re right then “we’ll be voted out and we should be.”

What he didn’t say is that if he’s wrong and the rich really are the beneficiaries of this outrage, as the CBO and every independent tax organization says, then Graham and pals will have such massive war chests from their gratefully even more wealthy donors that they’ll be able to buy endless bullshit ads convincing the public that they did get a tax cut and roses too.  It’ll be downright un-American to vote against the great leaders that voted for this bill.