The no good, awful, horrible, Republican tax bill

Nice post from Dylan Matthews outlining what incredibly bad policy this is– even if you were actually trying to meet conservative policy goals:

I don’t know what’s in the hearts of Orrin Hatch or Kevin Brady or Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. I don’t like to assume malign motives of politicians, even ones I vehemently disagree with. But the details of this tax bill are less consistent with an honest desire to achieve certain principled changes to the tax code — to make it simpler, or more pro-investment, or more tilted at taxing consumption rather than income — than with a desire to get the tax deal done fast, a desire to help important constituencies, and a desire to thumb the eyes of perceived ideological enemies. [emphasis mine]

That explains why, rather than paying for corporate cuts by offsetting an appropriate number of corporate tax breaks, the Senate wants to cut Medicaid and Obamacare. It sticks it to programs that are important to Democrats, furthers the GOP’s long-running interest in undermining Obamacare, and avoids making hard decisions about corporate benefits that might delay passage.

It explains a variety of anti-university provisions inserted into the bill. If you care about lowering tax rates on savings and investment, you do not insert a random excise tax on the earnings of big university endowments. But if you care about sticking it to coastal elite universities that are full of liberals, that provision makes sense. So does treating tuition waivers for PhD students as taxable income. This will hurt the economy dramatically in the long run by undermining human capital developments and creating a less educated workforce. It might even cost lives by impeding biomedical research. But it’s a good way to own the libs.

Republicans had years to put together this tax bill. They had the whole Obama administration, even the last two years of the Bush administration when they were in the minority. They could’ve done better. They had the tools and resources to do better. Other politicians and policy analysts had come up with ideas to help them do better.

That they didn’t do better is a massive failure.

Sexual assault and proportionality

I was trying to think about why I was so uneasy about the whole Al Franken thing and trying to figure out if it was just because he’s a liberal I really like.  But, no, that’s not it.  It’s that, yes, of course, sexual assault and harassment in all it’s forms is wrong, but not all sexual assault is created equal and we sure should not be pretending like it is.  As usual, Drum captured my thoughts pretty well:

There are two problems here. The first is that too many liberals feel that they have to respond in a maximal way to every possible incident of sexual harassment, partly to maintain their own woke credibility and partly because they want to make sure conservatives can’t accuse them of hypocrisy. The second problem is that we don’t seem to have any good way of talking proportionately about this stuff.

All I mean is this: Not all offenses are the same. Shoplifting is not as bad as grand theft. Assault is not as bad as murder. Saying this doesn’t imply approval of either shoplifting or assault; it’s merely a statement of uncontroversial fact. Likewise, not all sexual abuse is equal. Harvey Weinstein’s rap sheet includes dozens of accusations of groping, forced massages, and possibly rape. Louis C.K. masturbated in front of actresses multiple times. Roy Moore routinely chased after high school girls when he was in his 30s and appears to have aggressively assaulted at least two of them…

It’s no whitewash to say that this is a considerably lesser offense. But if the only response we have to any kind of sexual abuse is to insist on resignation from office and expulsion from public life—mostly to protect our own reputations—we are not acting with any sense of proportionality.

Yep.  I wasn’t sure I was going to get around to this post, but after a conversation with my wife this morning, I do feel like that’s what’s missing from the conversation is a sense of proportionality.  Yes, we should condemn all sexual assault and sexual harassment, but we should most definitely not pretend it’s all the same and all deserves a maximally punitive response.

Now, the reality is that our society has been pretty awful on this for… forever.  Part of the correction may be (probably will be) the pendulum swinging too far the other direction some times.  Alas, I do think that’s a necessary cost of finally seriously grappling with this problem.  That said, no reason we can’t actually try and make the pendulum land where it should.

The Montgomery Burns party

You would be inclined to think that Republican Party was just being cruelly caricatured by Democrats if they did not so thoroughly embrace every worst stereotype of them just looking out for the richest Americans.  It really is kind of amazing.  EJ Dionne:

The GOP bill that should be called the Cut Taxes on President Trump and Other Very Rich People Act of 2017 always had a secondary purpose: to jack up the deficit so Republicans could later cry out in horror, “Look at that awful debt!” They would then use the pools of red ink they created to justify deep cuts in social programs.

But people who call themselves conservative are shoveling out so much money so fast to corporations and the privileged that they needed some health-care cuts upfront — at the expense of coverage for millions of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

And so on Tuesday, the Senate majority took an appalling bill and made it even more atrocious. To their ungainly concoction of tax breaks for the various interests that support them, they added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

The GOP bill that should be called the Cut Taxes on President Trump and Other Very Rich People Act of 2017 always had a secondary purpose: to jack up the deficit so Republicans could later cry out in horror, “Look at that awful debt!” They would then use the pools of red ink they created to justify deep cuts in social programs.

But people who call themselves conservative are shoveling out so much money so fast to corporations and the privileged that they needed some health-care cuts upfront — at the expense of coverage for millions of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

And so on Tuesday, the Senate majority took an appalling bill and made it even more atrocious. To their ungainly concoction of tax breaks for the various interests that support them, they added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Forget about rhetoric.  When it comes to putting the priorities into legislation the Republicans are crystal clear what they are about.  Tax cuts for rich people.  Period.

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