Open letter to those in Congress with the last vestiges of respect:
I write, prior to a call, to simply ask each of you as one of the leading GOP senators to use your vote on the current tax bill coming to the Senate floor to vote no on both process and content.
First, the process by which these bills are being hurried/rammed through the House and Senate simply makes a mockery of the U.S. Constitution and our democratic process of deliberation and compromise, especially for legislation that impacts so many. Second, I also understand, but despair of, the primary motivation for your action which seems to be to accomplish something before the end of the year or for a president who is rapidly becoming the millstone around your neck. The TV drama “Madam Secretary” had a wonderful line on Sunday night: “The motivation to just do something in the face of a crisis means that no one really knows what to do.”
And third, the compulsion to include all kinds of major issues, such as repealing the individual mandate for health insurance, means this is no longer a bill about tax reform. It has been made into another health-care bill, with profound implications for those who receive Medicaid and, now, Medicare, if and most likely when the budget deficit gets too large. (And by congressional Republicans’ own admission, this tax bill will increase the national debt by some $1.5 trillion, if not more.)
I am quite sympathetic about the need for tax reform, both for corporations and individuals. This could have been a bill about corporate tax reform, lowering the official rate that no one pays anyway but trying to make American companies more competitive (as well as bringing some of their major profits home… their competitive edge does not seem too hampered at the moment). But that’s not all it has become. It has also become a bill where the major long-term tax cuts are for people like me, those more well to do, and not for those making under $100,000 a year.
As New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman said the other morning, you can’t even say the lower and middle-class cuts will be made permanent by a future Congress while counting on their very expiration to make sure the deficit doesn’t increase past the imposed limits. The bill should have been written so that the lower and middle-class tax cuts are permanent — not the cuts of those who can afford to pay both for their taxes and their health care.
I am quite conservative when it comes to fiscal affairs. The Bush tax cuts should have never happened, for we were on our way to cutting the debt. They should have definitely been rescinded when we went to war, but both Democrats and Republicans refuse to ask our nation to sacrifice for the sake of our commitments except for the men and women in uniform. We should be raising taxes to match what we spend, and then some. And that means people like me should be paying more, and progressively more so the higher up the ladder you go. Given the needs of the country, and the need for a sense of shared sacrifice, it is immoral and irresponsible to do otherwise.
But if the current GOP bills go through without major alterations, Congress will be making our illusions laws, e.g. the illusions that the poor do not work hard, that our success does not depend on multiple others, that the rich are somehow entitled to more, that giving more to the well-to-do will lead to more investment and trickle-down economy-boosting, that elected officials represent all of the people and that the major cuts to come in the form of lost health care, Medicaid and Medicare will not have much of an impact.
And, finally, it will confirm our worst fears that money not only talks, it buys votes, and takes away the last appearances of rational, responsible and courageous action by those who are supposed to be the leaders of a country where freedom of opportunity and justice for all reigns. All men, and women, will no longer be created equal, if they ever have been. E pluribus, everyone for themselves.