WASHINGTON – The prosperous Republicans who in past years flocked to fundraisers on Buffalo’s Middlesex Road and Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Lancaster are looking at a drastically changed Republican Party today. President Trump has totally flipped it in the last 11 months.
The GOP’s traditional concern for a balanced budget and keeping the national debt under control is like ashes in the mouth. In little more than a week the GOP Congress decided to add at least $1.5 trillion to the current $20 trillion national debt. There’s no recession. We are not paying for a war. We are not bailing out banks.
There’s no financial crisis, except at the average American kitchen table, when the moment comes to pay back college loans, the mortgage, extraordinary health costs, winter fuel bills. Nearly of all of it goes to pay American and international owners of big corporations.
Some will get a small tax cut, but this will be quickly sucked up by states like New York whose revenues are under attack by this new snatch and grab federal Republican tax law.
“A big beautiful Christmas present,” Trump says of this new law. For him? We can’t find out. It was hurled together, and amended literally in the dark of night.
There were no hearings on the legislation, and no member of Congress had a chance to read the bill before it passed, just the lobbyists who assembled the legislation.
How was it going to be paid for? Why, through market growth, a shameless parade of GOP senators claimed in the debate. They picked up the shattered crutch of “trickle down” or “supply side” economics that was found rotted in the political gutter of the early 1980s.
In the debate, they claimed President Ronald Reagan embraced trickle down theories and put them into the tax code in 1982. If indeed he saw any merit in any of this voodoo, the next year Reagan threw out supply side bag and baggage, at the behest of his vice president, George H.W. Bush, then Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and wiser heads in the House, such as the late Rep. Barber Conable, R-Geneseo.
You see, Reagan, Dole, Bush, and Conable had the burden of conscience. You couldn’t mortgage the whole country and future generations on a trickle down bet. This generation – more pointedly this Congress – was not saddled with paying off the bills that Reagan and the bipartisan Congresses might have borrowed for no earthly cause except greed. What’s going to happen if we are faced with a real war, or a cratering economy?
But the absence of conscience is what distinguishes today’s president from these earlier Republicans. After President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the GOP had some claim on Washington’s moral high ground. President Barack Obama’s exemplary personal behavior undercut that, but a Republican advantage was still there.
But Trump’s own personal history and his endorsement of Judge Roy O. Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Alabama, changed the Republicans’ reputation, perhaps forever.
Trump first tweeted his support, then endorsed Moore in a stopover in nearly Florida. Then the Republican National Committee endorsed Moore. Can you imagine Reagan or Dole endorsing such a man?
Trump and the RNC crossed a red line. Probably the red line is gone anyway, thanks to him and the party he, Fox News and hate radio manipulate like a rag doll. So what’s the difference if he undermines confidence in our intelligence agencies, the free press and now, the FBI?
Politically, we are left with a sickening cross between the late 19th century robber barons and the Italian Medicis of the late Middle Ages. So we are left with the possibility of a Great Correction, a sweeping Democratic victory next November. We’ll deal with that next time.