In 1981, after a commanding electoral victory, President Ronald Reagan immediately began working with Congressional Republicans and Democrats on getting the tax cut plan he campaigned on pushed through in his first year in office. It took a few months of wrangling and a few concessions on certain budgetary issues, but by July 1981, just over 6 months into his first term, the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981 was ready. The House passed the ERTA on July 29th by a vote of 323 yeas to 107 naes. The Senate passed it two days later with a clear voice vote.
Just 4 years later, in 1985, after more budget concessions and compromises on his first tax cut plan in 1981, Reagan went to Congress on the heels of a landslide victory. Again, he worked with Congressional Republicans and Democrats to hammer out a new tax cut that would be his economic legacy, and, again, Congress delivered with the Tax Reform Act (TRA) of 1985. The House passed TRA in December of 1985, with a simple voice vote. It took the Senate another few months of hand holding and arm twisting to pass a similar bill in June 1986 (97 yeas to 3 naes).
Both of Reagan’s signature tax cut bills enjoyed significant bipartisan support, not because he brow beat Democratic Congressmen and showered insults on his critics and the media. Reagan wooed Democrats in the House and Senate with calm, patient, and persistent logic and reason. This was made all the more easy, because Reagan had also won over Americans with his positive, optimistic, and rationally argued tax philosophy. This was no small feat, either. Let’s not forget that his chief Republican rival in 1980, George H. W. Bush, referred to Reagan’s tax vision as “voodoo economics“. Democratic hold outs called his supply side economic theories “Trickle Down economics“.
Nevertheless, Ronald Reagan’s economic and tax policies won the day, and started the single longest period of sustained economic growth in the history of the United States.
“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”
Today, the chance of getting a tax reform bill pushed through seems to be one of the few positive developments for the current besieged White House. Though cultish GOP supporters are quick to draw connections between this tax bill and Ronald Reagan’s, there are two crucial differences that cannot go without mention. First, the tax bill has absolutely no support from the Democrats in either the House or the Senate, thus has a very good chance of backfiring completely. Second, the tax bill simply isn’t what Americans either need or should be looking for.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed the House of Representatives on November 16th with exactly 0 Democratic votes, and the Senate passed their version of the bill on December 2nd with exactly 0 Democratic votes. Presuming this bill eventually makes it to Trump’s desk, the corporatist Republicans own whatever comes of it. If everything goes exactly as promised, wealthy businesses and corporations will expand operations domestically and repatriate production facilities to the US. If, however, the same thing happens as the Brownback plan in Kansas, the Republicans fiscal brand is over, and American manufacturers currently have little incentive to pay 5-20 times as much in labor costs through repatriation.
To the second point, the tax plans presented by the House and the Senate are two very different bills with significant elements that will have to be hammered out in the reconciliation process. What the finished bill will actually look like, assuming it survives the reconciliation, is actually a very big unknown. The chances of getting to what the president promised it would be are pretty slim, but even if it does some how end up exactly where the GOP promised, it is simply a continuation of the same progressive socialist dogma that has plagued America’s economy for the last 100 years.
“What at first was plunder, assumed the softer name of revenue; and the power originally usurped, they affected to inherit.”
The question Americans should be asking isn’t “How much should the wealthy be taxed?“, but should be “If government demonstrably fails to solve the problems that government is supposed to be solving, why are we forced to pay taxes for essentially nothing?“. That’s the great swindle that’s been committed on the American people since the beginning of the Progressive Era at end of the 19th Century. The great problems of inequality, of racism, of economic instability have not been solved by government, and, in many cases, have been caused by or, at the very least, perpetuated by government power.
The erosion of American manufacturing and textile industries have both occurred in the age of “government solutions“. The intractable problems generational minority poverty and economic disenfranchisement have continued and, in some parts of the country, grown far worse in the age of “government solutions“. The situation on our border, the problems with our aging infrastructure, and our debt situation have all deteriorated in this age of “government solutions“. What indeed are we paying for?
Historically, taxation has always been the method by which those in political power have enriched themselves at the expense of their countrymen, so that those in power ride around in limousines and private jets while those not in power pay for those limousines and private jets. It’s time to face that, as far as this historical truth, nothing has changed. The forced confiscation of wealth by political force has not solved any problems that could not have been solved, for a fraction of the cost, at the local level, and it’s time Americans woke up to this foundational truth.
The Republican tax plan is simply a continuation of the same political hegemony, creating tax serfs for the benefit of a politically influential establishment. Both the GOP and the DNC fundamentally disagree with the ideas of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson on the role and nature of government. Wake up, Americans. You’ve lost your country!
Liberty is For The Win!