Posts Tagged ‘2017 tax bill’

The art of the possible

December 12, 2017

Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best — Otto von Bismarck

Some things are going to happen this month that you have a chance of influencing. Some things are going to happen this month that you have no chance of influencing. And some things are not going to happen, no matter what you want.

Case in point, impeachment. That’s the only way to get rid of a sitting President, and it’s not going to happen. Presidents don’t get impeached for criminal actions. Presidents get impeached for political actions that arouse the legislature. The only way that Trump can be impeached is if both the House and the Senate agree that he should be, and as long as the GOP has a majority, that won’t happen. Even Al Jazeera can see that. Flynn may go down, Kushner may go down, the entire White House staff might end up in jail, but Trump will still be President. If someone cries Impeach!, move on to a different story.

Case in point, Presidential and Agency Executive Orders. You and I can’t influence those, as anyone who has followed the derisory responses of the FCC to public comments on Net Neutrality can tell you. It’s not that FCC doesn’t understand the Internet, it’s that the FCC doesn’t care, and anything they say is designed to keep you spun up over it.

You can do nothing about it, but the courts can. Net Neutrality, Bear’s Ears, otherly-gendered folk in the military. The only institution who can push back against these decisions are the courts, and then only if a suitably rich and motivated group, with standing, can goad them into it. And even then, we might still lose, because of the way the courts are being politicized, all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Case in point. Legislative action. Ah, now we have a hook. Politicians hate taking a risk, and every time they vote against their constituent’s wishes, it’s a risk. Unfortunately, most GOP legislators are in safe, deep red, districts, and don’t care, in the same way most of the voters in those districts don’t care. The voters want conservative representation, and the only question is, is he conservative enough? When that happens, their constituents are no longer the local voters. Their true “constituents” are actually industry lobbyists.

Breaking it down, are you living in a red district in a red state? Then you have no influence. Are you living in a blue district in a red state? No influence. Are you living in a blue state? No influence, other than baseline, ineffectual opposition. This is why a horribly unpopular tax bill can get passed.

I say no influence, but you do have the ability to push for small, but perhaps significant, changes. The thing is, you can’t oppose something (like the tax law) in general and across the board. Well, you can, but do it in the privacy of your own home, where it will do you more good. What you can do is pick a niche topic of interest to your local politician and concentrate on that. For example, if there’s a college in your district, you could point out to him what the new tax bill will do to higher education. Or complain about the lack of action on CHIP funding. At a minimum, you might fix some small detail. Ideally (from a Democratic viewpoint), you can help create a legislative roadblock that might (for example) derail a bad tax bill.

So, pick your battles. Be willing to accept small victories. Go for the possible.

The GOP leadership is mousetrapping its members

November 27, 2017

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the feeling that something was missing in the discussion of the GOP tax bill. Today, I figured out what it was — no-one is pointing out the effort by the GOP leadership to mousetrap their own membership.

Everyone is talking about the tactics they are using to get the bill through against Democratic opposition. No-one is talking about the fight against their own people.

The tax bill faces an uphill fight in the House and Senate over the next month, because nobody but the leadership likes it. Some GOP Senators dislike it enough to vote against it, an act the leadership says will have disastrous consequences come election time. If that’s the case, why is it that the bill wasn’t crafted with more care? Why didn’t the GOP leadership create something everyone could get behind?

Because they didn’t have to.

GOP members have been told that they must pass a tax bill this term, or all their funding will dry up. Must. OK, so far so good, I believe you. Now what?

Now, says the leadership, here’s a stinking crock of manure that we are calling a tax bill. It’s the only one available. You vote for this, or you doom the Party. No choice.

Left unsaid: We could have gone with a bill that did less damage and garnered more support, but rewarded our funding sources less. But that would have made our donors unhappy. Instead, we are going with a bill that we know you have to pass. We could have a section in there on kittens and wood-chippers, and you would still have to pass it, otherwise we lose power, and power is everything.

This is similar to the majority party loading up a must-pass bill (say, Defense Budget) with all kinds of pork, add-ons and inclusions, knowing that the minority is boxed in and has to go along with it, because it’s a must pass.

Only, this time they are boxing in their own members. I think this is a place where the word contempt might legitimately be used.