Email #329: “end of us as a party”?

According to an October Gallup survey, 84% of Americans think “the most important problem facing America today” is non-economic, and dissatisfaction with poor government leadership tops the list at 20%. Of the 17% who think the most important problem is economic, unemployment and the state of the economy in general each hit 5%, and the national debt 4%.

Only 2% named taxes.

And yet you and other Republicans in Congress have made taxes your number one issue. I understand that, despite the distraction of the special counsel indictments on Monday and the death of eight people in a terrorist attack in New York yesterday, Congressional leaders are releasing their full tax bill today.

My main confusion is how tax cuts became so much more important to you than the national debt. Despite decades of criticizing Democrats for deficit spending, both House and Senate Republicans voted for a budget blueprint that would raise the national debt by $1.5 trillion. It passed by only two votes in the Senate and four in the House. Only twenty House Republicans and one Republican Senator opposed the resolution, including the conservative House Liberty Caucus. Rep. Gaetz said members were “asked to vote for a budget that nobody believes in so that we have the chance to vote for a tax bill that nobody’s read.” Centrist budget hawk Rep. Jenkins agreed: “We should be passing a budget that reforms mandatory spending and balances over time.”

Why were you not one these principled critics? You have spent a quarter century advocating for debt reduction and balanced budgets, but when the defining issue of your career conflicted with tax cuts, you went with tax cuts.

The deficit grew by $666 billion in 2017. That’s $80 billion more than in 2016. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the national debt will rise $10 trillion over the next ten years. That’s based on current projections, but if the tax cuts are passed, the projections are significantly worse. The CBO recommended two actions: cut spending and increase revenues. Instead the budget blueprint decreases revenue by $1.5 trillion and only makes suggestions for spending cuts—ones that will be nearly impossible to enact afterwards. Do you believe Americans will accept cutting $470 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid?

And yet you voted for the resolution, ignoring the following argument:

“It is a simple concept — you can’t spend more than you take in.  Business owners, individuals and families all across this country understand this concept and live by it in their own lives.  They should expect nothing less from the federal government and yet Congress continues to prove it cannot make the tough decisions on its own.  We must rein in the skyrocketing deficit spending that is discouraging investment and threatening to bankrupt our nation.”

You wrote that. The paragraph appears on the “Fiscal Responsibility” page, which still also refers to President Obama as though he were still in office, continuing evidence that you no longer care about balancing the budged and reducing the debt.

You of course are not alone in embracing the GOP’s new policy of fiscal irresponsibility. Rep. Black, chair of the House Budget Committee, criticized the budget blueprint when it was still in the Senate, tweeting: “What part of ‘cut spending’ does @SenateGOP not understand?” And yet she, like you, still voted for it in the House last Friday.

Senator Graham endorsed it out of fear of angry voters: “This is the last, best chance we will have to cut taxes. That will be the end of us as a party, because if you’re a Republican and you don’t want to simplify the tax code and cut taxes, what good are you to anybody?”

But only 2% of voters are calling for tax cuts, while 20% want better leadership from their government, making the GOP tax plan a double failure. Will you continue to support it?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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