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What the Republican Tax Bill Portends for the Future

2017 December 2
by Ian Welsh

I haven’t written about this before because I don’t have a great deal to say that hasn’t been said by other people. The bill is an obvious cash grab by various private interests which will cause great hardship.

The idea that it will “pay for itself” is ludicrous, and no one with a shred of intellectual integrity believes it.

It is six trillion in tax cuts, with 4.5 trillion in tax raises, including not taxing private education, but taxing public education.

A lot of Americans will suffer greatly as a result and a smaller number will do very well.

There will be an attempt to gut Medicare and Social Security next year, and it will be argued as necessary on budgetary grounds, after decades of deliberate acts like this tax bill, which hurt the budget. (And is basically bullshit even on budget grounds, but that’s a different article.)

As for the corporate tax cut from 35 percent to 20 percent, well, the 35 percent was paid by very few large companies–if any, but the last thing the US needs is corporate tax cuts: Corporations are sitting on vast quantities of cash, and they are not investing it. They should be taxed punitively on any non-reinvested profits, and that money should be spent by the government, if corporations don’t. This is common sense stuff.

Taxing overseas profits at a lower rate than domestic profits is a special sort of insanity.

None of this is likely to stand.

A lot of people in the US will suffer because of this. Some will die. All of it will most likely be repealed within eight years, because, as with the Tories in Britain completely destroying the economy for ordinary people, this will lead to a huge backlash.

It will stand only if “centrists” succeed in making sure that genuine left-wing principles are locked out of the Democratic party, as Blairites tried to do with Labour, only barely failing.

However, a genuine left-wing candidate on the Democratic ticket, with policies similar to Corbyn’s, will win in a landslide, because the youngs will vote for them in massive majorities (and, as Corbyn showed, the rule “young people don’t vote” isn’t true when someone champions their causes).

By 2024 at the latest, there will be enough of a generational shift, and enough people hurt badly enough and unable to pretend that the status quo ante was every good, that the Left, if not prevented by internal party politics, will win.

And they will win with a fairly radical agenda.

There are alternative scenarios, of course, nothing is 100 percent. But the feared fascism is unlikely to stick in the US, because the youngs aren’t onside with it (unlike the youngs in Eastern Europe). The people who want fascism in the US are mostly old and getting older (and dying).

Every time fascists come out for a march, Antifa outnumber them vastly.

What is more likely, if the possibility of a large shift to the left is stifled, is cyberpunk dystopia (sadly, so far, minus the cyberwear). Surveillance police state, vast slums abandoned by corporations and governments, corporate syndicalist towns and enclaves (already happening, as tech companies start building housing for their employees), and so on.

Those are the two most likely scenarios for the US. Those who think they can go back to the (illusory) Clintonian prosperity are deluded. The present marches into the future, and the neoliberal era is dying. The question is not if it will be replaced, but by what.

Choose your sides.

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104 Responses
  1. Willy permalink
    December 6, 2017

    Unfortunately, the “con” is endemic, even definitional in hierarchically-organized representative governmental systems. The question is not that there is a “con”, the question is what are you going to do about it?

    I think what he’s saying, is that regardless of the philosophical basis of a given government, it’ll always be the same old assholes running things at the end of the day. Progressives need to learn power game rules and how to play and/or subvert them.

  2. Peter permalink
    December 6, 2017

    Poor Hugh may have to wear the dunce cap, he already failed the ME map test and now is failing Yemeni history. The Saudis have fought the Zadis and they have allied with them and aided them. Ansar Allah has only existed since 1990 and don’t represent all Zadis, in fact some Zadis think the Houthis are closet Twelvers not good Zadi Fivers. They did model themselves on Hezbollah and do fly the Iranian battle flag. Saleh who was a Zadi ended up fighting the Houthis who killed him.

    Your quip about Iran as a Summi country would probably get you hung from a crane cable there for blasphemy.

  3. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 6, 2017

    How’s the view from Mandos’ azz, ks?

  4. Hugh permalink
    December 6, 2017

    Summi, seriously?

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