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Taxes, medical care and insular leadership of the GOP



When Ronald Reagan passed his historic tax court in 1981, he won the support of 25 Democrats in the Senate and 113 in the House.

When George W. Bush approved his radical fiscal cut in 2001, he won the support of 12 Democrats in the Senate and 28 in the House.

But when President Trump and Republican leaders exercised their respective tax reduction plans in Congress this fall, not a single Democrat in either house voted yes. That exclusion occurred despite the fact that 12 House Democrats represent the districts that Trump led last year, and the Democrats in 2018 are defending 10 Senate seats in the states that the president won.

Many factors contributed to the change. On all issues, it has become less common for legislators to vote through party lines than in Reagan, and even Bush, was. And Trump has less influence over Democratic lawmakers than his predecessors because he has a much lower job approval rating than any of them, especially among Democratic voters.

But there is a more direct reason why not a single Democrat supported the legislation: The Republican Party not only completely excluded the Democrats from the process of drafting the bills, but also punished the Democratic voters, from the residents of the states with high taxes to graduate students, in the essence of the bills. The tax plans represent a closed political circle: bills drafted only by Republicans and approved only by Republican votes that show their greatest benefits over the Republican constituencies. Meanwhile, the biggest losers in the plans are the voters of the Democrats who opposed them universally. It is not just redistribution: taxes are also based on retribution.

In that way, the tax debate offers the clearest measure of how powerfully the Republican Party in the Trump era is folding inward. Neither Trump nor the Republican leaders of Congress even pretend to represent the whole country or consider prospects beyond those of their central coalition. Instead, the party has shown that as long as it can maintain internal unity in its direction, it will ignore the objections of virtually any external source, not only Democrats, but also independent experts, affected interest groups and traditional allies abroad. .

a bestseller published during the Reagan years, the neoconservative cultural critic Allan Bloom lamented The closing of the American mind . The Trump era is crystallizing the closure of the republican mentality.

In several different forms, the party now governs exclusively from, by and for Red America. Key among them:

Distorting the legislative process : In the tax and especially in the recent health bills, the Congress of the Republican Party short-circuited the legislative process to minimize the contribution of the public. The leadership negotiated all key decisions behind closed doors. That reduced the public debate and finally forced the legislators to vote in massive (and sometimes handwritten) packages with little time to consider the consequences or mobilize the opposition. More importantly, negotiations took place only among Republicans, denying significant contributions to Democrats or skeptical groups.

Congress has been becoming more partisan for a long time, but this still represents a quantum leap in exclusion. Former President Barack Obama made significant changes to his stimulus plan in 2009 to win the support of three Republican senators. It also allowed the Senate Finance Committee to delay consideration of the Affordable Care Act for more than three months to conduct protracted negotiations with Republicans. (No Republican finally endorsed the ACA on the court, but that did not erase the effort.)

Punishing Democratic Bastions : Tax bills, as I've pointed out before, are not unusual in benefit Republican Party. But they are unusual in consciously punishing so many Democratic trend groups, especially in the House Bill. Among others, these groups include families in blue states with high taxes, who would be harmed by the restrictions in the deduction of state and local taxes; homeowners in large metropolitan areas, mostly Democrats, who would face limits on mortgage deductions; and students, who would face higher taxes on university debt or graduated tuition exemptions.

This instinct of confrontation extends beyond taxes. Violating the conservatives' usual fondness for federalism, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a law that would force all states to recognize a concealed weapons permit granted in any state. The administration is trying to withhold federal grants to pressure so-called "sanctuary cities" that limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities. And Trump is trying to undercut blue-state regulatory rules by allowing interstate sale of health insurance.

Reject the independent information : From top to bottom, the party routinely discards the objective information that it considers inconvenient. Examples range from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, blithely discarding the variety of independent analysis of their tax plans, which show that they would massively increase the federal deficit and benefit mainly to the rich; to Trump's rejection of climate science; Almost three-quarters of Alabama Republicans say they do not believe detailed allegations of sexual misconduct and child sexual abuse against Senate candidate Roy Moore. Similarly, in the repeal of ACA, the GOP ignored unified warnings, unprecedented, of all the pillars of the medical community, from doctors to patients and insurers, that their plan would degrade care. Trump has taken this to the extreme, labeling as "false news" any fact he finds threatening and limiting his television interviews almost exclusively to Fox News.

Disregarding international allies: The widespread international condemnation of Trump's decision to relocate the US embassy. UU in Israel, it deepens the isolation of the traditional allies that are already evident in their movements against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the NAFTA trade agreements, the Iranian nuclear agreement and the Paris climate agreement. Only a handful of Republicans in Congress have questioned any of these breaks with the world.

In all these ways, the Republican Party of the Trump era has become impervious to virtually any opinion that resists its own internal consensus. The mid-term elections next November will begin to respond if the party has drawn that closed circle too closely to maintain its lead in Washington.


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