Lofty Promises And The Death Of Fiscal Conservatism [Opinion]

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Late last week, President Trump sat in an unusually restrained Oval Office, void of the pomp and circumstance we’ve grown accustomed to, and signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, as ABC News reported. The public was not treated to the glamorous ceremony traditionally expected of a fractious Republican Party that had just passed the first major piece of its legislative agenda after enjoying just under a year in power. Yet, before the ink had even dried on a bill of exceptional importance, we were treated to a smorgasbord of lofty and ultimately hollow promises.

The president hailed the newly-minted law as guaranteed to usher in a newfound era of American prosperity. He, along with Republican congressional leaders, have publicly reinforced their views that this law will provide meaningful relief for the long-suffering middle class and that it will also force a reviving breath of air into the proverbial lungs of the American worker and corporation alike.

It’s certainly a charming bit of marketing to label this incarnation of tax reform as a welcomed Christmas present for the American people, and it serves as wonderful fodder for the construction of a modern political urban legend. Better yet, it provides ample cover for the misdirection of those whose pockets are to be laid bare, whose bank accounts are to be plundered, and for the masses whose wellbeing is being sacrificed in the name of special interest gluttony.

Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Featured image credit: Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

Emissaries of the GOP have touted that the passage of their tax reform bill will generate a tsunami of job creation. However, this repugnant myth was unequivocally dispelled well before the first vote was even cast. In mid-November during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, the aforementioned publication’s editor asked the crowd of CEOs if they’d divert their impending financial surplus into capital investments in the wake of the tax reform bill’s passage. Unsurprisingly, only a few hands in the crowd went up, a paltry response which left the president’s chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, clearly baffled, as NPR reported.

Let us be very clear, and as Business Insider has astutely pointed out, several independent nonpartisan analyses have already found that this law will increase the federal budget deficit by over $1 trillion within the coming decade. And while it may well save the middle of the road American just over $900 per year before the individual tax cuts expire in 2025, firms such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, stand to save some $4.5 billion in 2018 alone, and potentially in perpetuity given the permanency of the corporate tax cuts.

Republican leadership discuss tax reform.
Featured image credit: Alex WongGetty Images

There’s no surprise here, and no amount of partisan fluff can distract from the reality that this law is nothing more than the public enshrinement of corporate sponsorship. It’s but another sad chapter in the deceptive tome of trickle-down economics.

Despite the ample posturing, we’re well aware that this law will only enlarge the cavern between the haves and have-nots. It’s clear that corporations, by definition void of patriotic sentiment and motivated exclusively by a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, will continue to bestow obscenely large bonuses upon their upper ranks, while continuing to ship blue-collar American jobs abroad. That they’ll take their tax savings and buy back stock, that the form of capital investment they’ll overwhelmingly champion is a wider embrace of automation, driving scores of Americans into the unemployment line.

The despondency-inducing truth is that we already know how this story will end. We know that the willful march of fiscal conservatives into the abyss of ideological extinction will devastate the interests of the constituents they’re charged with defending. The tragedy is that we’re already hearing the feigned crowing of supposed deficit hawks, their sights fixated on ravaging the social welfare programs that roughly one-third of Americans rely on for survival, all to balance out a decidedly-lopsided law estimated to boost economic growth by an anemic 0.06 to 0.12 percent each year for the next decade.