**A short version of this blog post is posted here.** The post was updated 11/15 to reflect Senator Johnson’s opposition.
Republicans in Congress have an obligation to their ultra-wealthy backers to pass a tax reform package that the majority of Americans do not want. While most of us recognize that tax reform is a good thing and naturally the concept of a tax cut is welcome. The political gimmick here is that this generically good concept of governance – tax reform and tax cut – is being used to push a very bad and damaging piece of proposed legislation that will a add a whopping $1.5 Trillion to the national debt. There is little economic evidence that the move accomplishes anything except to put this money into the pockets of the top 1%. The Republicans’ current strategy is to give the ‘average taxpayer’ a small tax break in exchange for public support for about $2 Trillion in tax cuts for the ultra-rich. Their strategy is not working so far despite a massive propaganda campaign. More Americans oppose the current bill than support it, according to every poll I’ve seen. The most recent and most unbiased national poll by Reuters found little support for this proposal. We know that the tax bill is bad for America and most Americans oppose it. Almost all small business trade groups oppose it. Professional groups oppose it. Unions oppose it. Nonprofit organizations oppose it. I’ve listed some of my reasons for opposition in this article titled “18 Reasons to oppose the tax reform bill“. I also recommend Robert Reich’s explanation of public opposition to this bill on YouTube. Yet opposing the bill in concept is not enough. We must take action. Understanding the political process and how we can influence it for our own financial protection is the smartest way to proceed.
The Process: The current thinking is that the legislative process will look similar to the health reform bill earlier this year. First the House of Representatives will vote on a their tax reform bill. Even though some Republican Representatives (like mine) will likely vote ‘no’, there are not enough Republicans who will risk the political backlash of opposing their party positions to defeat the bill. So tax reform will likely pass the House of Representatives easily due to the large Republican majority, just like the health care reform bill. Then the Senate will attempt to pass their version of the bill. That vote will be much closer; perhaps 49-51.
The result: After all the mark-ups, debate and media coverage is done, the fate of tax reform rests in the hands of the 52 Republican Senators. If any three of them vote their conscience instead of their party loyalty, this tax reform bill will not be passed. The current thinking is that those not running for re-election may vote their conscience and break from party lines to defeat the bill.
What can we do? As individual citizens, small business owners, members of trade groups, etc. we can let these 52 Senators – and especially those who may be the decisive votes – know how strongly we oppose the tax reform bill. For most of us, the most easily available tool is Twitter. That is because Senators do follow Twitter trends and because we can easily and effectively communicate with a Senator who is not our own representative in our home state. (Other methods are not so effective for out-of-state lobbying).
Action plan: Here is a list of the Twitter handles linking to the Twitter pages of the current Republican Senators. The expected ‘swing votes’ are listed in bold. I included all of them on the slim chance that any of them might swing to a “no” but that is unlikely if they plan to run for re-election. If you are not already in communication with these six swing vote Senators then I suggest that you use this link to follow them on Twitter and get their other office contact information into your contact list. I will focus my efforts on working both individually and with affiliated groups to convince these few key Senators to vote ‘no’ on tax reform.
The bottom line: Three of these seven Senators listed in bold must vote ‘no’ to defeat tax reform. (If Doug Jones wins in Alabama on December 12 then the number of required Republican Party defectors drops to two).
|Shelley Moore Capito||SenCapito|