Democratic Congresswoman hammers GOP Tax Scam

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)

If you want to see how to conduct a hard-hitting line of questioning, look no further than the House Ways and Means Committee‘s November 6 hearing on the markup of the Republicans’ wildly misnamed “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The Democrats have already termed the Republicans’ bill the “GOP Tax Scam” for its central elements of cutting taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, adding well over a trillion dollars to the national debt, and trying to make up for some of the shortfall by taking away important deductions for middle and lower income Americans, including home mortgages, medical expenses, state and local taxes, student loans, and teacher classroom expenses. Corporations, however, would not have to give up these or comparable deductions under the GOP Tax Scam. At last week’s hearing, Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington took this theme one step further, by calmly asking a series of simple questions to Tom Barthold, the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. As seen here in the video and in the transcript below, DelBene’s questions cut to the heart of the GOP Tax Scam’s fundamental unfairness:

Democrats attack “GOP tax scam”

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi with another recent messaging effort

It is very rare for the Democratic Party to come up with a phrase, and have members hammer it home in unison. Thus, it’s noteworthy that leading Democrats are doing just that regarding the Republican U.S. Senate and U.S. House tax bills released over the past week. The Democrats are using the phrase “GOP Tax Scam” to attack these plans. Here is a sampling of those Democratic attacks on Twitter:

Messaging guru George Lakoff asks: Why are you a Democrat?

Democratic Donkey

Dr. George Lakoff, retired professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a communications guru for Democrats, asks this week’s key question: “Why are you a Democrat?” Lakoff’s question can be found at his blog, and on his Twitter feed:

Lakoff’s question comes at a crucial time for Democrats.

Republican Senators sending mixed messages

Sen. John McCain at a recent hearing.

It was big news on Tuesday when Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona took to the Senate floor to announce that he would not run for re-election, and to attack Donald Trump and fellow Republicans for enabling the Trump administration’s “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” and a “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms.” Just hours later, however, Flake joined all but two of his Republican colleagues to strike down a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have allowed class action lawsuits against financial institutions for predatory and deceptive business practices. This juxtaposition between words and deeds among Republican Senators is sending a mixed message to Americans.

The great Republican hoodwink

Donald Trump on the golf course, again

Donald Trump‘s approval numbers — as low as 32 percent — are the worst ever for a president at this point in his term. Likewise,  Trump’s handling of the hurricanes this season dropped 20 points to just 44 percent after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and, instead of focusing on helping the people there (who are Americans), Trump took to the golf course and then criticized them. What’s amazing, though, is that Trump’s approval among Republicans is quite high. Why the disconnect?

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Right wing Twitter bots posing as attractive women

Orange-helping fembots

If you search Twitter for “John Kelly” (White House Chief of Staff) to find out the latest on rumors of his possible resignation, you may stumble upon tweet after tweet indicating “John Kelly Reveals Why He Didn’t Wear a US Flag Pin During Confirmation.” Here’s an example:

Checking out some of these tweets, you will find that nearly every one was posted by an attractive-looking white woman, according to their profiles. Moreover, many such profiles were nearly identical, often indicating “Wife,” “Mom,” “Animal Lover,” “Patriot,” “Middle Class Trump Supporter,” etc. And even more creepy is that, besides the tweet about Kelly and the flag pin, many of these accounts have identical tweets down the line, in the same order, including “Lying Liberal Media is 92% Negative Against President Trump,” “RNC Chairwoman RIPS Michelle Obama’s Claim GOP is ‘ALL WHITE MEN,’” “BREAKING: Senate Intel Committee BLASTS Media for FAKE Russia News,” and the like. Furthermore, many of the posted stories come from “reportsecret.com.” When you search for that outlet, you get a 404 Error. Other links go to truthfeednews.com, which does exist, and it is some conservative publication. Their Kelly post didn’t criticize Kelly directly, but it did say this:

Ever since Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency, the American flag has been under an all-out assault.

NFL athletes routinely disrespect our flag, as do Hollywood celebrities, far-left denizens, and Democrat politicians.

In fact, many Democrat politicians make a point of choosing to not wear an American flag pin on their jackets, a subtle snub to our country and to those who are patriotic.

Here are a few more examples of the profiles found and some of the tweets in question:

Now is not too soon to talk about gun violence

The Knotted Gun

The shootings by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas on Sunday night were the deadliest in modern U.S. history. 59 people are now dead, with over 500 injured. And yet, on Monday, Trump White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked if Donald Trump was now discussing whether new gun laws are needed, replied that “it would be premature for us to discuss policy” so soon after the killings. Sanders’ reply is similar to what many conservatives and the National Rifle Association say when confronted with mass shootings of civilians involving semiautomatic or, in this case, automatic, weapons. They are wrong for a couple of major reasons:

Donald Trump, the Great Divider

Armed white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA

Successful presidents of both political parties are usually the ones who, in times of crisis or difficulty, rise above partisanship and unite America. There are many examples of this, from Abraham Lincoln literally keeping the Union together, to Franklin Roosevelt leading us against Germany and Japan in World War 2, to Ronald Reagan eulogizing the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts or calling upon Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton soothing a shocked America after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush standing with firefighters at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and Barack Obama successfully hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden. We may not agree with the policies these presidents pursue after such crises (for example, Bush’s Iraq War), but at least for a time, these leaders make us feel like we’re part of one big, strong nation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Donald Trump. Rather than being a Great Uniter, he has repeatedly proven himself to be the Great Divider, usually along racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Trump essentially begun his presidential run during Barack Obama’s presidency by being one of the head cheerleaders in the “birther” movement, which questioned Obama’s Americanism and his birth certificate. Trump then ran his own presidential campaign in a divisive manner from the get-go, saying in his presidential announcement speech about Mexican immigrants:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

From there, Trump has pitted one group (often his base of white males) against another, including the following partial list:

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.