The following post, written by the Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
Disregarding the lives of millions of Americans, the expertise of economic analysts and business leaders, and the effects on the national debt and deficit, the morally bankrupt Senate Republicans jammed through the most comprehensive tax reform bill in thirty years on a party line vote in the early hours of Saturday morning.
This bill was hastily written in secret in just over a day and will have devastating effects on the poor and middle class while the top one percent will receive huge tax cuts and large corporations will make out like bandits. Republicans have promised that with this extra money corporations will increase wages and create jobs. Despite the fact that this has never happened and that corporations are already sitting and huge piles of cash, Congressional Republicans decided to give them more, much more. CEOs have said openly that tax policy doesn’t play a role in hiring or wage decisions and that this extra influx of cash will be used for things like executive bonuses and stock buybacks.
Congressional Republicans have also claimed that this bill will pay for itself in economic growth, never mind there is no credible model to support this. However, multiple analysts have agreed that over the next decade $1.5 trillion will be added to the national debt. The so-called fiscal hawks have become chicken hawks in a cynical ploy to pave the way to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in the years to come. By exploding the debt and deficit the Republicans have their argument for going after entitlement programs in the near future.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in a video message explains why the Republican tax bill of nearly 500 pages was dropped off just hours before it was to be voted on with cutoff and illegible handwritten edits in the margins providing no one the opportunity to read it. She concluded saying:
Don’t let anybody read it, just cram through what you want to cram through. And why? Because they know they got what they mostly need in here and that’s the payoff to big Republican donors. And whatever else it does to hard working families, whatever else it does to this economy, they don’t care. They just want to vote this thing through and payoff their donors. This isn’t right. This not how America should be making laws, and shame on the Republicans.
No, I haven’t had time to read the 500-page #GOPTaxScam bill that we’re voting on tonight. I couldn’t read it if I tried – and I did.
Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday, December 1, 2017
Senate Republicans know that their tax bill has the stench of rotting fish. They know they must stay ahead of an informed public to get their donors bidding done. So, all 52 Senate Republicans voted against multiple amendments to send this bill back to committee for further analysis. Requests for three legislative days to at least read the bill and consider some of its major provisions were swiftly rejected in the hours before its final passage.
This tax bill is so far off the rails in both procedure and content that there is not a framework in which to properly categorize it. Eugene Robinson has said that this tax policy is worse than that which is found in banana republics. New words need to be invented to describe the particular mix of evil, deception, and ridiculousness in this tax scam bill.
Congressional Republicans have forsaken their oath to uphold the constitution and the democratic process for passing legislation. Greed has become their guide and satisfying the wishes of their donors is their only desire. The proof is in the pledge to support this bill before it was even written and regardless of the costs to people’s lives or to the health of the economy.
Sojourners using the #2000verses on Twitter has been calling attention to the more than 2000 verses in Scripture on poverty and justice. Many of these verses specifically call oppressive governments to account for their immoral and unjust policy. Zechariah 7:10 cautions, Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. Others show personal accountability. Zacchaeus whose heart has been transformed by the gospel says, Look, half of my possession, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much (Luke19:8).
In these coming weeks when Christians focus on preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Mary’s song declares a word of hope and promise in the midst of rule by kleptocrats.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
Indeed, the powerful will be brought low and the lowly lifted up. The hungry will be fed with good things as the rich are sent away empty.
The Republican tax bill will be read, scrutinized, and every despicable danger made transparent for all to see. The hurried haphazard way in which it was written may have gotten it passed in the middle of the night, but it won’t stand the test of daylight exposing its every flaw and fraud.