The next step is reconciliation and working out the differences with the House version, passed much earlier where Speaker Ryan had much less trouble lining up the troops for the necessary votes. Technically, it is always possible the bill can be improved in this process, but don’t hold your breath. Republicans in Washington are hell bent on helping the very rich with permanent cuts and teasing the middle class with benefits that will go away in a few years.
Despite the image of listening to their constituents and the hard work of many Kansans to get their messages of concern across, the entire Kansas delegation is lined up to vote for the bill—regardless of solid arguments being made and overwhelming evidence of the failure of a similarly-minded law in their own state. Also, what happened to Republican concerns about the massive increases in the national debt? When you are talking about trillions one would think that would become quite a concern. Now I know there were some saying that was not going to happen, but they seemed to be on the side of wanting the bill to pass. Respected independent analysts were consistent in their major deficit concern. It seems fiscal responsibility is no longer a Republican value.
In reading the follow-up analysis of what this tax bill could end up doing, a couple of changes got my attention. One was taxing the tuition waivers that graduate students receive for participating in various teaching and research assistantships and, in the process, making it much more difficult to advance their education. Another was a proposal that undermined a research and development tax credit many companies use to encourage innovation. I still don’t know all the details and the implications, but it seems to me that reducing the graduate student population and taking away incentives for innovation will only make it even more difficult for us to compete around the world.
But it appears we do want to give the wealthiest of our citizens and companies tax breaks that help their bottom line but will have little or no help for adding jobs and salary increases for workers. This will not change until voters see through this cash grab for the rich and start voting for their own interests. Until then, the moneyed elites will prevail, to the detriment of our country’s future.