Republicans purport to wring their hands over "who would pay" for a 20% "border tax" on imports. That question's easy to answer: who always pays, i.e., everyone except corporate CEOs. That explains why they like the idea so much! Well, that and the fact that the "border tax" would (along with a 20% "corporate income tax") replace the 35% corporate tax, finally delivering that big corporate tax cut that corporations don't need because they already get so many handouts tax-wise. Of course all that's heinous, but what folks may not realize is that the "border tax" is essentially a back-door national sales tax -- you think Congress will lift a finger preventing big corporations from passing that tax on to consumers? -- and, as you may know, I hate sales taxes, because they hit working people far harder than they hit the well-off. When are we going to get back to taxing high incomes in this country? Don't tell me those high-income folks have earned it unless you can explain to me exactly how these hifalutin financial instruments are exactly like the real, hard work our parents and grandparents did when they built a middle class in America.
The Philadelphia Daily News's John Baer frustrates me at times, like when he describes the apparent difficulty good Pennsylvanians have been having getting hold of their junior Senator, Republican Pat Toomey. (I haven't been able to reach him on the phone for days myself.) He quotes Mr. Toomey's spokeshack extensively to the effect that Mr. Toomey only has four staff per office, all of whom who have other duties, which begs the question why not hire more staff? That would be job creation, after all. And while Mr. Baer reassures us that reaching out to your elected officials is "fundamental to creating or maintaining a society that actually cares about how and by whom it is governed," he's still a bit too eager to point out that "some, if not most or all" folks who complain about not being able to reach Mr. Toomey "are tied to a national online effort called 'Indivisible' urging grassroots opposition to Trump’s agenda." "Are tied to" should beg the question by whom?, if not the question why would a journalist use passive verbs?, if not the question why does that matter? And, having taken the Parable of the Prodigal Son to heart over the years, I've stopped cutting people down by saying where were you before the election?
David Brooks at the New York Times wonders "What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like." The spirit is willing to believe Mr. Brooks's assertion that Mr. Trump can be "played" by anyone who flatters him enough, but I still think we're better off believing that Mr. Trump and Our Glorious Elites are playing us, and that this "war" between himself and the "establishment" is a phony war. And sure I laughed out loud at the final "saving thought" that "(t)he human imagination is vast, but it is not nearly vast enough to encompass the infinitely multitudinous ways Donald Trump can find to get himself disgraced" -- but he disgraced himself in fairly unprecedented ways before Election Day, and still won. My real problem here, though, is that Mr. Brooks seems to think everything was fine until Mr. Trump got elected, that "moral arbiters in Congress like Howard Baker and Sam Ervin" ever did very much moral arbitrating, that "a single media establishment that shapes how the country sees the president" is a good thing. And I bet quite a few black folks could tell him that we already weren't "experienc(ing) the same reality."
From the "So Smart, They're Dumb" file: Democratic Party poobahs have apparently asked for Bernie Sanders's help in ensuring that all of this populist anger gets directed at Republicans and not them. Why they think they deserve a shield against populist anger is beyond me -- sure, they're "unified" against Obamacare repeal, but that's yet another place where unity won't actually help them fight repeal! Worse, they seem to think they deserve a shield not just against populist anger but against the popular will -- they have no business suggesting that, say, Pat Toomey should get pointed questions at townhalls but Robert Casey shouldn't, because Mr. Casey should be just as accountable to the people as Mr. Toomey. The Post doesn't report what Mr. Sanders said in reply, which should concern you if (like me) you worry that he now has the Democratic leadership's ear not because he's earned it (though he has!), but because they want to neuter him and co-opt his supporters. If he needs to, he can always ask Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras how well ingratiating oneself with elites has worked for him.
Finally, embedded in this interesting assessment, by U.S. News and World Reportcontributing editor John Stoehr, of Donald Trump's weakness in the face of reversal, is his claim that white working class folks are predisposed to "authoritarianism" rather than "socialism," and that they "eat and sleep being told what to do." I'm not entirely sure what that last part means, unless he's telling us the workplace isn't a democracy and a great deal about familial relationships isn't particularly optional, but I know plenty of white working class folks myself, and they regard themselves as fairly independent thinkers, and you can only create a real authoritarian state if you convince the majority they're doing it on their own. Also, I'd say the white working class isn't predisposed to "authoritarianism" so much as they're predisposed to impatience. And you can't really blame them, not just because politicians fail them so often, but also because, well, being impatient is really part of our heritage as Americans -- we get crap done because we refuse to be thwarted, and impatience doesn't need to end in authoritarianism any more than conservatism needs end in reactionary extremism.