If you want to talk about Roy Moore, have a conversation with yourself in your morning shower. Then be done with Roy for the day.
If you feel the need to get a laugh at the expense of funnyman Al Franken, tell yourself a joke. One joke. Then move on to another topic.
If you want to gasp at the thought that anyone would seriously consider allowing elephant hunters to bring their bounty back to the good ol’ US of A, be my guest, gasp about it. Be shocked and appalled. For five minutes.
I am not here to belittle the importance of respecting women, stopping sexual assault, or treating animals ethically. I’m a vegan who has been married for 29 years and has two daughters. Those topics are all extremely important to me. But right now, all these topics, and every other topic except for one, are distractions.
Let’s keep our collective eyes on the ball, shall we?
This past week, the “People’s House,” as they used to call the U.S. House of Representatives, voted out a tax bill that ought to be known as the “Mega Donor Giveaway Act of 2017.” The Republicans in the Senate are proposing a similar but not identical bill that would merit the same title. All the talk about fiscal conservatism that the bills’ proponents had been yapping about from’09-‘16 would be thrown out the window. Apparently, the new policy is, “Deficit be damned! Trickle down will have its day!”
But does trickle-down economics really work? Or more specifically, what is its track record? Let’s analyze that question carefully. Let’s bring before Congress the neutral, respectable economists who study that field as a science rather than use it as an opportunity to promote an agenda. Let’s engage our best journalists to summarize the reports that these respectable economists have written about the topic to date so that we the people can intelligently consider the issues for ourselves. And please, let’s not just sit back and shut up as the Congress tries to ram through a comprehensive tax bill without an opportunity for public consideration.
So far, the polls I’ve seen indicate that the American public opposes the Republican tax bills by a two-one margin. Shouldn’t we be asking the question why? Don’t the bills’ proponents need to appear before their constituents in town hall meetings and discuss with them why it is so important that we cut some people’s taxes dramatically while other, less affluent people can expect a tax hike?
And here’s the real question: if these tax bills seem poised to fundamentally reshape the wealth patterns in America, why isn’t this issue captivating our attention? Must we always devote the majority of our public policy focus to the sex and violence scandals du jour?
Perhaps the only way to get the media to stay focused on these Republican tax plans is to present them as scandalous. But that shouldn’t have to be the case. Sometimes, we as a society need to be smart enough to recognize when Congress is flirting with enacting a law that can change our nation for a generation or more. Reagan’s trickle-down efforts reshaped America to the point where the nation I grew up in during the ’60s and ‘70s hasn’t returned. Back then, we thought that our affluent people were doing just fine. But little did we know that the Gipper was about to present them with a boost that would substantially redistribute wealth ... and in their favor. Now, we are faced with the prospect of another law that could have equally dramatic effects in the same direction.
Is that really what we want? And do we want to let it happen without engaging in a serious national conversation about it?
I realize that tax policy isn’t sexy. But if we need sex to hold our interest, we’re no better than those predators we’ve all been obsessing about.