As a campaigner, billionaire real-estate tycoon Donald Trump promised he’d be the president for the masses, namely the struggling, disrespected middle class that makes up the bulk of this country. I still don’t understand how a chunk of hard-working Americans adopted Trump as their hero, but credit to The Don — he knows how to brand and his brand of isolationist, racist, pro-coal rants allowed him to electorally squeak into the presidency.
As president, Donald Trump promised he’d uphold his promises. Going into the tax-bill vote, Trump was 0 for 2 in the big-promise category (and thankfully so). The big, beautiful wall has not yet been built. And Obamacare remains intact, at least for now.
But the tax bill passed muster. So Donald Trump entered the new year with a .333 average, impressive numbers for a slugger if not the supposed leader of the free world.
Knowing Donald Trump as we do (after a year in office of getting to know him — his bluster, his tweets, his inattention to detail, his lack of understanding about how this country works), our president behaved as expected. He beat his own chest and sang his own praises as soon as the GOP’s final tax plan became law. This self-congratulation wasn’t founded upon ideal. It was founded upon the art of the deal. Which means it was founded on an insecure man’s need to win at any cost.
The cost, long-term, will be great. While it’s impossible to know, exactly, how badly this tax plan will damage the masses, all legitimate studies show that once the initial breaks for the middle class disappear in 2027, taxes for most Americans will increase. All legitimate studies also point to the failure of trickle-down economics. And all legitimate studies point to one sure thing: the rich will get richer off the new tax laws. This means Donald Trump and his family will be able to re-plate their gold-plated mansions. This means all those GOP landowners/congressmen will add money to their coffers.
For Donald Trump, the new tax law is a personal win built on the backs of most of us — the losers. That’s precisely what we are in Trump’s eyes. Our president may love speaking to the masses, but he doesn’t love the masses. He looks down on us. Just as he objectifies women as things to be grabbed and had, he objectifies us — to Donald Trump we’re not alpha but beta; we’re losers to be manipulated and lied to. Trump’s meritocracy is based on money, not goodness or kindness or generosity or refinement. He’s a promoter of capitalism without subtleties. The winners are those that make the most money — the rest of us be damned (and conned). The GOP politicians who have fallen in line with this immoral man are just as immoral. They should be ashamed.
We (the losers), according to all polls, are against the new tax laws; 67 percent of Americans believe the tax overhaul will only help the rich. GOP politicians might argue that the ignorant masses don’t understand the nuances of their tax plan, but the truth is most GOPers don’t know the nuances because they haven’t read the entire plan, a document that’s north of 400 pages with illegible scribbles down the margins. I would bet my entire loser’s salary that our president couldn’t parse the tax plan’s nuances either. This is a president who doesn’t believe in fine print. This is a man who doesn’t even believe in lower-case letters, certainly not when the only word he cares about is spelled T-R-U-M-P.
Money already begets money in our country. The new tax laws will allow money to beget more money. Rich politicians will be able to buy more air time, thereby securing their positions of political power. And the richest Americans, who prefer to stay on the sidelines and have congressmen do their bidding, will be able to buy more legislation.
And that’s precisely what this tax law is. It’s bought legislation, not representative legislation. It’s survival of the greediest at its ugliest. It’s capitalism in its least subtle, most unforgiving form. It’s a victory for winners like Donald Trump. It’s a loss for the rest of us. BIG TIME.
More taxation. Less representation. President Trump is no student of history, but perhaps he should take some time out from his TV viewing to read up on the Revolutionary War. One phrase in particular might be worth noting: Taxation without representation is tyranny.
Adam Berlin is the author of "Both Members of the Club" (winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize), "The Number of Missing,” "Belmondo Style" (winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award), and “Headlock." He teaches writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and co-edits "J Journal: New Writing on Justice" (AdamBerlin.com). For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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