Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan, and House majority whip Steve Scalise share a laugh when a reporter Ryan called on began to ask Pence a question about his criticism of Donald Trump during a joint news conference on September 13, 2016. (Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)
They told us they did it not for the rich, but to help middle-class and poor families. But here we are in the thick of the 2018 congressional elections, and — shhhhh — silence. Not a single lawmaker who voted for this grand ideological promise is mentioning it, much less running ads touting their role in hammering the plan into law.
By Jim Hightower / 01.03.2018
Listen … Can you hear it? Listen to the eerie “sound of silence” from the Trumpeteers and congressional Republicans who so loudly cheered themselves just a year ago for bestowing a trillion-dollar tax giveaway on corporate elites.
They told us they did it not for the rich, but to help middle-class and poor families. How would enriching the already rich benefit the rest of us? “Trickle-down Economics 101,” said Trump & Company, explaining that giving more money to elites would spark “an immediate jump in wage growth” because CEOs would use their bonanza to reward workers for their productivity. The White House even got specific, declaring that average pay would jump as much as $9,000 per person.
But here we are in the thick of the 2018 congressional elections, and — shhhhh — silence. Not a single lawmaker who voted for this grand ideological promise is mentioning it, much less running ads touting their role in hammering the plan into law. Why so shy?
Because their trickle-down giveaway to the superrich was a crude hoax from the start. CEOs spent the trillion-dollar boondoggle the GOP doled out to them on raising their own exorbitant pay. Once again, moneyed elites got the gold mine, working families got the shaft. As Bloomberg News reports, far from enjoying their promised $9,000 income boost, the workaday majority of Americans now find that their hourly earnings are lower than they were a year ago.
But who cares? Being a Trumpeteer Republican means never admitting your lies and never apologizing. Steve Mnuchin, a former Wall Street banker who’s now the secretary of the treasury, is a perfect example of a blase, ethically challenged Trump huckster. He recently shrugged off the failure of the bloated tax cut that he promoted to raise working people’s income: “Wages are going up on some people,” he declared disingenuously.
Yeah, wages are going up — for multimillionaires like him. Yet he wonders why most Americans despise him and his ilk.
Someone needs to buy a Grassroots USA tour package for the members of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers so they can at least visit the real world for once in their lives.
The three professors on the council are ivory-tower ideologues whose sole professional expertise seems to be twisting reality to fit their boss’ right-wing fantasia. In July, for example, the trio issued a fairy tale disguised as an official government report on poverty, essentially asserting that our U-S of A no longer has a poverty problem. “Poof,” declared these learned ones from on high — the need for food stamps, Medicaid, public housing and other assistance has virtually disappeared in our land. Jobs abound, they lectured, the economy is pumping out great gobs of new wealth, and happy bluebirds are spreading joy everywhere.
You can imagine the comfort that this report by aloof academics has brought to the 45 million Americans now living below the poverty line. That line means they’re trying to make ends meet on only $25,000 a year — not per person, but for a family of four. Let’s see any of Trump’s advisers try to live on that before smugly claiming that poverty is “largely over.”
What’s at work here is the political manipulation of statistics to support Trump’s ideological delusion that poor people are losers who are addicted to safety net programs. As a narcissistic son of privilege, he is out to cut those programs and to impose strict work requirements on families seeking public assistance. Never mind that most recipients of aid already work, subjected to the hardships of poverty by the low wages of their jobs.
But that’s the real world, and it doesn’t mesh with Trump & Company’s cruel self-deception that basic humane benefits make poverty “too pleasant.” They’re imposing a Dickensian governing ethic that is fundamentally obscene … and un-American.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.