If there’s one thing the Republican Party can be counted on to do, it’s lower the tax burden of wealthy Americans. They’re in the midst of an effort to do so right now, and one bill recently passed in the House of Representatives. But the bill is massively unpopular, with only 25 percent of Americans approving of it. Republicans have a remarkably candid response when pressed as to why they are pushing such unpopular and destructive legislation: it’s to please their donors.
Senator Chris Collins said of tax reform, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” Senator Lindsey Graham worried the “financial contributions will stop” without tax reform. Several Republican donors threatened the party, “We’re closing the checkbook until you get some things done.”
The ruse that the Republican tax plan will help ordinary, median-income families is easier than ever to see through, as even many Republicans have stopped defending it. In a recent interview, Trump advisor Gary Cohn said, “The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.” Cohn was in attendance at a recent Wall Street Journal event where CEOs were asked whether they planned to increase investment with their tax cut, and very few said they would.
Major CEOs admit they won’t reinvest their tax savings into workers or facilities. Republicans have begun to admit that the rich will receive a tax cut. Worse still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently admitted that many middle class families will actually see their tax burden increase. Deductions that help working people and graduate students are being cut to make room for an enormous tax windfall for the wealthiest Americans.
The Republican Party’s primary function as servants of the oligarchy is so solidified that their billionaire donors publicly threaten to cut them off if they don’t get their tax cut. And it isn’t just on taxes that the GOP has abandoned all pretense of serving the public good. A remarkable array of assaults on ordinary Americans and basic human decency have issued forth from the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress.
At the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos has rescinded protections both for sexual assault victims and disabled students. Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced he will seek a total repeal of net neutrality rules, which will give corporate internet providers unprecedented latitude to control what Americans can access online. The Environmental Protection Agency has become an arm of Big Oil; at a recent UN climate conference, the United States actually promoted coal. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department is actively rolling back civil rights reforms.
Trump himself is, as always, the most vulgar offender. After apparently negotiating the release of three Americans arrested in China, Trump, angry that the families weren’t properly grateful to him, tweeted, “I should have left them in jail!” He moved to lift a ban on ivory imports and elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, a decision he later – after outcry from his own party – begrudgingly reversed. In a disaster relief package Trump gave the liberal state of California, which has been devastated by wildfires, nothing.
Currently, the main source of Republican friction is Roy Moore, the disgraced Alabama judge and current Senate candidate accused of preying on at least nine teenage girls while in his 30s. But the Trump Administration and far-right media like Breitbart remain committed to Moore. Kellyanne Conway went from, “No Senate seat is worth more than a child,” to, a few days later, “We want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.” Trump, who personally stands to benefit enormously from the GOP tax plan, agreed with Conway, saying, “You have to do what you have to do.” For the greater good of upper-class tax cuts, that means making your bed with child molesters.
Some members of the GOP have embraced their near-comic book levels of villainy. When internet users remarked on how diabolical Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife looked while holding a sheet of money, Mnuchin said it’s “a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie.” Breitbart chief executive and former Trump senior advisor Steve Bannon told an interviewer last year, “Darkness is good… Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”
Those might be jokes from Mnuchin and Bannon, but they capture the very real essence of the modern GOP. The party openly supports legislation that worsens the suffering at the bottom and increases prosperity at the top. It feels no shame enacting policies that harm disabled people, trans people, assault victims, immigrants, and all of society’s most vulnerable. And its evil has been reinforced by a feedback loop between the party, its propaganda channels, and an ever-more rabid base.
Most Republicans probably don’t see their party as evil, but plenty of them like it precisely because of the evil it does – targeting minorities, elevating Christian fascists like Roy Moore, taking revenge on liberals, and serving the rich at the expense of vulnerable populations, peace, and the planet. Even before Trump took over the GOP, it was regarded by some as the most dangerous organization in history. If current trends are any indication, by the next election cycle Republicans will be touting that label as a badge of honor.