A political cartoon from Paul Seccomb
It’s the plot of a new Holiday Hollywood blockbuster or America’s future tax system. It was a smash and grab job. Get in, get the loot, get out before the American people even see it. A job like this requires an elaborate con and an easy mark.
Sadly, the environment was perfect for two millionaires to pull it off. They just needed the help of 300 of their mostly wealthy friends. Not since the days of the Copper Kings has Montana seen such brazen enriching of themselves by our elected officials. “Don’t look at our outrageous tax breaks because you get pennies on the dollar” say our millionaire representatives.
Just take Steve Daines for example. Daines pretended to hold out his support in order to try and secure provisions that would “help main street”. But in reality Senator Daines was holding out for a carve out for him and his rich buddies. Don’t take my word for it. The IB Times highlighted the impact Daines’ special interest carve out would have to Senators.
The tax debate started with a easy and alluring promise: we will make it simpler for you to do your taxes and you will pay less. Promises were made. Loopholes in the current system ‘exposed’. Some members of Congress sold the lie that we would all be able to do our taxes on a postcard!
But the noble goal of lower and simpler taxes quickly divulged into a closed-door, backroom special interest fest. There were no hearings, no town halls, just a hastily drafted, loophole riddled bill that nearly every Republican dutifully voted for. There was some House members who voted against the final bill, but every Republican Senator hopped on board the gravy train at the expense of the next generation.
There are some good things in here. But Daines and Gianforte are banking on the fact that people will be too distracted, angry, or just too damn busy, to see that this bill is a massive handout to them and their rich friends. Yes, the mom in Two Dot will likely see 2 or 3 bucks more a paycheck. Now she will pay higher premiums to Blue Cross because thousands of Montanans will leave the insurance pool. The small businessman in Dillon might see less of his income taxed, but when he retires Medicare will no longer exist.
We’ve gone into debt to build roads, finance wars, to dig our economy out of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression. And now we’ve gone into debt to give Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, and CEO’s across America bigger–tax deductible–private jets, more lavish corporate retreats, and new loopholes to explore.
A bill drafted and passed in the dead of night is going to be riddled with enough loopholes to drive a Versatile tractor through. And who is going to be able to afford a high-priced tax attorney? Not me. Not you. Millionaires like Greg and Steve will.
This is a new golden age for the Robber Barons and Daines and Gianforte are leading the charge. You have to admire the hubris of Daines and Gianforte. They think they can raid the our coffers and get away with it if they toss us a few pennies to their dollars. They are hoping we don’t notice. They are hoping we are distracted by the shiny coin while they make out with the loot.
I think Montanans are smarter than that. Daines and Gianforte are banking on it that we’re not.