A Point-by-point Takedown of McClintock's Latest Opinion Piece

On Tuesday, right-wing outlet The Washington Examiner published an opinion piece by Tom McClintock. We found the substance and timing of this article insensitive given the national uproar surrounding Trump's "sh**hole" comments. The problem of course, isn’t that Trump has concerns about the state of affairs in these struggling nations. Rather, it is the fact that he has a problem with the people from these countries. McClintock has yet to provide any response, and his silence can only be interpreted as support for the President's position on immigration. 

It should also be noted that as our nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., McClintock was conspicuously absent and made no remark to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King online, or via email.

For those of us who have listened to McClintock's comments regarding immigration at town hall meetings, this behavior comes as no surprise. We remember how in March of last year, he suggested to Doris Romero, one of our local DREAMers, that she should "return to her own country and apply for admission the way millions of legal immigrants have done for generations.” (Fact Check: We didn't have any meaningful immigration law until 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act which was intended to exclude people of "inferior races.") We also recall his frequent comments insisting that immigrants "assimilate" to American culture. This of course, is code-speak for conforming to an Alt-right, white monoculture.

Passing a clean DREAM Act is of paramount importance to Tom's constituency and we have expressed our desire for him to do the right thing with great frequency, urgency, and in great numbers. Despite our efforts, he maintains his hard-line stance supporting white nationalism. Tom may not be a racist, but he does a good job supporting racists. 

And so, with DREAMers, immigration, and CHIP renewal at the top of our collective list of national priorities, Tom decided this was a good time to say something in support of Trump's tax bill. As much as we'd like to ignore his divisive words and let his opinion remain unnoticed and forgotten alongside his empty-chamber speeches and Breitbart articles, we cannot let this contemptible work of propaganda go unanswered. 

“As the tax reform bill entered its final consideration in December, one congressional Democrat confided to a colleague that the reason they so vehemently opposed it was that they were afraid it would work.”

We’ve heard this talking point from the GOP many times, but have yet to learn who actually made this confession. The truth is, the tax bill was designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans. To that end, yes. Most of us are afraid the bill will fulfill its designed intent.

"According to polls, most people believe it will mean tax increases and a declining standard of living for middle-class families."

True. Most people have learned from virtually every independent analysis that the tax bill will do exactly that.

"They believe it because that’s what the Democratic machine…”

Machine? This is divisive language and comes off as hypocritical given your frequent comment that we should be "TALKING WITH each other and not SHOUTING AT each other."

“They believe it because that’s what the Democratic machine and the left-stream media have told them."

We believe it because that’s what we’ve been told by the virtually every independent analysis of the bill.

"It will be hard to maintain that narrative, or preserve a shred of political credibility, if people perceive that their paychecks are growing"

Growing relative to what? It's hard to be grateful for a pittance when the ultra-wealthy receive the largest benefit.

“companies across America began announcing bonuses, pay raises, and major new investment plans”

There have been few reports of companies providing raises as a result of the tax bill. Yes, there were some highly-touted and well-timed one-time bonuses announced to great fanfare as a part of the GOP's PR push, but we all know the truth. Companies are loath to provide raises if they don't absolutely have to as it hurts their projections and subsequently, their stock price. 

Besides, companies were already flush with domestic cash and their stock values were at all-time highs before the tax bill. If they were going to give out raises and invest in new jobs, they would've already done so. 

 

"A variety of calculators are already available on the Internet so that every family can see for themselves whether they personally benefit from the tax cuts. (Check out taxplancalculator.com for a quick glimpse at how your family benefits)"

It’s hard to take this seriously given that this calculator was built by conservative Maxim Lott, executive producer for John Stossel. This calculator doesn't provide projections for future years. It seems that you’re trying to focus on small, near-term savings while ignoring all of the tax deductions that we lost, including costs incurred from natural disasters like wildfire. You’re hoping folks will overlook the fact that our taxes will go up once these cuts expire in 2025. 

Here is a better calculator that provides projections for future years.

"Even in my over-taxed home state of California,"

Hold on. First of all, WE voted for the propositions that require those taxes, and WE continue to elect representatives put those taxes in place. If we had a problem with taxes, we would’ve done something about it.

Second, California is now the 5th largest economy in the world (having recently passed Great Britain after their misguided Brexit) and people keep moving here. In fact, across a broad array of metrics, California continues to lead the nation. Yes, we've got our problems, but it's not like we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world or anything. 

Finally, if you've got a problem with our state, then we suggest you leave your gated, man-made lake community in Elk Grove (you don't even live in your own district!) and move to Kansas. You'll love it there.

We love California and would appreciate you not bashing our home at every opportunity. 

"The rate reductions in the final bill more than compensate for limitations on state and local tax deductions for almost every family."

Again, the tax savings for the vast majority of American’s is expected to be small, and they expire after a few years. With the elimination of so many deductions, we are left to hope that there aren't any more wildfires, earthquakes, or mudslides IN CALIFORNIA. 

"lower rates and the take-home pay will jump – even before accounting for the surge in wages that always accompanies an economic expansion."

We just had one of the largest & longest periods of economic expansion in our nation's history, yet wages stagnated.

“By spring, most economists expect a significant burst in economic growth”

Not true. Forbes (not exactly a bastion of liberalism) reports that most economists say the opposite. In fact, out of 42 of our nation’s top economists, only 1 believed the tax bill would help the economy.

“resulting from stranded offshore capital being repatriated because U.S. tax barriers have come down"

We tried this back in 2004. Only a handful of companies repatriated cash holdings and most of the money was used for stock buy-backs and and to pay dividends to wealthy investors. Oh... They also laid off a ton of people

“In addition to claiming tax reform will produce only middle-class misery and economic malaise,"

Layoffs and store closings last month:

  • Carrier: 215
  • Walmart: 3,000
  • Sam’s Club: 63 stores, 9,000
  • GE: 12,000
  • AT&T: 1,300
  • Macy’s: 10,000
  • Tenet Healthcare: 2,000
  • Allergan: 1,000
  • UAMS: 600
  • Humana: 2,700
  • Pfizer: 300
  • GoPro: 254+
  • ArcelorMittal: 150
  • Northrop Grumman: 82
  • Capital One Financial: 130
  • Wells Fargo: 800 locations
  • Flextronics Americas: 138
  • Absolute Plastics: 100
  • Sodexo: 450 (announced today)
"Democrats have also maintained that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance.” 

3.2 MILLION more uninsured since Trump took office. 13 million more to come as a result of the tax bill.

“Because the tax reform removes the stiff tax penalties levied against 6.5 million families who chose not to purchase over-priced Obamacare policies.”

Right, but instead of helping, you forced families to make a Sophie's Choice resulting in millions of Americans taking a huge risk by dropping coverage. Meanwhile, those who need coverage the most will see premiums go up as a result of lower-risk folks dropping out.

Everyone has a body. > Health is temporary. > Everyone needs healthcare. Like interstate highways or national defense, healthcare is a universal need.

“These families will now have that money available to meet their needs according to their own judgment.”

You make it sound like life before the Affordable Care Act was awesome.

Here’s a better idea. Let's "promote the general welfare" and join every other industrialized nation on the planet with Universal Health Care. Why are we funneling billions into the profit margins of middleman insurance companies?

“13 million Americans now coerced into buying Obamacare plans will choose cheaper alternatives since the mandate is repealed.”

Cheaper alternatives? Do you mean like this??

Hundreds of people line up in the early morning to attend a free health clinic in Virginia. - 2016

 

You continue to rail against “Obamacare” (the Affordable Care Act) yet you’ve done nothing to help families who can’t afford these mysterious “cheaper alternatives.”

“This invites the question, if Obamacare is so wonderful, why must we force families to buy it?”

Nobody said the Affordable Care Act was wonderful, but it was better than nothing which is exactly what you delivered. Nothing. Everyone agreed it needed work and overall it was moving in the right direction, but instead of “repeal and replace” you’ve only delivered on “repeal.” 

"And if 6.5 million families already prefer paying the penalty to buying insurance, what does that say about the signature achievement of the Obama Democrats?”

Your question should've been “What can we do to get more people covered and lower premiums.” NOT “Let’s kill ACA and leave millions of Americans without healthcare.” Remember your President’s promise “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” Whatever happened with that?

“The Democrats have seized on projections the reform will add $1.5 trillion of new debt over the next 10 years”

You're trying to make it sound like these projections are "fake news" one-offs. However, these projections came from YOUR budget office, the Tax Policy Center, and the highly-regarded Penn Wharton Budget Model. We know this routine. You tried it with climate change and it didn't take. It's not going to work here. We'll stick with the experts.

“Yet, when Ronald Reagan cut the top marginal tax rate by half”

Hold on... You fail to mention that just a year after that cut, Reagan and the GOP were forced to raise taxes in '82 with TERFA taking away about half the cuts that had been put in place. Then, we got hit again in ‘83 when Congress increased the tax to Social Security. Finally, in ’84 the Deficit Reduction Act rolled back most of the original tax cuts. By the end of Reagan's second term as President, he would sign off on 11 different tax increases making him one of the biggest tax-increasing President's in our nation's history.

“Several prominent economists, including Martin Feldstein and Arthur Laffer, are predicting an additional $1.5 - 2 trillion of new tax revenues to all levels of government solely due to economic expansion.”

I'd say you cherry-picked your economists here, but it's likely that these two represent the only notable economists on the planet who would make such a bold prediction. Not everyone reading this will recognize the two gentlemen you are referring to, so it's worth providing some background: 

Martin Feldstein was a major architect of Reagan's "trickle-down" tax policy, and Laffer is the guy that provided its formulaic underpinning. These two are the main architects that led to our new gilded age that developed since Reagan's tax cuts, then accelerated by G.W. Bush's tax cuts. If you think I'm exaggerating, you MUST watch this interview with Laffer where he admits that while the rich were getting ridiculously wealthy off our productivity gains, the rest of us should just be thankful for just having a job. It may be a low-skill job with low pay and minimal benefits, but Laffer asserts that the only alternative was no job.

Both of these men profited enormously from their work attacking the middle class, and now they're doomed to spending the rest of their days defending their ruinous economic policies. NO ONE believes them, and the lie of supply-side “trickle down” economics is well understood. Your attempts to spin and defend the tax bill are transparent and only serve to accelerate your political demise.

“The strangest attack is that the personal income tax cuts expire in 8 years, leaving many Americans worse off.”

What's so strange about that? The tax cuts do expire, and most Americans will be worse off thanks to your elimination of tax deductions. 

“This provision was due solely to archaic Senate budget rules.”

Yes. You made the cuts temporary to avoid the Senate requirement that when a bill impacts our federal deficit as much as the tax bill does, that it get at least 60 votes. How is that a bad thing?

“It’s a very dangerous argument for Democrats to make, since every American knows the permanence of the tax cuts depends entirely on which party is in power.”

Duly noted.

“Democrats have left no doubt if they are returned to office, the tax cuts are over.”

If it means that we’ll get healthcare premiums back down and get more people insured, then we’ll take it. Besides, it’s unlikely that Democrats will let tax cuts expire for low and middle-income households. Obama and the Democrats didn’t reverse the Bush tax cuts when they held control. Yes, it’s likely that Democrats will raise taxes on high-income households to address the wealth gap, and to address the enormous spike in the deficit as a result of your tax bill.

“And Republicans have made it just as clear that their unfinished business is to make the cuts permanent.”

Indeed. To do this, you plan to cut Medicare and Social Security. What about all those promises Trump made?

 

“Let’s see what people prefer this fall.”

Most of us have already decided.

“Ronald Reagan asked a simple question both in 1980,”

You may want to rethink your strategy of trying to sell the tax bill as a return to the Reagan years. The circumstances leading to his presidency were very different. 

“..and when he ran against the economic malaise of the Carter years,”

Carter was elected into a recession. Poor monetary policy resulted in double-digit inflation. Then the oil crisis hit. Reagan was a savvy opportunist.

“after he had implemented the same pro-growth policies Trump is now implementing.”

REPEAT: By the end of Reagan's second term as President, he would sign off on 11 different tax increases making him one of the biggest tax-increasing President's in our nation's history. Also, Reagan was a huge Keynesian. Nobody did big government better.

“Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

Good question. The GOP has been been holding the purse strings to our nation’s budget for the past seven years. During that time wealthy campaign donors have seen their wealth skyrocket while the rest of us flatlined.

 

“No politician or pundit can spin the answer to that question – every American knows it precisely in their own lives.”

Isn’t that exactly what you’re trying to do with this opinion piece?

“That question devastated Democrats in both elections, because the answer was self-evident.”

The evidence of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and foreign influence in the last few election cycles is overwhelming and undeniable. Also, let’s not forget that 3 million more people voted for Hillary than Trump. That's quite a majority of Americans.

“Republicans are now uniquely poised to ask it once again.”

You were the only member of the House to flip from a NO to a YES on the tax bill; a bill that offers us a pittance while handing over MASSIVE amounts of cash to the ultra-wealthy. You have already asked that question, and we have already decided our answer.

See you in November.