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July 18, 2018


While listening to apologists for the Helsinki disaster (a seditious or treasonous experience – take your pick – or take both) and Trump’s choice of the word of a murdering dictator over that of a unanimous American intelligence community cached immaterially in terms of moral equivalence (everybody’s doing it, Bill did it, what about Crooked Hillary, happened on Obama’s watch, etc.), I thought we had reached a nadir of sorts, i.e., the final surrender of America and its influence to anti-democratic dictatorship the world over, with Putin the first recipient of Trump’s largesse in Trump’s criticism of America’s institutions and values, putdowns of NATO and our allies etc., all bulwarked by subservient body language in Putin’s presence. I can only presume that the secret meeting he had with Putin was worse, but who will ever know absent Mueller’s subpoena of the American translator who was there?

I couldn’t believe I was hearing the words I was hearing from any American, and certainly not from an American president. It was as though he and Putin were on the same page. I suppose I should not have been surprised given Trump’s commendation of a murdering Filipino president, a saber-rattling Kim and other despots in this world. Trump was, I thought, in Helsinki to defend American values and take Putin to task for interfering in our elections, annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine etc. He didn’t. Parenthetically, I note that in his bumbling attempt to cover the disaster yesterday, he did not mention either Crimea or Ukraine as topics for discussion, thus giving inferential approval to Putin’s total disregard of international law in such connection. What he and Putin did not talk about is as revealing as what they did talk about. It is not Putin but what he personifies that is antithetical to American values and history. There are other dictators in this world who are given aid and succor with Trump’s sickening departure from Western values and institutions as well as wannabe dictators who will now succeed, following Trump’s approval of authoritarian regimes and his open approval of dictators as “strong leaders.”

I thought with this thumbnail sketch of the last few days of infamy that it couldn’t get any worse. Then I received the summer copy of my favorite political magazine in the mail, The American Prospect. This edition was the first in some thirty years that involved only one topic – the grossly and even illegally misnamed “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” (The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the title had to be dropped in the final legislation but Republicans ignored such ruling and still call it the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”)

So I was wrong – it does get worse. The Republican Tax Act of 2017 may well be as destructive domestically as Trump’s trashing of our values and institutions is in international terms. It is the worst tax bill ever passed and in making the rich even richer and the rest of us poorer it operates, like Trump’s ignorant and democracy-destroying chatter in Helsinki, to undermine and corrode our democracy and saddle our economy with burdens it cannot withstand, guaranteeing a recession (or worse), and soon. The economy is doing well for those in upper income brackets, as it always has like in the Roaring Twenties right before the onset of the Great Depression, but the chump change wage increases ballyhooed by Republicans in their Tax Act for the rest of us have, predictably, been eaten up by inflation all the way from groceries to insurance premiums to shoes for the kids.

The economy is not doing well for the great majority of us whose actual wages in terms of buying power are LESS than before the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law – and with Trump’s tariff trade wars certain to increase the price of imports even more (while countervailing tariffs from our trading partners create unemployment in our export industries) the pace of inflation is certain to increase, thus further reducing the buying power and increasing the wage inequality of American workers. The Act is a picture of corrupt vote-buying by the rich and I can’t wait for its repeal.

So can things get even yet worse with Trump at the helm? I’m afraid to ask.     GERALD        E




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