Why Roy Moore and Tax Cuts Matter
Turn on the news to hear about the latest powerful man, almost to a man Democrats, accused of sexual misconduct. Hollywood moguls and actors, media political commentators, and now elected officials. The sole accused Republican, however, seems to be garnering the most attention: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
After the smart-set cable news panels play compare and contrast between Roy Moore and Al Franken, they pivot to the Republican tax cut plans, currently limping through Congress. Democrats trot out their hackneyed “tax cuts for the rich” mantra despite marginal tax rates staying put under both House and Senate plans.
What do these two current events have in common? Roy Moore isn’t in the Senate yet and can’t vote on tax cuts. Yet these two unconnected issues are a pivotal moment for the GOP. Will it be their Waterloo or their Yorktown? Defeat or victory?
Roy Moore is clearly unpopular with Democrats. Yet the Republican establishment doesn’t want him either. Ask Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, John McCain or Cory Gardner. He’s another Donald Trump, opposed by the establishments of both parties, but perhaps not by the voters. The same pollsters predicting Moore crashing and burning also predicted a Clinton landslide victory. We know how that turned out.
What happens if he does lose? Moore would be a solid Republican vote in a closely divided Senate. Without him, the Senate would be one seat closer to a Democrat majority.
Tax cuts are a no brainer. A perennial GOP campaign promise. But so was repealing Obamacare, building the wall, shrinking government and enforcing immigration law. Now almost one year into the GOP’s once-in-a-generation control of Congress and the White House, little has happened.
Congress is incapable or unwilling to act on any of President Trump’s signature campaign issues. Which most Republicans also campaigned on, but once elected, are running away from. All to hurt Trump and his agenda. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The House passed a tax cut in name only, buying into Democrat talking points of it being a “tax cut for the rich,” which it’s not. Unlike a real Reagan style tax cut, the GOP proposals are nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Senate is dithering, defections looming. Senator Ron Johnson is willing to scrap it all over a single provision he opposes. Flake, McCain and Corker may vote no just to spite the President. What do they care? They are on their way out, one way or another.
This may be the last chance for the GOP. If they don’t pass a meaningful tax cut by Christmas, it’s on to campaign season. Legislation will cease. They can run on their lack of accomplishment and squandered opportunities. How will that play with the GOP electorate?
Republican voters are likely to stay home next November. They won’t vote for Democrats, but instead will throw up their hands in exasperation. Why bother voting for a party that accomplishes nothing, despite all their promises and big talk?
How easy it would have been for Republicans to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes and build the wall. They would have controlled Congress for a generation. Leaving the Democrats wandering in the wilderness. A lost opportunity for the GOP.
Elections have consequences. Suppose the House flips to Democrat control? If it does, you can bet that they will vote to impeach President Trump on day one. Articles of impeachment, however nonsensical, have already been drawn up.
Unlike the Republicans who promised to repeal Obamacare on day one, the Democrats won’t dither. This will be a campaign promise the Democrats will honor. Before the end of January 2018, the Senate will be gearing up for an impeachment trial.
Will the Senate flip? Less likely but every seat counts, even in Alabama.
Two-thirds of the Senate must convict and remove a president. Which is why every vote matters. Even Roy Moore’s. It’s not inconceivable to find 15-20 NeverTrump GOP Senators voting to remove Trump from the White House. McCain, if healthy enough, would vote that way. Moore would not. His current electoral opponent Doug Jones undoubtedly would.
The Senate trial would drag on, much like the Robert Mueller Russia collusion investigation, casting a cloud over the White House and any Trump initiatives.
Even if not removed from office, Trump’s term would effectively be over. Judicial appointments, especially to the Supreme Court would be held up under the premise that a president who may soon be removed from office shouldn’t be making lifetime appointments to the bench. Same with any significant legislation. Trump would be placed in a box that even his force of personality couldn’t overcome.
Could an impeached President Trump win a second term? Would he even try? Why would he bother? Who follows Trump? Third time’s the charm for Hillary? Handsy Joe Biden? Al Franken, if he skates on his predatory activities as Bill Clinton did? Pocahontas Warren?
This is make or break time for the GOP. Can they get their act together and get something done after a year of shooting blanks? Will the GOP work to defeat Roy Moore over 40-year-old dodgy allegations? Giving another Senate seat to the Democrats?
Is this how the GOP wants things to play out? Incompetence or deliberate? If tax cuts crash and burn like everything else this year, I will conclude that this is deliberate. It’s not hard to figure out. If I get it, surely lifetime members of Congress see it too.
Are Republicans so blinded by hatred of the outsider Donald Trump that they are willing to crash their party, and the country, just to keep teach uppity outsiders a lesson and keep their donors happy? We should have our answer in the next few weeks.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.