New York Times op-ed: Reagan’s ‘Party of Ideas’ Is Down to Just One: Tax Cuts, by Mike Lofgren (author, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2017)):
It is a sign of our slide toward banana republic status when the president of the United States, leader of the world’s foremost democracy, publicly brands Democrats who failed to applaud his State of the Union address as un-American and treasonous. The largely partisan audience was fine with it.
What has become of the Republican Party, which I once served on Capitol Hill and which I now consider a dangerous extremist movement on a par with the ruling Fidesz party in neo-fascist Hungary? Where did its principles go? What became of Ronald Reagan’s “party of ideas”?
One by one, those ideas were tossed aside for expediency and power — except the tax cut. A time traveler from the Reagan era would no longer recognize the Republican Party, but most Republican politicians feel no embarrassment supporting policies they once condemned. ...
Under Mr. Trump, who has extolled leveraging other people’s money while declaring that debt is good, the party is no longer even half pregnant. His tax act, passed exclusively with Republican votes in both the House and the Senate, increases the national debt by over a trillion dollars and awards 62 percent of its monetary benefits to the richest 1 percent of Americans.
Paul Ryan, the House speaker, sees the tax act as a bonanza for the working stiff: He tweeted that a public school secretary would see a whopping $1.50 a week extra in her paycheck. It’s touching that the secretary can now afford an extra McDonald’s coffee every week, but the deficit, thanks partly to the tax cut, is projected after years of decline to explode to a trillion dollars annually.
Tax cuts, regardless of the deficit, are an obsession with Republicans and a source of shameless hypocrisy. During the recent shutdown crisis, the House Freedom Caucus balked at a deal to avert an impasse because it contained additional domestic spending, while in the Senate, Rand Paul of Kentucky held up the vote because the spending creates debt that threatens “the livelihoods of our children.” Yet the senator and every single Freedom Caucus member enthusiastically had voted only a few weeks before for a fiscally irresponsible tax bill. ...
[W]hat do Republicans have left? The tax cut, the sole important legislation from the Republican Congress, shows that catering to its rich contributors is the party’s only policy. The rest of its agenda is simply tactics and trickery.