Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Trump May Be Setting The GOP 2016 Agenda On Racism... But Not On Economic Issues, At Least Not So Far


Over the weekend Trump was in Nashville, where he promised his cheering fans that he would protect their Social Security and Medicare without cutting benefits. That isn't as powerful as Bernie Sanders' laying out the details of how he plans to expand benefits... but it's a LOT better than any of the other Republican presidential contenders, who seem to have convinced themselves that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and that Medicare needs to be, in Jeb Bush's words, "phased out."

So if the entire GOP field is happy to follow Trump down the rabbit hole of racism and bigotry-- tripping over themselves to see who is most boisterous in alienating Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans-- why are none of the candidates following his lead on the rudimentary economic populism he's starting to espouse? I don't hear any of them agreeing with him that predatory hedge-fund managers, for example, ought to pay their fair share of taxes.

As we saw Sunday, Trump has been making noises about taxing the rich and ending all the nonsense about trickle-down economics and how job creators shouldn't be taxed. Trump told Bloomberg reporters that he "would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous. I want to lower taxes for the middle class." Republican propagandist David Frum seemed to approve when he followed the news about the Nashville speech by tweeting: "Think of the Trump candidacy as the shock therapy the GOP needs to jolt it away from the Ayn Rand fantasies of past 2 cycles."

Well... nothing is going to jolt Randian worshipers like Scott Walker, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz away from their twisted ideological claptrap about how the economy in the real world works. In their weekend magazine edition Sunday, Politico reiterated that Trump is setting the GOP agenda and that "every Republican presidential contender is playing Trump's game." Yes, they are all getting nastier and more juvenile in their attacks on each other, and yes, they are all appealing to nativist and overtly racist and Know-Nothing segments of the party's ugly base. But again, when it comes to the populist themes that fly in the face of GOP dogma, which Trump is starting to explore... crickets.

"Practically every candidate in the race is now engaging in and losing a war of insults, aping Trump’s issue agenda and in some instances pilfering his best lines." Yeah, yeah... we know Scott Walker is a monkey dressed up in a suit and that "of all the candidates seeking to replicate Trump, Bush has performed the worst."
Contradicting its week-old vow to not “uncork money on Donald Trump,” the Right to Rise PAC paid for a plane to buzz over Trump’s mammoth Alabama rally with the idea of mocking him. Instead the sad and puttering two-seater provided an unintentional metaphor against Trump’s gold-plated jumbo jet of a campaign.

After that, Jeb followed Trump down to the Mexican border simultaneously attacking Trump and emulating him. Which turned out to be an even bigger mistake.

For days now, Jeb has tried to explain his use of the term “anchor babies” to describe the American-born children of illegal immigrants. This purportedly offended someone somewhere-- and Bush has been apologizing and yet not apologizing for it ever since. His first defense was that he wasn’t impugning Hispanics, but Asians because, as columnist Matt Bai noted, “what Republicans really need right now is another massive nonwhite segment of society that won’t vote for them.”

The fracas exposed the stark difference between the two men, their campaigns, their poll numbers. While Trump’s response to critics of the term was basically a two-word sentence that starts with an F, poor Jeb was left to implore a reporter, “You give me a better term and I’ll use it.” Another statement that, thanks to Trump, will follow Bush all the way through the general election, should he ever make it that far.
The shallow horse-race coverage from Politico-- utterly issue-free-- is not limited to Politico. It's the state of the coverage from Beltway media. But again, not a word in the long silly article about any of the populist themes Trump is talking about. 

In March, the Pew Research Center looked at how Americans view the tax system. Maybe Trump was the only Republican candidate to bother reading it. Voters feel-- overwhelmingly-- that corporations and the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes.
The public sees the nation’s tax system as deeply flawed: 59% say “there is so much wrong with the federal tax system that Congress should completely change it.” Just 38% think the system “works pretty well” and requires “only minor changes.” These opinions have changed little since 2011.

...Just 27% are bothered “a lot” by the amount they pay in taxes. By contrast, 64% say they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, and 61% say the same about some wealthy people failing to pay their fair share. In views of other aspects of the tax system, 44% say they are bothered a lot by the complexity of the system, while just 20% are bothered a great deal by the feeling that some poor people are not paying their fair share of taxes.

...[T]here is a widening partisan gap in several public attitudes about the federal tax system. Today, Republicans are 20 points more likely than Democrats to say they are paying more than their fair share in taxes (50% vs. 30%). In the 2011 survey, nearly identical percentages of Republicans (37%) and Democrats (38%) said they were paying more than their fair share.

...Frustration with the feeling that some corporations and wealthy people do not pay their fair share of taxes is shared widely across demographic and partisan groups. Fully 75% of Democrats are bothered a lot by the feeling that corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, and 72% say the same about wealthy people not paying their fair share.

Fewer Republicans are bothered a lot by some corporations (52%) and wealthy people (45%) not paying their fair share. Still, these rank among the Republicans’ top concerns among five items tested... Majorities across income categories express irritation over the prospect of wealthy people and corporations not paying their fair share in taxes.

Another Republican Party propagandist, Byron York, has an interesting explanation for why the GOP Establishment is so freaked out by Trump. His take on key issues-- and Republican Party orthodoxy-- is far more popular than theirs, since his comes from polling and theirs comes from the few hundred wealthiest families in America.
First Donald Trump antagonized the Republican establishment with his proposals on immigration. Then he irritated some with his stands on trade and Social Security. Now Trump is preparing a tax proposal that will again set him far apart from the party's powers-that-be.

The problem for the establishment is that Trump's positions on all three issues are more in line with the majority of American voters than the establishment's preferred policies. By using his popularity to force outside-the-GOP-box ideas into the Republican presidential debate, Trump is displaying an uncanny sense of the divisions between voters and the GOP power structure.

Trump has been sending signals that his tax proposal, which he says will be "comprehensive," will include higher rates for some of the richest Americans, a position generally at odds with Republican orthodoxy. "I want to see lower taxes," Trump said at an appearance in Norwood, Mass., on Friday night. "But on some people, they're not doing their fair share."

...[I]t seems unlikely Trump's tax-the-super-rich proposal will hurt him with large numbers of voters, certainly not with general-election voters. But what about Republican primary voters specifically? It's unclear, but a recent CNN poll showed that by a large margin, GOP voters believe Trump is best equipped to handle the economy-- 45 percent of those surveyed chose Trump, compared to the second-place finisher, Jeb Bush, with eight percent... Dismissed as a "clown" and a "buffoon," Trump has throughout the race shown a shrewd sense of the Republican establishment's weaknesses with its voters. And now, he appears to be ready to challenge GOP orthodoxy one more time.
Jeb's SuperPAC went after Trump this morning with an explosive new video that should draw blood-- and a response:

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At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The shallow horse-race coverage from Politico-- utterly issue-free-- is not limited to Politico. It's the state of the coverage from Beltway media. But again, not a word in the long silly article about any of the populist themes Trump is talking about."

You can't possibly be surprised by this, especially from a WaPoCo. 'Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor' is their raison d'être.


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