Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Can The Toxicity Of Ted Cruz Actually Be Trumpf's GOP Insurance Policy?


At Trumpf's bund rally in South Carolina a few days ago, he Islamophobic remarks got most of the news. But did you miss that he also seems to be coming up with some kind of a plan to "do something" to the Internet? He told his audience of lo-info fans that "We're losing a lot of people because of the Internet. And we have to do something. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them and maybe, in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some ways."

Only Republican politicians are afraid of Trumpf

Did you watch that Maddow video of the South Carolina Know Nothings lined up for the Trumpf rally that we embedded last night? The folks looked really different from the infamous interviews Alexandra Pelosi did with a pack of racist rednecks in Mississippi for Bill Maher a couple years ago. Unlike the Mississippians, the South Carolina Confederates were all dressed stylishly... and had all their teeth. They even looked like Americans-- until they started speaking.

How many progressives-- deep in their hearts-- would like to see all Trumpf supporters in a data base, maybe forced to wear a big "T" around their neck, at all times visible, and permanently barred from possessing firearms or flying on an airplane? But that's not how America works, not how America will ever work... unless someone like Trumpf or Cruz is elected to anything outside of a state like South Carolina, Mississippi or Texas. Texas, where the Republican Party central committee decided against pursuing their plan to hold a secession referendum last weekend. You know how normal states put mimimum wage referendums or medical marijuana referendums on the ballot to increase turn-out? Texas Republicans-- who used to do it with anti-LGBT proposals-- thought a secession referendum on the March primary ballot would get the base out en masse.

As we've been saying for some time now, the Republican Party's cowardly fear the the Trumpish bully is endangering the country. Ironically many in the party establishment fear the likely alternative to Trumpf even more than Trumpf. And Matthew Yglesias explained one of the reasons why: Cruz is even less electable than Trumpf is and is even more likely to trigger a down-ballot catastrophe, catastrophe for them, more like a salvation for America. Yglesias asserts the Cruz is more plausible than Trumpf to get the nomination and more likely than Trumpf to tank the party. He's couldn't be more correct.
People know that Cruz is extreme. But few people fully recognize exactly how unpopular the Cruz policy agenda is likely to be once it is exposed to the light of day.

In an era when no politician of either party wants to cut retirement benefits for current seniors or raise taxes on the middle class, Cruz has quietly stumbled into proposing a gigantic tax increase on middle-class retirees. The media hasn't noticed yet, and liberal groups don't seem all that eager to point it out-- perhaps because they're hoping to save their ammunition until after Cruz is actually the nominee. Cruz's appeal is rooted in his deep understanding of the GOP base and sophisticated grasp of the modern media landscape. But he's never run in a meaningfully contested general election of any kind, and trying to do so on an anti–middle class, anti-elderly policy agenda is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.

If you're not paying close attention, Cruz's tax plan can just look like a more extreme version of every other Republican tax plan — a big, budget-busting tax cut for the wealthy. But in reality, it contains an idea so obviously politically toxic that his entire agenda for selling it seems to be to obscure the fact that he's proposing it.

But let's be clear: Cruz is calling for a 19 percent federal sales tax that would apply to all purchases of goods and services made in the United States. This is possibly the single least voter-friendly idea one could imagine.

It's so toxic that he doesn't call it a 19 percent federal sales tax at all.

"For businesses, the corporate income tax will be eliminated," Cruz writes on his website. "It will be replaced by a simple Business Flat Tax at a single 16 percent rate."

This sounds like Cruz is calling for the replacement of the current loophole-ridden corporate income tax with a new flat corporate income tax featuring a broader base and a lower rate. But that's not what Cruz is proposing at all. His "business flat tax" is a sales tax, not a corporate income. And it's a 19 percent sales tax, not a 16 percent one.

The Tax Foundation, a center-right think tank that believes in giving conservative tax plans extremely generous "dynamic" scores, explains that Cruz's business tax is "often known as a subtraction-method value-added tax" and "its base is identical in economic terms to that of the credit-invoice VAT seen in many OECD countries."

...Why does Cruz say he has a 16 percent tax but I say he has a 19 percent tax? For that, let's return to the Tax Foundation. The foundation explains in a footnote that Cruz is specifying his 16 percent tax rate "in tax-inclusive terms."

That means that under the Cruz plan, something that costs $1 today would start to cost $1.19.

The way we normally talk about taxes in the United States, that is a 19 percent tax.

What Cruz wants to say is that it's really a 16 percent tax, since 19 cents (the tax) is 16 percent of the $1.19 total price paid. This is how some European governments characterize their tax system, because it makes high European taxes sound relatively low. It's a bit ironic to see an extremely American politician pulling out this trick, but this is still the United States of America, and Cruz is talking about a 19 percent tax.

...Republicans concerned about Donald Trump's electability might also want to note that:
• In April, Cruz proposed to amend the Constitution to bar same-sex marriages.

• In 2012, Cruz ran 1 percentage point behind Mitt Romney in Texas, even though the Democratic Party barely managed to field a nominee.

• Cruz favors a return to the gold standard.

• By quantitative measures of ideology, Cruz would be the most conservative GOP nominee of all time-- a bit to the right of Barry Goldwater, who got 38 percent.

• Cruz thinks Plan B emergency contraceptives are a form of abortion, and, of course, he thinks abortion should be illegal.
A year ago, the fundamentally unelectable nature of Cruz was well-understood, and it was universally believed that for that reason the Republican establishment would never let him win. Trump's rapid rise and astonishing resilience have called into question the establishment's ability to actually control events. But Trump has also created a gravitational distortion in how we view the candidates. Cruz's résumé-- which includes winning an actual Senate election, plus experience in jobs in the federal judiciary and state government-- looks downright conventional by comparison.

But conventional isn't the same as electable by any means. Trump's actual policy positions are generally more moderate than Cruz's, and his support within the GOP primary electorate does not look particularly ideological. Trump as nominee would certainly be a risky (and probably disastrous) leap into the unknown. But Cruz as nominee would be a leap into something we've actually seen quite clearly before in 1964 and 1972-- a factional candidacy by a senator from the fringe of his own party caucus who gets drubbed on Election Day.
The Rahm Emanuel/Chris Van Hollen/Steve Israel DCCC strategy will keep the Republicans in power in the House no matter how badly Cruz (or Trumpf) does in the general. But if either of them winds up with the Goldwater 38% number... likely senators to be looking for jobs on K Street would include Pat Toomey (PA), Ron Johnson (WI-- actually he's going to lose anyway and he doesn't need a job because he's so stinking rich), Mark Kirk (IL), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Rob Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Chuck Grassley (IA), Richard Burr (NC). Below that Goldwater number and there could also be, despite abysmal DSCC recruiting ion a par with the DCCC's, Democratic senators from Indiana, Arizona Kentucky, and Arkansas. Well... maybe not Arkansas.

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At 6:57 PM, Blogger Pats said...

Yeah, but Grassley is 82. One would hope he will retire soon.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toxicity? Trumpf/Cruz?

Ultimately, it could well be Cruz's toxicity that secures the nomination for Hair Trumpf.

John Puma

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... OR, vice-versa.


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cruz would be getting too exposed without The Donald to hide behind. If Trump does fall out of the race (at least as a Republican), Cruz will be the one being assaulted by his own party, since one can't call the Majority Leader a liar on the floor of the Senate without being punished for it.


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