AltFacts: The Great Trumpini

Like a good magician, Trump has the ability to get people to look down when the important stuff is happening above, or vice-versa. Instinctive, an accidental side-effect of his instability, or a deliberate outgrowth of his reality show-life training? Regardless of how he acquired this trait, he and much of our leadership use it extensively.

Right now, the most important thing going on is not puffery with North Korea (at least, we certainly hope not), allegations around presidential sexual misconduct or plans to issue presidential pardons – they’re quasi-important smoke screens.

While the public, the pundits and the press are trying to chart any kind of true course through the circus-tempest of modern tweet-speed politics, some very self-serving parties are trying to sneak through legislation that will be far more massive and long-lasting than any of the above mentioned debacles (except, maybe, war – but let’s save that for a future column).

It’s not that you haven’t heard about this bill – you doubtless have. But the levels of outrage and opposition it should be inspiring are being seriously tempered by this modern equivalent of bread and circuses: media campaigns with the sexiness of gladiatorial combat that are overshadowing the very unsexy wonkiness of tax code details. It’s a 429-page bill, filled with cross references that call up hundreds of additional pages of detailed tax code – almost no one’s read the whole thing. The major thrusts of it are to undo Obamacare (which polls show most people would rather keep*), to increase the deficit and to reduce corporate taxes (benefiting very few, and arguably hurting far more. This comes down, in many ways, to whether you believe a corporate CEO pays his/her gardener more in a year they made $100 million than in a year they made $60 million. The idea that they’d pay that gardener exactly as little as they needed to, while realistic, is generally ignored by proponents of these trickle-down economic theories that have largely been disproved by other experiments in the modern era. Corporations are created to make money for their stockholders. Not their employees. Not their customers. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

The fact that it’s indefensible and unconscionable is made extra clear by the speed with which its proponents are trying to force it through. They have cobbled together special interest support that won’t last long, and only vested interests could possibly vote for it – someone new and/or reasonable could never be convinced to vote for this thing on its own merits. This isn’t quick-moving congress finally “getting something done,” this is a quick-moving chunk of congress trying to sneak out of your room before you realize they’ve stolen something.

We’ve got foxes in our henhouse, and we’re largely ignoring them because of the loud, braying, rabid orangutan in the farmyard. But at some point, we’re going to want some eggs, and we’ll be in for a big empty surprise.

*According to Gallup Poll: http://news.gallup.com/poll/207671/affordable-care-act-gains-majority-approval-first-time.aspx

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