Progressive Breakfast for December 11

Morning Message

Republicans Declare War On Higher Education

The GOP's proposed rewrite of the Higher Education Act will compound the harm done by their tax plan. It further constricts learning opportunities for students, adds to the costs of education, and steers more money to for-profit businesses. If what the House proposes resembles what eventually passes, it will remake higher education along very narrow perceived needs of the “work force.” It’s clear the Republican “war on learning” being waged at all levels of education, doesn't end with the tax bills; it's only just begun.

GOP Barrels Towards Tax Cuts

Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes. WaPo: “Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan. Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate.”

The Myth Of Trumpian Populism

The myth of Trump’s economic populism, as proven by the tax bill. NPR: “Once upon a time, there was a group of conservative intellectuals who were agnostic about Donald Trump. They were not ‘Never Trumpers,’ but they weren’t Trump superfans either. They thought Trumpism might offer something new for the GOP. Since Trump wasn’t tied to the orthodoxies of either party he could, theoretically, offer a more populist path toward the future for Republicans. Conservative writer Henry Olsen, at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, looked to the tax plan to reflect this new vision, but it wasn’t there… But the tax bill ended up instead being traditionally Republican in its focus on cutting taxes for the well-to-do but barely touching the working class and not helping the middle class to a significant degree. ‘That’s not what Trump promised,’ Olsen said. ‘And it’s not what Trump’s voters thought they were getting.'”

EPA Slows Environmental Protection

Under Trump, E.P.A. has slowed actions against polluters. NYT: “Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But as the Trump administration moves from one attention-grabbing headline to the next, it has taken a significant but less-noticed turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws. An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations… The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the E.P.A. during the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. During the first nine months under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the E.P.A. started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under President Barack Obama’s first E.P.A. director and about one-quarter fewer than under President George W. Bush.”

The Warning of Kansas

Kansas’s ravaged economy a cautionary tale as Trump plans huge tax cuts for rich. The Guardian: “Is Donald Trump about to turn America into Kansas? It’s a question some worried people who live in the state are asking as the Republican party pushes through the biggest tax overhaul in a generation – an overhaul that, they claim, bears an uncanny resemblance to a tax plan that left their midwestern home in disarray. After a failed economic experiment meant to boost economic growth blew a hole in the Kansas budget as big as a prairie sky (a $350m deficit in the current fiscal year and nearly $600m in the next) state jobs and services have been slashed.”

More from OurFuture.org:

Offshorers Demand: No Taxes, No Risk. Leo Gerard: “Ford hit Michigan and its auto workers with some crappy holiday news. Instead of building a $700 million electric vehicle factory in Michigan as promised in January, Ford will construct the plant in Mexico. Ford reneged on its promise to Michigan workers just days after the Senate passed a tax plan intended to end levies on corporate profits made at factories offshore – in places like Mexico. News of the letdown also arrived just days before new negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are to begin in Washington, D.C. NAFTA places all of the jeopardy on the shoulders of workers and communities while substantially eliminating normal business risks for corporations. A new NAFTA must prioritize the needs of workers over the demands of corporations.”

Can Democrats Do More to Stop the GOP Tax Cuts? Miles Mogulescu: “Congressional Democrats’ resistance to the tax bill has been tepid, compared to their full-court press against repeal of the ACA. Have Democratic leaders been sending smoke signals to the donor class that they can have their tax cuts? There’s still a little bit of time for the Resistance to focus pressure on Republican Senators to vote against the final bill that comes out of Conference, which is likely to be even more regressive than the initial House and Senate bills. And there’s still time for Congressional Democrats to join them in a massive show of resistance. But the takeaway is that that it’s not enough just to elect the same old Democrats in 2018 and 2020. The Democratic party needs to be reshaped, and party organizations like the DNC needs to be revamped by a younger, more progressive generation.”