The Party of Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Resuscitates Limousine Liberal Tropes
“This you?”, as regular users of Twitter know, is a popular retort when a user is brazen in their hypocrisy or unaware of irony.
Besides a heavy sigh and vow to double-down on advocacy for progressive tax policy, it, momentarily, was the only response we could muster in response to tweets last week from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla).
Sen. Cruz last Saturday declared that the GOP “is and should be” the party of the working class. Calling this a fable would be too generous. During the summer, Cruz railed against extending federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, claiming that workers would sit at home. Never mind that this is not how the UI program works or that research shows higher UI benefits do not disincentivize work.
His actions as a senator show disregard for working people and allegiance to the wealthy and powerful. He supports a national right-to-work law, which would further weaken unions. He vehemently supported the 2017 Trump-GOP tax law primarily benefiting the wealthy and corporations, and two years later he demanded that the Treasury Secretary give the wealthy even more tax cuts via executive action. He shows no knowledge of or sympathy for the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. While he tweets, millions of families across the country, including Texans, are relying on food banks to eat and 6.7 million households face eviction after Jan. 1. His party has yet to offer meaningful solutions to these challenges made worse by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
Not to be outdone, Sen. Rubio last week noted that President-elect Biden’s cabinet nominees have strong resumes and are Ivy League educated, as if this is disqualifying. We’ve heard this trope before. A 2018 New Republic article describes the myth of the limousine liberal and the awful truth about right-wing populism. It’s worth reading. Meanwhile, Sen. Rubio underestimated the power of the internet to, in seconds, produce receipts. President Trump bragged about assembling the richest cabinet in history, and a fair share of them have Ivy League degrees. Arguments about which party is more elitist is a canard meant to stoke resentment and steer the conversation away from policy.
For all its rhetoric, the Trump administration squandered what became the longest economic expansion in history. Instead of focusing on policies to shore up working people’s economic well-being, it exacerbated economic inequality by passing a tax law that boosted already profitable corporations’ bottom line (and further enriched the corporate brass and wealthy shareholders) and gave the top 1 percent an average tax cut of $50,000 in the first year of the law.
Expect more double talk from the anti-tax crowd during the first days of the Biden administration. Members of Congress who had no qualms about profligate, deficit-inflating tax cuts for the rich will suddenly want to pinch pennies when it comes to spending on programs that actually help people.
Sens. Cruz and Rubio aren’t powerless. They can use their votes to stand up for workers and families instead of making broad proclamations on Twitter.