Democracy Dies in Darkness

ComPost | Opinion

It was all worth it for this tax reform

September 29, 2017 at 12:40 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), President Trump House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in March. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Tax reform, the party repeated to itself, watching as Donald Trump climbed to the top of the polls and stayed there.

The new senator from Alabama is going to be a stack of Bibles under a black robe that only enforces the law when it feels like it. Shh. Tax reform.

There is an “R” next to his name. That is what counts. There is an “R” next to his name and the “R” means Tax Reform. (“He’s going to be for tax reform, I think,” said Rob Portman, (R-Ohio).) Maybe, once, the “R” meant something else, too. Too hard to remember. What is important is that it will all be worth it for tax reform.

The president is Donald Trump. Donald Trump! You have to keep that fact in mind because it is too startling to have to remember it anew every day. It is fine. There is an “R” next to his name, and you are going to get along and there is going to be tax reform. You must get along. Didn’t he just come out on the wrong side of the Civil War? Shh. Tax reform. Didn’t he blame Puerto Rico for its own hurricane devastation — Shh. Don’t think. Tax reform harder.

There was a time, maybe, when the party was something else. The party of no? No, before that. Was there a before? Abraham Lincoln had been affiliated with it somehow, and — no, that can’t be right. Lincoln was on the other side.

(Over every mirror is a big banner that says “GO GET ‘EM TIGER, GET THAT TAX REFORM!” and it is not because anyone is frightened to look in the mirror and see what they have become. It is just that they are so excited about tax reform.)

Maybe it is better not to remember. Remember this instead: Taxes are bad. Everyone knows this, from the continual complaints of members of the Trump administration who have had to pay them. (At least the expensive planes in the sky full of members of the administration all belong to the right party. That is something.)

Gary Cohn is still here, after everything the president said, even after Charlottesville, and this is what it was all for. A Supreme Court justice and the opportunity to pass this thing called tax reform — less of a tangible thing, really, and more of the idea of tax reform, since it has yet to coalesce into more of a specific plan than a series of bullet points.

Cohn stands on a stage explaining how the middle class may benefit from a tax cut which will give them $1,000, enough to buy — a new car, a new kitchen, or a hip replacement for their dressage horse? Maybe Cohn is not the best messenger for this.

“Our tax plan is aimed at making sure we give middle-class Americans a tax cut,” Cohn is saying. “We are going to give middle-class Americans a tax cut. That is what we are spending all our time on doing.”

Then they’ll all see a tax cut? “I cannot guarantee that.”

It’s fine. Tax reform. This must be tax reform. Anything can be tax reform if you believe in it strongly enough and believe in math weakly enough.

It can’t just be a ridiculous tax cut for the extremely wealthy that is almost certain to increase the deficit. That wouldn’t be worth all that you have gone through. If it were not real tax reform, after everything you have let happen, all the times you have been silent —

No, it is better not to think of all the things that have been done and left undone: the FBI director fired, the nuclear threats, the personal gain, the embarrassments on the international stage. The names. Scaramucci, Bannon. Who are these people? There’s barely a State Department. That’s fine, probably. Hillary Clinton used to run a State Department. And there was something with emails. Jared? No. Hillary. It must have been Hillary. It couldn’t be right otherwise. Your head hurts.

Neil Gorsuch. Tax reform. Shh.

Repeat slowly: We are working well together. The tax reform will be worth it.

You have to believe that. What other beliefs do you have left?

Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences."

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