Why Democrats have had so much trouble mounting an effective opposition to the GOP tax bill

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
There’s plenty in the tax bill for Democrats to hammer away at, but that’s part of the problem: the tax overhaul could change not just how Americans file their taxes but how they receive health care, go to school, and access other critical social services.

In Washington, Republicans are closing in on passage of the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in a generation, and to Democrats and progressive activists, it seems clear the tax train is almost certain to reach its destination, no matter how hard they try to stop it.

Just since the beginning of November, Republicans have introduced legislation to overhaul the tax system, considered amendments to that legislation, secured passage in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then met to hash out the differences between the two chambers’ bills. It could be signed into law as early as Wednesday.

The abbreviated tax fight has been a particularly frustrating one for Democratic politicians and activists, who have spent the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency finding success in blocking parts of the GOP agenda, particularly the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans have managed to move at high speed without a single Democratic vote, as Democratic lawmakers, even those up for reelection in states won by Trump, steer clear of the bills.

Growing worry among Republicans over the lack of a signature legislative achievement in 2017, combined with a broadly and deeply shared political imperative to cut taxes, have fueled Republicans’ rush to pass a tax bill. They have rapidly put aside their policy differences to ensure that a tax cut for corporations and individuals with a $1.4 trillion price tag can become law by the end of the year.

Even the truest believers among the progressive grassroots concede that stopping the GOP tax plan now will be a difficult lift.

A bit more delayed, and a little less direct

On a frigid December day, a crowd of activists opposed to the GOP tax plan assembled at the east front of the U.S. Capitol, making an 11th-hour plea to Congress to throw the brakes on the legislation.

“Why are you so quiet?” an organizer shouted to the crowd bundled in hats and hand-warmers. “Let’s do some chanting!”

The chants, signs, and speeches at the rally — organized by an anti-tax bill coalition called Not One Penny — illustrate some of the challenges Democrats have faced in countering the Republican tax push.

Protesters chanted about how the bill would hurt education and Medicare, they held signs calling out tax breaks for the wealthy and what the bill could do to hurt the Affordable Care Act.

There’s plenty in the tax bill for Democrats to hammer away at, but that’s part of the problem: the tax overhaul could change not just how Americans file their taxes but how they receive health care, go to school, and access other critical social services. It’s a pitch that’s more complicated, Democrats say, than urging people to oppose a bill that would end a single established program like Obamacare.

Washington Democrats believe they have found success in persuading the public that the tax plan will largely benefit the wealthy, as opposed to the middle and working-class people that Trump and GOP leadership have tried to sway. Polling on the bill backs that up: a recent poll from Harvard University found 64 percent of Americans opposed to the legislation.

At the same time, the complexity of the tax code — and a legislative process in which specific details about elements of the bill remain opaque just days before the president could sign it — have created challenges that have made it harder for progressives to rally opposition to the bill.

Fifth District DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said it’s harder to evoke an “emotional response” on taxes than on an issue like health care, on which Democrats found a lot of success.

“So you tell somebody they’re taking away your health care, and people’s minds automatically go to their own cancer, or their loved ones,” Ellison said. “It’s very personal. Whereas the tax thing is a bit theoretical — like, if they do this, it’s going to cause greater income inequality, and down the line, it’s going to make every working-class person’s life worse.”

“Even though it’s deadly, it’s a little bit more delayed and it’s a little less direct.”

That sentiment is shared among grassroots progressives: Jena Martin, co-chair of the chapter of anti-Trump group Indivisible in the 3rd Congressional District, described the effort to organize against the tax bill as more difficult than their effort against the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“I think health care is complicated too, but it’s easier to boil it down to a soundbite,” Martin said. She described her group’s efforts to organize demonstrations at the office of 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen, calls to members of Congress, and something she called a “poetry slam” in opposition to the tax bill.

“We’re still trying to do creative things and highlight the doublespeak [Republicans] use around the issue,” Martin said. She maintained that many activists remain enthusiastic, but conceded they are worn down after a busy year of protesting and organizing on health care, Trump’s travel ban, and other things.

“I feel like they’re trying to grind people down,” she said.

Some in Democratic offices say fewer calls are coming in from constituents on the tax issue, as compared to the deluge of hundreds of thousands of calls they received urging no votes on the Republican health care bills.

A foregone conclusion

To 8th District DFL Rep. Rick Nolan, stopping tax legislation was always going to be hard: it’s the main issue on which a fractious Republican Party can find common ground.

“I don’t think that there’s anything that’s going to stop this,” Nolan told MinnPost. “I’ve never seen anything that motivates Republicans more than a tax cut for their rich friends… It’s going to happen, one way or the other, and I think that’s a travesty.”

Nolan says he senses the same level of awareness and concern with the tax issue as with health care . “But I think people are viewing it as a foregone conclusion with Trump and the Republicans in control,” he added.

Republican members, though confident in their bill, were more reluctant to forecast a win. Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer, speaking with MinnPost on Thursday, did not want to say much about the tax bill and its chances of passage until a final agreement between House and Senate lawmakers was unveiled .

“I want to see the conference report,” Emmer said. “Generally, I like where they’re headed, but I want to see the detail.” He added that he believes Republican leadership is confident they can iron out the details, and affirmed the need to pass the bill by the end of the year.

“People gotta plan for 2018,” he said. “Regardless of what the politicians think, it’s about the American people and their planning for their families, their business opportunities. I think we owe it to them to get it done.”

On the left, there’s still some hope that the tax push could fall apart, and activists plan to keep up the pressure.

Tim Hogan, a spokesperson for the Not One Penny group that organized the Capitol rally, says that over 1.2 million phone calls have been made to members of Congress since October 1 to urge “no” votes on tax legislation.

He says that activists are hopeful there’s still time to stop it. “There were days we woke up during the fight to preserve the ACA from being repealed when we thought we’d lose that day, no question,” he says.

“We are not taking anything for granted. It is a huge uphill battle. With the energy we’ve seen from the grassroots, we’re going to keep the pressure on.”

But if Republicans do pass the bill, and Trump delivers the great, big Christmas gift he promised, Democrats are already seeing a silver lining: significant blowback against the GOP in next year’s midterms.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, circulated polling on Thursday claiming that the Republican “tax scam bill,” as Democrats have branded it, will make incumbent Republicans more vulnerable in the midterms.

“We’re going to keep on fighting this thing until the end,” Ellison said, “but if this tax bill passes, we’re going to hang it around their neck… If they do it, they’re going to own it, we’re going to stuff it in their pocket and make sure everyone knows who it is that hurt our economy.”

Nolan said once the reality of the tax bill kicks in, it will hurt Republicans dramatically in 2018.

“I think it’s going to put Democrats back in the majority in the House of Representatives.”

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Comments (50)

  1. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 12/15/2017 - 12:00 pm.

    How does a minority party stop this

    You’re wondering why the Dems can’t stop this tragedy in the making for everyone but the wealthy, when they’re in the minority and are ALL opposing it?
    Maybe we should be talking about the control the wealthy have today in our congress instead of why a minority party can’t stop this horrific bill?
    We heard repubs during the 8 Obama years complaining about the deficit…that they gave us from the inept bush/repub years…and now they’re planning a tax cut that will worsen the deficit…but the chance for 3 repubs to oppose it…isn’t happening…and you’re putting this on the Dems?

  2. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/15/2017 - 12:19 pm.


    Democrats cannot muster any serious energy against this, because they have no economic ideas that would actually improve things for the working or middle class, having long ago sold their soul to globalist finance, corporations and billionaires.

    Citigroup was given a superdelegate designation by the “new” DNC. Anyone who thinks DNC elite are fundamentally against this tax giveaway are deluding themselves. They have been told by their donors, only token resistance will do.

    Meanwhile, Rep Nolan, like a good Democrat, is busy selling out Northern Minnesota to foreign corporations. Which is precisely why people are resigned to this, because deep down they know, Dems are not a real alternative economically.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/15/2017 - 02:25 pm.

      Spoken with true privilege

      The millions of people who gained access to healthcare under Democratic rule, and will lose it under Republican rule will tell you that the economic ideas make a difference. Its life and death for some of these people. The tax bill being passed by Republicans is a huge redistribution of wealth toward the rich. Unions. Net neutrality. Immigration. Gay rights. The differences between Republicans and Democrats on these issues are vast, and will have real, tangible impacts on the lives of a lot of people. To say that the the Democrats are not a real alternative economically just demonstrates the privilege you have and how you view the world. Lucky for you. Not so lucky for those people for whom the differences really matter. But you stick with your narrative.

      I don’t like Nolan’s mining position, but he is doing it because its what his constituents want. It sounds terrible when you live in a district that voted for Keith Ellison, but when you represent a largely rural district that largely voted for Trump, those are tough choices. And you are out of your mind if you think there isn’t a huge difference between Nolan on mining and what the Republican alternative would be.

      • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 12/15/2017 - 05:07 pm.

        Add more

        Many measures that Republicans could not pass were successfully enacted under Bill Clinton. NAFTA, which destroyed many union jobs, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that has led to consolidation with 6 corporations controlling 90% of the news market, repeal of Glass Steagall that helped lead to the crash of 2008, the Crime Bill of 1994, Welfare reform in 1996. According to author Thomas Frank, Clinton and Newt Gingrich had an agreement to reform Social Security and Medicare before the Lewinsky scandal.
        After the 2016 election Democrats continued with Pelosi and Schumer as leaders simply because they could raise corporate cash, not because of any outstanding principles or messages. In fact, Pelosi has publicly opposed Medicare for all. The ineptitude of corporate Democrats and lack of concern for many Americans is what gave us Donald Trump. Thomas Frank’s book, “Listen Liberal” sums up well the problems with the Democratic Party.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/15/2017 - 09:04 pm.

        It’s interesting that your second paragraph contradicts the first. You said that Nolan has to listen to his voters and support what they want and it is difficult to understand it from the district that elected Ellison. This is, of course, very true. But that is what happened in general elections last year: Democrats from liberal coasts and liberal big cities didn’t understand what people in the rest of the country wanted (and you are correct, it was not, for most part, economic anxiety) but Trump did. People really don’t care much about net neutrality (most don’t know what it is) and gay rights but they do not want illegal immigration… Welcome to Trump’s presidency.

        • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 12/17/2017 - 12:28 am.


          “People really don’t care much about net neutrality.” Just because the mainstream corporate media has not given much attention to the subject does not mean that there is not opposition. Many people, including members of both parties in Congress, voiced opposition to Pai’s decision.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/17/2017 - 09:49 pm.

            Actually, the media is giving it too much attention… more than it deserves. After all, it didn’t exist until 2015.

            • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/18/2017 - 07:53 am.

              Narrow Veiw

              Net neutrality has been around more than two years. Other countries were just ahead of us. (Though they are probably just socialist hell holes, like South Korea and Japan.)

              By your odd standard (things not in existence before 2015), the Don Trump Administration is unimportant.

            • Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/18/2017 - 01:06 pm.

              What planet are you from, really?

              The U.S. government developed — and taxpayers paid for — the development of the internet and then “released it” to the (entire) public (and, as far as that goes, entire world).

              The internet is one of the most profound communications developments in the history of the planet — at least as profound and important as the invention of the printing press, radio, the telephone and television.

              And now, 30 or 40 years after that initial and very expensive research and development, release, further development (by people from all over the globe, some paid, many not) and working out of most of the “first stage” kinks, the “American Private Business Sector” — the same people who have given us that marvel of Private Sector Brilliance and Competence known as the American Health Care Industry — are being handed OWNERSHIP of it.

              In case you missed it, what that boils down to is four or five Private Entities (with horrendous business track records that involve all KINDS of maximized consumer gouging) being handed control of one of the most powerful communications vehicles ever created.

              And you think that prospect is some kind of yawner that media has been covering too much and you think people are overreacting and unduly concerned?

              As usual, weirdly amazing.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/15/2017 - 01:22 pm.

    This is what we’ve trying to tell Democrats

    The problem with neoliberal Clintonesque control of the Democratic Party for the last several decades has been it’s “centrist” formula that made a clear liberal agenda impossible. They go from election to election cycle winning and losing elections without coalescing into any kind of permanent direction or movement. Very effective liberal agendas exist, and have been around for decades, Democrats simply reject them as: “leftist”.

    So what happens, and we’ve seen this several times before in the last few decades, is Republicans implode under the weight of their own magical thinking, and Democrats get caught flat footed, win a few elections, pat themselves on the back as genius’s… and then loose again.

    Truly successful political parties have clear agenda’s voters can rally behind. Democrats need a clear liberal agenda because we already have on Republican Party… you’d think they’da figured that out… back in the 70s. Democrats are complacent because no matter what happens their always one of two parties… they don’t need a clear agenda to get on the ballot, and that’s the problem.

    So, yes, once again Democrats are caught flat footed in the midst of a Republican melt down because they don’t have a liberal agenda to plug the narrative into. The Sanders’s wing obviously has a compelling narrative that got voters energized to plug into… but Democrat’s appear to be refusing to embrace it.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/15/2017 - 02:14 pm.


      If the Sanders wing was so compelling and got voters so energized, why did Sanders lose by millions of votes to a crummy candidate like Clinton? Why, when actually put to a vote, did voters in Colorado overwhelmingly reject single-payer healthcare? There is this fantasy that this country is secretly progressive, and it just isn’t true.

      Sanders, who is one of the most fundamentally dishonest politicians in America, keeps pushing the false narrative that it was economic anxiety of the white working class that drove Trump’s election, even though it has been repeatedly disproven.

      Democrats reject the “leftist” agenda because voters don’t want it. Because you can’t win elections in all but the most liberal places in America with an agenda that is too far left.

      • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 12/16/2017 - 08:53 am.

        The Truth Hurts

        Just as conservatives can carry a primary but not the general without moderate support, Democrats like Clinton can win primaries every time but cannot carry a general without a distinctive agenda that attracts new voters and can retain their base.

        There was plenty of evidence that economic anxieties like NAFTA, H1 visa that drove many Dem and other voters to stay home and others to jump to Trump that cost the elections int the Great Lakes states. They simply trusted the leftist Sanders more than the “everything” Clinton.

        So sure the usual coalition of unions, minorities is going to win you the primaries. But when you have no actual ideas progressive or not, your just stuck in neutral.




      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/16/2017 - 09:27 am.

        Centrism has been and incoherent disaster for Dems

        Triangulating the “center” has been a clear disaster for Democrats and the Nation. Half measures, watered down Republican policies, and status quo preserving mediocrity have made Republicans the most powerful Political Party in America… despite themselves. Worse, centrism has left the Nation decades behind where it should be on a whole host of policies and projects ranging from transit to education.

        It’s not about being “leftist”, it about being right, as in “correct”. You don’t promote liberal agendas simply because they’re liberal, you promote them because they work and they’re the best solution. If you water down living wages… they’re not living wages. If you water down universal health care… it’ not universal health care. Stimulus packages that are half the size they should be… don’t stimulate. Policies that don’t do what they’re supposed to do are failures. Democrats have been colluding with Republicans and delivering one fail after another for decades, every liberal agenda from equal rights to environmentalism has stalled and is now actually being rolled back, and the people who brought us this fail… are still trying to pretend that they’re the only adults in the room.

        These Democrats that keep rejecting liberal policies and agendas are simply not liberals. You can be whatever you be in this world but don’t pretend to be something your not, as with Clinton when she describes herself as a: “progressive”.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/15/2017 - 02:01 pm.


    The tax bill will pass without a single Democratic vote, nor a single hearing, having been negotiated in back rooms with no testimony, and a host of magical promises. This tax bill will actually be another nail in the coffin for Republicans in the next election cycle and it’s provisions can be repealed. I’m not sure the Democrats actually had to oppose it effectively, it’s passage should be a free gift.

    What Democrats do need to do is have an agenda ready to go, and campaign on that clearly identifies all of these toxic Republican fantasies and offers a clear, truly popular alternative.

  5. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/15/2017 - 03:26 pm.

    Democrats don’t need an agenda–they already have that–they need a narrative and the rhetoric to articulate it to the public without a lot of nerdy details. The voters at large want a clear story.

    Trump won on slogans, on repeatable short thoughts or phrases that could be shouted in unison. Democrats need someone with the oratorical skills of Hubert Humphrey, to get the more-caring, equalizing program across to people.

    One of the great problems Hillary Clinton had (that her husband did NOT have–he’s the talker in the family) is that she went policy-wonk on us all the time. She had a clunky campaign slogan, and instead of trying to get voters to join in, she tried to teach them all about this topic or that problem.

    Clinton had no story to tell the public. Whereas Trump had a dog-whistled message of racism, division, and hatred (including of women, that even women bought), all based on fear that this fear-ridden bully has at his core. People got that fear, which echoed their own.

    Democrats have to decide what story of America is theirs, and then tell it, repeat it, declaim it to the skies. Americans may be more hungry for hope

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/15/2017 - 05:35 pm.

      Tell Me a Story

      Storytelling is essential to winning in politics. You can’t win without it.

      When progressive groups started door knocking about the voter suppression amendment, the talked about the thousands of Minnesotans who it would effect. The statistics went in one ear and out the other.

      The plan was reworked, and the outreached turned to telling stories. Stories about how it would affect the grandmother in a nursing home who didn’t drive or write checks anymore. About a cousin or sister serving overseas in the military, who would not be able to vote absentee, despite defending democracy and, ironically, the right to vote. Listeners realized it would affect their own family and friends, not just some abstract numbers.

      Facts, data, and science are essential for informed decisions. Storytelling is essential to illustrate facts, data, and science.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/16/2017 - 09:05 am.

      Narratives have to be woven into agendas

      In politics narratives are just stories without agendas, and stories alone don’t motivate voters. Trump narrative WAS compelling because it promoted a populist agenda that appealed to enough voters.

      The Democrats don’t have a clear agenda beyond not being Republicans, that’s why they’ve had so much trouble connecting with voters. If you read Hillary’s book, one thing that stands out over and over again is the fact that she simply can’t understand why simply being Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough to energize voters.

  6. Submitted by Mike Downing on 12/15/2017 - 08:33 pm.

    Opposing giving people more of their own money…

    Yes, it is hard to oppose letting people keep more of their own money when Democratic values are to increase taxes and increase spending.

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 12/18/2017 - 08:49 am.

      The big republican lie

      The poor and the middle class will become rich from this tax cut. What a joke!

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 12/21/2017 - 08:52 am.

        where has that ever been said by anyone?

        What will happen is people who work will get to keep more of their money. It won’t make them rich but it has the potential to make a big difference in their lives. The idea that saving a family $2000 a year in taxes is small potatoes compared to what the feds could do with it is so insulting on so many levels.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/21/2017 - 10:42 am.

          It’s $167 a month

          One trip to the grocery store, a few tanks of gas, part of a cell phone bill, part of a utility bill. It IS small potatoes. Not only will it not make anyone rich, it will do nothing to make the conservative promise of an economic “boom” a reality. There is no pent-up demand released by $167 dollars a month, and as such no increased need for additional workers (or increased wages) in any other sector of the economy. Its simply a sop to try and make the little people forget that their “betters” WILL be made rich by THEIR tax cuts.

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 12/15/2017 - 08:46 pm.

    The simple reason the Dems can’t conflate this tax

    bill into something bad is Americans are still able to do simple math. Starting with the talking point of liberals that this tax bill is a give away to the evil corporations. Taxing businesses at 35% when the world average for corporate taxes is 23%, bad math for the USA. When the top 20% of wage earners pay 84% of Federal taxes giving them a 2% break is not unfair. If you live in a high taxed state, you have to option to move or pay your fair share (don’t you just love that line) with reduction of SALT as deductible. Simple math let’s you know that middle class, big business, small business and all hard working Americans will do better by keeping more of their own money. Sad that Liberals feel Americans keeping more of their own money, rather than give it to DC, is considered Armageddon by Dem leaders.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/16/2017 - 10:33 am.

      To be clear…

      This tax plan is not popular or supported by any majority of Americans. Math is definitely NOT a Republican strength. Republicans are simply forcing this through while they can with a simply majority because they have the votes to it, opposition is irrelevant. Republicans will own this plan, the budget, and the resulting debts and deficits.

  8. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/16/2017 - 09:58 am.

    Joe recites the GOP leadership-‘s mantra on this tax “reform” bill. But those of us who have actually been doing our own 1040 tax returns–and reading the instructions for that form and other related forms–realize that the middle class will not get any significant tax cut from the bill, if we get any at all.

    First of all, the sops put into the bill at the last minute will disappear for the individual taxpayer. All of them, folks. So, if you get a couple of hundred dollars in reduced tax in 2018, that disappears in several more years.

    Not so for businesses and the super-wealthy. Their tax cuts are permanent.

    Next, according to Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House of Representatives), they’re going after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Since the 1930s, Republicans have wanted to remove any social safety net for the average citizen. Holding their noses at the Trump stench, they are about to use him to destroy those safety nets.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/16/2017 - 10:00 am.

    Yes… this the part where “centrist” pretend…

    This is the part where those who put the most unpopular Democratic candidate in history on the ballot pretend they are the experts in the room regarding reality, electability, and political possibility. They didn’t know what they were doing then, and they still don’t, yet they cling to the privilege that drove us to disaster. Those who couldn’t imagine losing to Trump cling to the delusion that their’s is the superior imagination, while those of us who kept warning them that Clinton was losing are naive “leftists”.

    Clinton, was and remains one of the most unpopular and distrusted politicians and public figures in America. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, that’s a fact. She was so unpopular and distrusted that she couldn’t defeat the most ridiculous candidate in US history.

    Now, this isn’t actually about Clinton, it’s about the neoliberal centrism that Clinton (both Hillary and Bill) represent. It’s about the fact that “Third Way” triangulators turned the Party into a firewall against liberal agendas and policies by redefining the New Deal as a “leftist” agenda while embracing Reaganism as the middle ground.

    We can talk about the fact that Hillary voted for the Iraq invasion but more importantly we should remember that the invasion was endorsed by the Democratic Leadership Council, the entity in controled of the Party. While the DLC is defunct (It’s assets having been transferred to the Clinton Foundation) the mentality (and the influence of Clinton) obviously still pervades the Party.

  10. Submitted by Dave Eischens on 12/16/2017 - 12:58 pm.

    Americans tax dollars are investments…

    Americans tax dollars are investments in our communities, states, country, our people.

    Under guise as “for the common man”, this snake-oil giveaway to elite billionaires and corporations seizes Americans investment dollars that would be going to roads and bridges (remember our infrastructure deficit?), top notch education for kids, care for all our elderly and veterans, care for a healthy population, clean energy, air, water, and land.

    Let’s remember, private business success absolutely depends on public investment in all the above. Public investment promotes growth and prosperity.

    So instead of giving #thecommonman unicorns, this bill Republicans are bullying through Congress steals Americans investment and leaves only potholes and falling bridges.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 12/16/2017 - 02:54 pm.

      Dave, the American people keeping more of

      their own money allows them to invest in their family. Nothing is more important than American families investing in themselves. They can better decide what their needs are than a bloated, corrupt big Government. Do you think “cash for clunkers “ was a good use of our tax dollars? At $ 24,000.00 a car to crush perfectly good used cars, it was Big Govt at its finest….. Let people keep their own hard earned money and invest in themselves.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/17/2017 - 07:53 pm.


        You and Republicans-Libertarians in general keep making this claim that leaving more money in people’s pockets creates a better economy, society, wealth, etc. etc. You don’t seem to be aware of the fact that there is actually an inverse relationship between low tax countries and wealth. Low tax countries actually have small and weak economies, low standards of livings, and tremendous wealth disparity. None of the wealthy democracies in the world are low tax, and the US is actually NOT the highest tax country. If your principle held any water Somalia would be the wealthiest country and the most successful economy on the planet. I don’t know why you guys keep making this bizarre claim.

        • Submitted by joe smith on 12/18/2017 - 08:58 am.

          Maybe because Somalia and other 3rd world countries

          have no economy. Geez, are we really comparing countries that have no economy, no opportunity for small businesses, a totally corrupt Govt (we are only partially polluted here in USA) and 100 other differences between them and the USA. Please show me the results of 20+Trillion spent on War on Poverty since 1965, show the results of Obama’s 1 Trillion dollar stimulus, show me how you are better by giving the Govt money monthly for Social Security than investing that same money yourself,
          Investing in yourself and your family is the best investment you can make. Giving politicians your hard earned money for “Pork” projects is a poor use of your money.
          Paul, there is a special box you can check to give the Government more money, sounds like you check that box and give more. Good for you and all the others who feel that way, give away!!

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 02:07 pm.

            See, there you go….

            You guys always like to pretend your the economy guys and you clearly have no clue. EVERYONE has an economy, some economies are stronger and more successful than others, but everyone HAS an economy. Some economies have been capitalist, some have been socialist, some have been oligarchies, etc. etc. but EVERYONE has an economy. So yes, we compare economies, and anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business offering economic advice.

            The problem with Conservatives and Libertarians is simply that beyond whining about taxes and “regulation” they have no coherent concept of economics.

            The fact is that Somalia IS the logical product of your economic model, you can provide no other example. Sure, you don’t like that fact, but you can’t escape it.

            And it’s not just Mr. Smith here, I’ve been seeing this mumbo-jumbo for decades, and we’ve tried it… all it can possibly do is move us closer to Somalia.

            • Submitted by joe smith on 12/18/2017 - 03:18 pm.

              Paul, are you actually arguing that the Somali

              economy (which actually consists of more trade of goods than transfer of wealth for goods) should be compared to the USA economy? That is just nonsense.
              If you want to talk about Big Government, more taxes,versus smaller Govt, how small businesses get started and the benefit of lower taxes for employment, I’m all for it.
              Please explain how bigger Govt with more taxes and regulations help small businesses get started or expand.
              Is it easier for small businesses to get loans now or before Dodd/Frank?
              Please tell me how investing in Big Govt is better than investing in your own family?
              Explain how 5he Obama administration claimed that our economy had stalled out and 2% growth was the new norm. Trump got elected promoted business, reduced regulations and soon will cut taxes and our last qtr was 3.3% growth. For every .1 improvement in our GDP it equates to 250 Billion more money in our economy.
              That is why regular folks who are entrepreneurs, work for small businesses or large companies voted in Trump. 8 years of more taxes, doubling the national debt, expanding the Government, more folks on welfare, less people looking for jobs under the utopian world of liberals and Obama failed them.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/18/2017 - 10:08 pm.

                Joe you miss the point

                We aren’t talking about the strong (even now) US economy provided for you by decades and decades of Keynesian liberal economics. Conservatism exists only to parasitize an existing, successful, stable society. It is an outgrowth of decadence, of plenty. What Paul refers to is what Conservatism breeds on its own, absent the host. That is Somalia. Social Darwinist dystopia.

  11. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 08:28 am.

    The photo accompanying this story illustrates why the Democrats can’t create a cohesive message. Look at the sign Pelosi has; childish, low info and insulting.

    Here’s a clue; not everyone believes screaming at the sky is an effective tactic.There are still a few adults out here. Learn to communicate with them.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/18/2017 - 11:00 am.


    So, its the democrats problem that the so called fiscal conservatives are a bunch of lying hypocrites? I am never amazed when folks pretend to be fiscally conservative, and come out here on Minn Post and talk about all the free stuff the lefties are giving away to the not so well off, but are noticeably silent, or even protective when the nighties, take out a $1.5T loan to give free stuff to millionaires and billionaires! They rally a cry, that somehow, those that got it all deserve more, and those that got nothing, or near nothing deserve less. Not a word that the “T” family will probably get ~ $Bil. out of this deal, and the famous liar, fills another lying promise, (that he and his family won’t benefit from the bill). And guess who is responsible for paying the bill? our children and our children’s children etc. Talk about fiscal irresponsibility that is pathetic, and disgusting, look at the folks passing the legislation, not the ones opposing it. I think Henry David Thoreau had a quote that went something like: “They serve the devil as god and not know the difference” seems quite apropos to those folks today! .

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/18/2017 - 01:37 pm.


      And like I keep wondering, who needs Russian interference, collusion or whatever attempts they may be making to wreck America when we’ve got today’s Republicans?

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 12/18/2017 - 02:03 pm.

      Status Quo

      So the status quo should be the answer? I’ll give you that the typical Republican in office has not been the best at solving the deficit and the debt. But if you look at every time the government receives more money, they will spend it. At our state level, the DFL single handedly had a record tax raising with the reason Dayton giving was to pay for more programs. There has been no effort to make government more efficient and accountable to the taxpayer.
      Now look at the national level. We had 8 years of the worst recovery after a recession. Economic growth was minimal, the gap between the richest and poorest widened exponentially, more and more regulations have been added making running a business harder and costlier, trillion dollars of ‘stimulus’ went for zero success, plus the debt was doubled.
      There are three ways to pay the debt. Cut programs, add revenue, and/or grow the economy. All efforts that the democrats have done has not worked. Revenues continue to be record after record. Their policies have not grown the economy. And they will NEVER cut a program – after all, they added the monstrosity called the ACA.
      So how about we try something different than what the democrats have given us because it has not worked.
      The $1.5T cost was based upon small growth in the economy, smaller than what we have experienced the last year. It will more than pay for itself in the long run because the economy is primed. Our country then can have more. It’s been proven in the past that trimming certain parts of the government and decreasing taxes actually result in more surpluses for the government.
      So why is that bad? Or are you just afraid it will work? And if it works, the fear is that the democrats will have nothing good to demonize. After all, what have they offered? Just fear. Good luck winning with that message. The base is getting tired of the constant negativity.

      • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 12/19/2017 - 08:56 am.

        Your point is what, exactly?

        “We had 8 years of the worst recovery after a recession.”

        And also the longest. Slow and steady wins the race.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/19/2017 - 10:29 am.

        The lack of support for this tax package is encouraging

        We see Bob Peterson recycling the same magical thinking that was behind the failed Reagan tax cuts and the defunct laffter curve. It’s encouraging to see that a majority of Americans seem to have finally learned what the true believers still deny and the allure of incoherent “small guvmint” jargon is finally loosing appeal.

        We hardly need respond to this mumbo-jumbo anymore but one can quickly point out that “small” or even ostensibly more sensible “limited” government models have always been rendered infeasible by their incoherent distance from reality. The whole idea of “limited” government was a liberal invention, therefore the whole narrative that limited government is some kind of conservative discovery or principle has always been fanciful. Prior to the liberal enlightenment that produced our Constitutional government Monarchy’s dominated national governments. The idea of placing limits on Royal power (i.e. the Magna Carta) was a liberal development. Likewise the idea of building the checks and balances of separate but equal branches into a government that is populated by elected officials rather than Royal families and appointments, was liberal invention. Conservatives didn’t fight for limited government, on the contrary they fought to preserve the unlimited power of Monarchies.

        Even today conservatives aren’t really keen on the idea of democracy, they prefer to dictate rather than negotiate and that tendency to dictate is rather than represent constituents is obvious- look at Trump. Were Trump not saddled with the limits of our liberal Constitution he’d be a dictator within a year. The “limited/small” government narrative has always been incoherent because no one on the American landscape has been fighting for “unlimited” or “big” government in the first place. Small government is an pseudo-ideology organized around a straw man fantasy.

        The entire “small” vs. “big” government dialogue has always been nonsensical because no one designs or organizes government according “size” as if there is some ideal “size” of government. Republicans have never been able to tell us how “big” or “small” the government should be, it just always needs to be smaller than it is. Meanwhile they’ve never even bothered to provide any sensible metric for “size” in the first place, what are we talking about? Square feet, number of employees? Pages of legislation on the books? Budget? What? So a government that tells people who they can and cannot marry is a “small” government but one that protects our environment is a “big” government? A government that doesn’t let women and blacks vote is a small government? It’s simply incoherent.

        Governments in democracies aren’t about pursing some ideal size, that’s a delusion pretending to be political science. Government in democracies are simply as big as they need to be to do whatever their citizens want them to do. And whatever governments do, has to be paid for. The idea that the best government is the one that doesn’t govern is simply incoherent because it assumes that governance is a “bad” thing.

        Tax policy based on these bizarre assumptions simply cannot yield progress or prosperity. So we get statements like this: “There are three ways to pay the debt. Cut programs, add revenue, and/or grow the economy. All efforts that the democrats have done has not worked.”

        This is simply nonsense. The only way to pay off a debt… is to pay off the debt, a suggestion that’s nowhere to be found. The only time in US history that we paid off of huge national debt was after WWII when we paid off the war debt. That debt was paid off with the highest tax in US history, it didn’t pay itself off with growth or or spending cuts. And we’ve seen repeatedly over the decades that republicans turn every surplus into a deficit and grow debts wherever possible every time they get into power. The idea that liberal or Democratic budgets “fail” is simply facile. If you want to complain about our recovery you have acknowledge the fact that Democratic efforts to stimulate the economy have been effectively blocked by the Republican sequester, opposition to stimulus, and government revenue and spending cuts.

        Meanwhile people my finally be realizing that tax revenue IS an investment in services and infrastructure that delivers more than it takes in liberal democracies. Yes, in Oligarchies, taxes simply transfer wealth to the wealthy, so it THAT were we want to go? The idea that tax revenue simply removes capital from the economy was always a facile product of Ayn Rand’s damaged psyche. We can only hope that America is finally crawling out from under that particular rock.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 02:12 pm.

      Ummm, yeah

      “So, its the democrats problem that the so called fiscal conservatives are a bunch of lying hypocrites?”

      Yeah, that hypocrisy, ignorance, and incompetence is a problem for all of us, including Democrats. And those ignorant fiscally irresponsible conservatives are in charge, they’re running the table… how did THAT happen? Obviously it’s a problem for Democrats.

  13. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/18/2017 - 05:02 pm.

    First let’s get out of the way the lie that the DFL leadership under Dayton has been awful for the state: We have recently received a national commendation for being among the top five states in good government and fiscal responsibility. We have enviable bond ratings, enviably low unemployment rates, high education levels, and efficient government.

    And, forgive me, but the Bush-era-inspired Wall St. free-for-all caused the most severe recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Capitalism’s inherent greed principle almost did the world’s economy in. The counterattack implemented by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats in the U.S.saved the day. And the money the U. S. government spent to keep banks and investment firms and automobile manufacturers solvent was not only effective: it has been repaid to the government. You have to be a devotee of the business pages and business mags to know this, because a generally-Trump-obsessed media has ignored that basic Obama triumph for our economy.

    Obama, and government regulations generally, did not cause the recession–except that Congress undid some regulatory safeguards from post-Depression wisdom, and that loosed the greed gates. As a number of economists noted in 2009: it’s hard to believe in unregulated capitalism anymore, after one studies the causes of that near-brush with world-wide economic collapse in 2008.

    The post-recession recovery we have been in since 2009 is the longest and strongest in modern American economic history.

    The Republicans fail to tell us that there is no need for a massive corporate tax cut: in 2017, corporations are swimming in excess cash(and no corporation pays more than about 18.5% in taxes, so they’re already competitive internationally). They are not investing that cash, and they will not invest the new cash from Trump’s and the GOP’s tax cuts for them. They will not–they do not plan to–invest in higher worker wages, nor will they hire more workers; corporations regard American wage levels to be too high, and workers are an expense against the bottom line that our American businesses resent. The GOP knows that some dreamed-of greater “growth” of an already speeding economy will not benefit either the economy or the American wage-earner.

    Yet their tax plan hits the working class and the middle class. It gives millions and even billions to the tiny group who have the largest incomes while slamming the poor and the working class and the middle class. Remember: all the supposed tax benefits for the non-wealthy in the 2017 plan will disappear within six years. It’s a street-level three-card-monte game, a con from the get-go.

    And then they’ll take on their intention to eliminate Social Security and Medicare for the elderly and the infirm. That’s why they actually planned a huge deficit into their tax “reform.”

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/19/2017 - 09:30 am.

      One quibble…

      We can’t claim to have had a “strong” recovery under Obama compared to other recoveries, BUT, our recovery has been hobbled by Republicans who slashed the stimulus package, created and enforced the sequester, and kept insisting that low taxes rather than infrastructure spending would be better stimulants. It’s important to remember that if Republicans had had their way (like they did in the late 1920s) we would have had no stimulus package at ALL, and no auto or bank bailouts, just more tax cuts.

      The lack of enthusiasm for tax cuts isn’t new. I just saw piece in the Washington Post: “How Republicans Sold the Tax Cut” but’s It’s important to remember that Republicans didn’t actually “sell” these tax cuts, they just them passed despite their LACK of support and popularity… which is what Republicans always. Republicans rarely if ever serve a REAL majority, they serve their imaginary “silent” majority. My memories getting a little fuzzy but I think the last time Republicans tax cuts were actually a popular and supported idea was back in 1980s, under Reagan. Those tax cuts didn’t work, but they were initially popular. We still had 3 recessions almost within a decade, a “strong” economy was NOT a primary feature of the Reagan/Bush era. On the other hand, Clinton got into office and joined the bandwagon when he declared that the era of “big government” was over, and that we were ALL Eisenhower Republicans now.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 10:13 pm.

      “Bush-era-inspired Wall St. free-for-all caused the most severe recession since the Great Depression in the 1930” In fact, it was a housing bubble which was caused by free lending to anyone including those with poor credit – Bush has nothing to do with that.

      “Capitalism’s inherent greed principle almost did the world’s economy in.” What is the alternative?

      “The counterattack implemented by President Barack Obama” Actually, Bush started it…

      “They will not–they do not plan to–invest in higher worker wages, nor will they hire more workers” Maybe they will – https://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-half-companies-say-theyd-hire-trump-cuts-taxes-135212711.html.

      • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/20/2017 - 10:56 am.

        Ilya: The alternative to naked capitalism is government-regulated capitalism.

        We don’t have to go the whole communist route of five-year state plans for the economy to put rules in place that contain the inherent greed that animates capitalism (I grew up with it, Ilya, and know what it is and how it works).

        The housing “bubble” was a direct corollary to unregulated capitalist greed. You really ought to read up on what, exactly, happened in 2008.

        The Congress, under President Bush’s last days in office, began the salvage effort of the disaster caused by naked captalist greed, but Obama implemented it and gets the blame or credit for it. You know that, Ilya. Surely you also know that Congress fiercely opposed many of Obama’s efforts to stop the bleeding.

        You have to have never read any corporate annual reports to shareholders to be ignorant of how American corporations regard workers (wages and benefits) as a drag on their bottom line. That’s why, when Cohn asked those assembled corporate CEOs last month about how many of them expected to invest in their business’s infrastructure ad workers–adding jobs, raising salaries–almost no hands went up. Cohn couldn’t believe what he saw, because those CEOs were not reflecting the GOP mantra accompanying this tax bill.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/20/2017 - 10:53 pm.

          “The alternative to naked capitalism is government-regulated capitalism” Absolutely, and we already have it (please note that “naked capitalism” allowed us to progress to the “better” one). The question is how much government regulations we have to have – not whether there should be some or not. Republicans want less and liberals want more and, in theory, there should be a point at which the amount of regulations is just right. But it’s important to understand that more regulations always carry some negatives and it’s difficult to know when negatives start to outweigh the positives.

          “the inherent greed that animates capitalism (I grew up with it, Ilya, and know what it is and how it works)” And I grew up with inherent faults of socialism (and trust me, there are many) when they tried to convince us all that capitalism is an evil system where dog eat dog (despite that actually being on display in the USSR all the time, like when people were fighting for the last pair of winter boots in the store which, by the way, cost a monthly earnings or more). Anyway, I have also lived here for over 25 years so I have seen a thing or two as well. And I can tell you that one of the most amazing things I have observed is when a successful business starts expanding and invests more money into that instead of enjoying success and pocketing the profit. But that is the spirit that moves the system forward – use money to make more money (and in the process provide for a good living for you and me). So is it greed? Maybe, but it works for all of us (just like they say that all inventions are caused by laziness).

          “The housing “bubble” was a direct corollary to unregulated capitalist greed. You really ought to read up on what, exactly, happened in 2008” I thought you said it was Bush’s fault… He didn’t make people greedy… And I am glad you agree that Bush started what Obama continued… As for Congress, wasn’t it run entirely by Democrats the first two years?

          I don’t need to read a corporate report to understand how capitalism works – I read Marx. Capitalists hire workers at the market price which is the cost of labor (and the wage plus benefits they are willing to pay) and then get profit because workers produce more than they cost. So two conclusions from here: More workers means more profit so capitalists will expand and hire more people if they have money (see my observation above) and they will not be paying more than they have to, just like we would not pay more for a car than we have to. But sometimes greedy corporations are just generous in addition to their desire to expand: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171220005943/en/Tax-Reform-ATT-Plans-Increase-U.S.-Capital.

  14. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/21/2017 - 12:47 pm.

    Wages in the United States have not risen in the recent economic recovery. This contradicts a basic tenet of capitalism.

    While Wall St. and corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers are swimming in profits and lots of cash that they refuse to invest in workers, that hallowed capitalist “market” for workers’ efforts has failed to lift their wages. Despite an extremely low unemployment rate and lots of employers’ complaints that they can’t find the workers they need, those employers strangely are not increasing wage levels to a rate where workers would apply for those jobs.

    Some of those employers want special visa considerations from the U. S. government so they can import necessary workers from India, say, and pay them slightly more than Southeast Asian wages–in the U. S.–rather than pay American-level wages.

    Corporations increasingly want to pay American workers wages that would apply to workers in Mexico, or Bangladesh. Even when the service provided, the work, is physically based in geographical United States. Why? They claim that the “market” for workers includes Mexico ad Bangladesh, not just Wisconsin or Iowa for Minnesota companies, and why should they pay $26 an hour when i Mexico workers get $2.60 per hour?

    I see greed in that, Ilya. A greed that is inherent i the economic theory or system called capitalism. You can call it the profit motive if you prefer. But, unrestricted, capitalism leads business and industry to cheat customers, their own workers, and the larger community. Cutting corners, they use cheaper materials than they should.m causing structural failures that may kill.They pollute common assets like waterways and groundwater, and the air. They don’t install safety systems that would protect workers. Banks push their workers to lie to customers or create false accounts for customers that cost more money and lead to financial crises for them (Wells Fargo, prime example of this greed).

    I’m a capitalist, by the way. But hey! I’m not about to say that Karl Marx had nothing constructive to say, just because of a lousy Russian communist system.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/21/2017 - 05:11 pm.

      You know

      It is amazing how folks like to be selective in their comments. Specifically to Constance’s point.
      Adam Smith had a book published before “Wealth of Nations”, “Theory of Moral Sentiments”, lets not talk about his thoughts on the moral side of capitalism, it might put a kink in our capitalist greed factor!

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/21/2017 - 10:36 pm.

      Of course they want to buy labor where it’s the cheapest – Marx was a smart guy, – the same we want to buy our groceries as cheap as possible. But then you should agree with Trump who wants to stop this practice and make sure that Americans are hired first. And for that he wants to reform the immigration system including stopping illegal immigration and limiting work visas. I am glad that we are all on the same page!

      So is it greed? As I said, maybe, but the system works (with some government control, of course, which should be reasonable). On the other hand, if businesses cheat customers or workers, they will lose them and without them they can’t make profit so smart businesses do not cheat and those that cheat a lot go out of business. Sure, there are exceptions, like Wells Fargo, but they do suffer now (customers are leaving in droves); on the other hand, what Wells Fargo did was a routine thing in the Soviet Union…

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