Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, November 4, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3

B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, NOVEMBER 4, 2017 OPINION B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, NOVEMBER 4, 2017 OPINION 
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“I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said a political-insider friend ofmine as we sipped coffee. 

“What is it?” I said. 

“Several members of the Republican-controlled House and Senate are suffering from a rareform of memory loss. Until recently, I fear, they completely forgot why they were elected.” 

“Explain, please.” 

“When Republicans took over the House in 2011, they did so because the majority ofAmericans were fed up with ObamaCare, wasteful spending and a federal governmentthat was running amok. They wanted the Republican House to thwart President Obama’spolicies.” 

“I remember the 2010 election well,” I said. 

“During the 2014 election, the Republicans took back the Senate because the majority ofAmerican people were fed up with ObamaCare, wasteful spending and a federal governmentthat was running amok. They wanted the Republican Senate to work with the RepublicanHouse to overturn Obama’s polices.” 

“There was a sense of great hope at that time,” I said.

“Then in 2016, despite several ‘expert’ predictions that Hillary Clinton would becomeAmerica’s first female president, Donald Trump was elected. That’s because the people inmost U.S. states wanted to repeal and replace ObamaCare, get federal spending under controland overturn Obama’s policies - including many executive orders that many consideredpresidential overreach at best and unconstitutional at worst.” 

“Well, Trump has been successful overturning Obama’s executive orders, but he hasn’tenjoyed much success passing big bills through the Republican House and Senate.” 

“That is correct, and I fear it is due to mass memory loss. You see, too many Republicansseem to have forgotten that they had promised to repeal ObamaCare, but repeal efforts failedrepeatedly.” 

“That’s frustrating to the voters who put Republicans in power.” 

“Trump has been struggling to get any big bills through Congress, including hisinfrastructure bill, despite the fact that Republicans own the White House, House and Senate.
I figure they have one chance to wake up and remember why they are there or we are allcooked.” 

“What is their one chance? 

“They must come together to give the country its first comprehensive tax reform sincePresident Reagan reformed the tax code, and they’d better do it this year!”

“Hear, hear! How are they doing?”

“A cynic like me is afraid to get too hopeful, but it would appear they are finally making realheadway on real tax reform.” 

“I’m afraid to be hopeful, too. What does their plan include?”

“Investor’s Business Daily reports that the Republican reform plan includes reducingAmerica’s outdated corporate tax rates, which are among the highest in the world. They plana top corporate tax-rate reduction to 20 percent, which would unleash significant economicgrowth, create new jobs and increase wages for millions of Americans.” 

“Bring it on.” 

“The reform plan would introduce other commonsense measures to reduce rates for smallbusinesses, while allowing them to write off business costs faster. As it is now, they have todepreciate many investments over many years - thus, it takes them many years to recoup theircosts through tax savings. Such a simple move would spur significant investment and growth,
benefiting everyone.” 

“Bring that on, too.” 

“Tax filing would be simplified for everyone, with fewer brackets and increased standarddeductions and child credits. Democrats are rolling out tired old lines about the rich gettinghuge tax breaks while the middle class gets the shaft, but it is just not so. The fact is, the realcommonsense reform that Republicans are working on will hopefully return our countryto a massive 5- or 6-percent growth rate, which will benefit us all. But it will only happen IFRepublicans overcome mass memory loss and remember why they were elected in the first 

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Cut Taxes, 





Bravo to the Republican senator who stood tall in the chamber

and assailed a Republican demagogue for his disgraceful reliance

on “the Four Horsemen of Calumny - Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry,
and Smear.” Bravo to the senator for insisting, with virtually no support from coweredcolleagues, that “it’s high time for the United States Senate and its members to dosome soul-searching, for us to weigh our consciences.”

I’m referring, of course, to Margaret Chase Smith.

It’s great that Jeff Flake stood up to Donald Trump’s serial lies and dangerous toxicity,
but, lest we forget our history (and too often, we don’t even know it), Flake’s act wasnot unprecedented. Sixty-seven years ago Chase was a junior senator from Maine, theonly member of her gender, and unlike virtually everyone around her, she’d alreadyhad enough of colleague Joseph McCarthy.

At that point, in June 1950, McCarthy had only been on the national scene fora few months, smearing people as “Communists” and “fellow travelers,” destroyinginnocents’ reputations, forcing them from their jobs, prompting a number to commitsuicide. Rank-and-file Republicans on Capitol Hill barely uttered a peep, but Chasewas ill-suited by temperament to follow the herd.

So she wrote a speech that she titled “Declaration and Conscience,” stood on theSenate floor, and said: “Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in 
making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own wordsand acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism.” She extolled the GOP’sproud history as the party of Lincoln, “yet to displace it with a Republican regimeembracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty wouldprove ... disastrous to this nation.” 

She urged her Republican colleagues to be “Americans first” and to publiclyacknowledge that McCarthy “threatens the security and stability of our country.” Shesaid, “It is high time that we all stop being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques.”
She said the Republican Party should not seek victory “through the selfish politicalexploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance.” 

Flake’s rhetoric on Tuesday was similar. But the big difference, however, is that Flakedid so while declaring that he was quitting the chamber. Chase didn’t go anywhere.
She stayed in the Senate and kept fighting.

She took a lot of hits. McCarthy, who, like Trump, could never abide an attack,
complained that “there are too damn many women in the Senate.” (There was one.)
Chase managed to get seven fellow Republicans to sign her anti-McCarthy statement(today, seven would be considered a tsunami), and McCarthy retaliated with Trumpiansnark, calling Chase and her supporters “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Chase was rumored to be on Dwight Eisenhower’s short list for veep in 1952, butthe McCarthy heat (plus her gender) made her unacceptable; and when she ran forreelection, McCarthy worked, albeit unsuccessfully, to sabotage her. But she hung in,
waging her multi-year fight against McCarthy mostly alone, until finally McCarthyimploded in 1954 by trying to smear the U.S. Army, at which point Chase’s colleaguesfinally grew spines and voted to censure him.

Her fight was long and lonely, but still she persisted. She liked to say, “The rightway is not always the popular and easy way.” She didn’t quit the Senate; she stayed andwon history’s verdict. And what she said in 1950 - with respect to a man who poseda clear and present danger to this nation - has more meaning than ever in 2017: “It ishigh time that we stop thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats and startedthinking patriotically as Americans.” 

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. 

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What hasn’t happened this week?

It started on Monday with special counsel Robert Mueller’s openinground of indictments, chief of which were charges of fraud and moneylaundering against Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and shiftybig-time lobbyist, Paul Manafort.

The charges against Manafort, which predate his three-month stint withthe Trump campaign in summer of 2016, made headlines but were nosurprise to anyone, especially me. (I had been telling people for years thatManafort was dirty, but unfortunately no one doing the hiring in Trumpland took my advice.)

Then on Tuesday afternoon came the horrible news of the attack by an Isis-connected terrorist whoused a rented truck to murder eight people on a bike path in New York City.

Mueller’s indictments and the terror tragedy both overshadowed what should have been the bignews of this week -- President Trump’s big push for a massive tax reform bill.

But on Thursday Republicans in the House unveiled the first draft of their “Tax Cuts and Job Act”
-- all 429 pages of it.

It’s still horribly complicated, full of politically controversial features and debatable deductions, andliable to be rewritten as early this weekend.

There are far too many politicians and interest groups pulling and pushing and whining for theirspecial deals ‒ whether it’s the home builders and real estate people complaining that it would hurthomeowners or Senator Rubio moaning about the insufficient hike in the child tax credit.

In its present fluid state, it’s not worth praising or criticizing the specific pluses or minuses of Trump’s“historic” tax reform bill. 

One thing for sure, though, it’s not going to happen quickly or easily, no matter how many times theyinvoke my father’s name.

For years whenever Republicans dreamed out loud about reforming the income tax or simplifyingthe tax code they’d say it was going to be the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan did it in 1981.

Nothing ever came of their big talk about tax cuts, but when Republican tax-cutters use my father’sname I’m often reminded of a conversation I had with him about confiscatory income tax rates in 1954-- when I was about nine years old.

It sounds crazy or made up, but it’s true.

As I detail in my 2016 book “Lessons My Father Taught Me,” when I rode with my father to his ranchin Malibu on Saturday mornings, it was like going to school.

I’d pepper him with questions and he’d always answer them, plus he often gave me answers toquestions about politics or economics that no nine-year-old ever thought of asking.

One day I asked him a simple question -- would he double my allowance from a dollar a week to twodollars? 

For the next 15 minutes my father decided to tell me about the workings of the income tax system inAmerica. 

At the time I felt like it was my penance for daring to ask my selfish question, but I’ve alwaysremembered what he said. 

He told me ‒ and this was around the time he was hired to host “General Electric Theater” on TV 
--that he was paying about 90 cents out of every dollar he made in federal income taxes.

Then he said something like, “With the 10 cents I have left, I have to take care of your mother Janeand you and Maureen, and my new wife Nancy and our daughter Patty, the house we live in, the ranch,
the foreman, the horses and the cows.” 

By the time he ended his tax lesson I felt so sorry for him I offered to give him back half of myallowance. 

“Michael,”he said, “you don’t have to go that far. I’ll make you a deal. When there’s a president thatcuts my income taxes I’ll increase your allowance.” 

I took the deal. I didn’t know a Democrat from a Republican, but at age nine I knew the differencebetween more money and less.

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson got the tax cuts through Congress that John F. Kennedy had been pushingbefore he was killed, dropping the tax rate of the top income bracket from 90 percent to 70 percent.

Still not much of a bargain, but my dad, as promised, increased my allowance from $1 a week to $5.

I was no longer nine. I was 18. But at least by that time I had learned to play poker and I was able toincrease my $5 mightily on weekends.

The point was that my father kept a promise to me and taught me a lesson that has nationalimplications “When I get a break in taxes you get a bigger allowance.” 

That’s really kind of how the American tax system works and it’s really never not worked that way.

I think about what my father said when I hear the politicians debating whether they’re going to allowthose of us in California or New York State who pay a very high state income tax to continue writingthat tax off on our federal returns. 

Or whether we’ll be able to still deduct what we pay in property taxes on our homes. Or how muchthe standard deduction for a couple will be.

Today’s tax-cutters need to remember that when my father signed that bill to cut federal taxes inAugust of 1981 he didn’t play political games or create special deals for certain special interests. He cuttaxes for everyone across the board.

So, tax-cutters, if you are going to use my father as the shining star of tax reform, then use himcorrectly and cut everyone’s taxes.

And don’t punish the people who’ve been most successful with higher rates, because if you do theymight never be able to give their child or grandchild that increase in their allowance. 

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the authorof “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). 

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