Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post writes today that the tax cut legislation working its way through both chambers is carefully designed to benefit corporations-as-persons over actual human persons. Congress has a nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation and that group's analysis concludes that all households earning less than $75,000 will see a tax increase. This is an analysis from Congress.
Further, she reminds us that it is not only that corporate-persons huge tax cuts are denied to human-persons. In order to pay for these corporate cuts (and not trigger deficit increases that would require this tax bill to get 60 votes to pass), the Senate added provisions that actually make the situation for human-persons worse (including triggering immediate cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security).
Cass Sunstein, writing for Bloomberg View, argues that the president's ongoing obsession with prosecuting his political opponents is a dangerous step into Authoritarianism. Sunstein compares the president's gross violation of longstanding American tradition here to Big Brother's demonizing of Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984 as an enemy of the people in a media segment titled Two Minutes of Hate.
'As citizens see Goldstein's face on a screen they break out into "uncontrollable exclamations of rage" followed by a "hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer."
Sunstein describes this Two Minutes of Hate as 'a diversion from issues of policy, and from problems people face in their ordinary lives. It focuses citizens' attention on a malevolent, even demonic force, who continues to threaten them.'Sunstein concludes that "Hillary Clinton in Trump's Emmanuel Goldstein."
create the fiction that corporations are people in Citizens United, but that decision expanded the rights of these fictional people dramatically, putting America more solidly on a path toward authoritarian plutocracy that at any time since our founding.
Both the fictional corporate persons and the fictional Two Minutes of Hate are designed with the same purpose: as bricks in a wall built to operate as a background consensus constructed to accomplish two things.
First, to enable some conversations and disable others. When key audiences start from the 'conventional wisdom' that corporations are people or HRC is a crook, the work it takes just to bring a conversation about any controversial political question back to a space where democratic problem solving is even possible is so burdensome that most conversations derail.
Second, these fictions are designed to distract our attention and inflame our emotions to redirect our frustrations toward each other and away from leadership.
The irony of democracy is how deeply it depends on good leadership. Thus, we saw President Obama (as described in Sunstein) rejecting calls to prosecute his opponents, for the good of the republic. And we see this president, inspired by one fiction, choosing instead to disable productive problem solving, to inflame and divide and distract us from his efforts to feed another fiction.
This reveals a deep-seated challenge that has been developing over decades. An effective response must be one step at a time: focus on winning the House in the midterms as the most pressing immediate next step. Focus on developing young (especially female and non-white) candidates at the state and local level, as the next most important step--investing in leadership of the future.