Michael Flynn pleads guilty, sounding the alarm for Republicans to push through permanent tax cuts for the wealthy before their party dies

Yesterday morning, it was announced that Michael “lock her up” Flynn, the conspiracy theorist turned foreign agent that Donald Trump tapped to be his National Security Adviser in spite of warnings from the Justice Department, had plead guilty to the charge of lying to federal investigators pursing the investigation into Russia’s involvement in our 2016 election. While it’s certainly significant on it’s own that the highest ranking person on Trump’s national security team has now plead guilty to a felony that could put him in prison for decades, what’s far more interesting, at least from my perspective, is the fact that the retired general wasn’t charged with more… because, as we all know, there was certainly more that he could have been charged with. Which leads me to believe that Flynn must have finally turned on Trump, Sessions, Pence, Trump Jr. and/or Kushner, giving Mueller definitive proof of criminal wrongdoing higher up in the administration… Here’s my initial reaction on Twitter.

And, here, from Harry Litman, a former United States attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, is the best takeaway of the day. “This is not a meet-in-the-middle deal,” he told the New York Times. “Both sides did not assess their risks and decide to hedge them with a compromise. Rather, as we’ve known for weeks, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, believed he had sufficient evidence to indict Mr. Flynn on a long list of criminal charges, including money laundering, tax offense and false statements. Mr. Mueller’s team, as is standard prosecutorial practice, presented Mr. Flynn with that list and helped him understand that his life as he knew it had ended.” So Flynn, lest you had any doubts, has been caught dead to rights, and he’s now agreed to give Mueller actionable evidence against others in the administration. There’s simply no other way to interpret this recent turn of events.

Had we been living in more normal times, the Republicans in Congress, having heard that Flynn had struck a plea deal, would have likely retreated to a bunker somewhere to discuss whether or not they’d stand by their president. Instead, though, the Republicans in the Senate apparently decided that their time would best be spent pushing through a tax reform package that would add $1 trillion to the national debt, raise taxes on the middle class, take health care from 13 million Americans, decimate higher education, and, through the elimination of the estate tax, pave the way for the development of a true American aristocracy… In other words, with their party in flames, instead of trying to put the fire out, and mitigate the damage, they made the conscious decision to invest every last ounce of strength they had left to pass extremely unpopular tax cuts on behalf of their donors… tax cuts which, by the way, the conservative financial magazine Forbes just called “the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history.”

And every Republican in the Senate, even the ones like John McCain, who have made it a point in the past to say that they wouldn’t support legislation that violated the “regular order” of the Senate, voted for it, except for Bob Corker of Tennessee, who decided to jump ship at the very last minute, saying that he just couldn’t support a bill that would add $1 trillion to the national debt. [For what it’s worth, if Corker had any courage at all, he would have spoken up last week, when the bill was still in the Senate Budget Committee, and he could have actually stopped it. He, however, chose not to.] And this bill, for those of you who haven’t followed the news, did not follow regular order. Far from it… There were no public hearings. There were no debates. In fact, all 52 Republicans in the Senate voted against letting their fellow Senators read the new tax code before it came to a vote on the floor last night. Instead, they waited until just before the vote was to take place, and only then shared their 479-page tax bill, still covered in the handwritten edits of lobbyists. According to Senator Claire McCaskill, she and her fellow Democrats “politely asked to adjourn till Monday morning,” so that they could read and study the bill. They were, of course, denied. And, with that, according to McCaskill, the Republican majority moved on to, “blindly re-arrange the American economy in the middle of the night.”

Here’s an example, for those of you who have yet to see the bill, of those handwritten markups, many of which are completely illegible… But, of course, 51 Republican Senators voted to pass the legislation anyway, not even knowing what they were voting on.

For what it’s worth, when people rush legislation through like this, it’s not usually because they think it’s just so tremendously awesome that they can’t wait to see it in action. No, when legislation is shoved through like this, it’s generally because the party in power knows damn well that, if people were to see what was in it, they’d rally against it, like the American people did earlier this fall when Republicans tried unsuccessfully to kill the America Cares Act. And, in this case, the Republicans were also not only facing the prospect of a government shutdown on December 8, but the very real possibility of criminal charges being filed against their President, thanks to the flipping of Michael Flynn. And, with donors saying that, if this bill didn’t pass, the contributions would stop coming in, they apparently felt as though they had no choice. [Republican Senator Lindsay Graham had said publicly to members of his party, that, if this legislation didn’t pass, “financial contributions will stop.”] So, they did as they were told, and they crammed it through, like the good little corporate soldiers that they are.

Just to recap… The Republicans told us that this bill of theirs would not increase the debt. They told us it was designed to benefit the middle class. Trump said repeatedly that he would not personally benefit from the legislation. And, as we know now, all of that was a lie. But, it worked… The American people allowed it to happen.

I don’t want to hold out false hope, but it’s worth noting that, because of the way this was done, there’s still a chance of killing it, although it’s not very likely. Given that the bills which passed the House and Senate are considerably different, they now have to go through the reconciliation process, meaning that either the House will have to vote on the Senate bill, as it just passed, or a new compromise bill will have to be drafted, and then voted on by members of both chambers. And it’s conceivable, I suppose, that some people… especially Republican Senators like Susan Collins‏, who said today that she only agreed to vote “yes” once she was assured that there would be no reduction in Medicare triggered by the bill, which likely isn’t true… might change their votes.

So, I’ll leave you with this from Senator Kamala Harris: “Under the cover of darkness, Republicans passed their tax plan. But this fight isn’t over yet, as the Senate and the House tax bills will be reconciled in conference. Keep up the calls and tell Republicans you don’t want this #TaxScamBill: (202) 224-3121.

Is it a long shot? Hell, yeah. But we can’t stop fighting, and reminding these Republicans that a vote for this bill is a vote for Trump, and a vote that will forever tie them to his disgraced, criminal administration. [You’ll find information on how to contact the offices of your elected officials here.]

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8 Comments

  1. Demetrius
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    According to reports, many of the hand-written sidebars were added not by members of Congress, or even their staffers, but by K Street lobbyists — who were rushing to get cram in as many provisions as possible before it came to floor for a vote. As a consequence, many of us are only now reading the full bill … and trying to parse out what the actual impacts will be.

    One thing is clear: In addition to the most radical tax overhaul in generations – one that represents an unprecedented shift in national wealth away FROM poor, working- and middle-class Americans and TO the already super-wealthy individuals and multinational corporations – this bill is also loaded with tons of other, non-strictly-tax-related provisions designed to strangle charities and non-profits, subsidize private and religious schools, deprive millions of people of affordable healthcare, weaken regulations on banks and insurance companies, etc.

    At this point, Washington is no longer even “going through the motions” of pretending to offer responsible, accountable government (hosting independent reviews, holding committee hearings, etc.). At this point, they obviously feel so emboldened, and so protected from any consequences, that they are literally letting outside lobbyists (hand) write the legislation themselves, then hurridly passing it in the dark of night.

    At this point, the government in Washington has essentially declared open warfare on every one of us who is not remarkable wealthy or well connected.

  2. anonymous
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Word is that Cruz and Pence snuck 529 into the tax bill, which defines a human fetus as a legal person for tax purposes, thereby undermining women’s abortion rights, and setting the stage for a Row v. Wade repeal.

  3. anonymous
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Flynn probably decided to make a deal and plead guilty once they told him his son was going to be charged.

    This is from the Washington Post.

    “As part of Flynn’s negotiations, his son is not expected to be charged”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michael-flynn-charged-with-making-false-statement-to-the-fbi/2017/12/01/e03a6c48-d6a2-11e7-9461-ba77d604373d_story.html

    My guess is that Trump will not do the same when it comes to Don Jr. and Jared. I guess we’ll soon see.

  4. ytown
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    “when people rush legislation through like this, it’s not usually because they think it’s just so tremendously awesome that they can’t wait to see it in action. No, when legislation is shoved through like this, it’s generally because the party in power knows damn well that, if people were to see what was in it, they’d rally against it”
    Sounds like what happened with Obama Care…

    “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” –Nancy Pelosi

  5. Posted December 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Good try, ytown, but there were over 100 public hearings on Obamacare.

    Check this out from the New York Times: “In June and July 2009, with Democrats in charge, the Senate health committee spent nearly 60 hours over 13 days marking up the bill that became the Affordable Care Act. That September and October, the Senate Finance Committee worked on the legislation for eight days — its longest markup in two decades. It considered more than 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes. The full Senate debated the health care bill for 25 straight days before passing it on Dec. 24, 2009.”

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The GOP business types (connected, wealthy, GOP stalwarts NOT Trump supporters) I know presented tax reform as make or break to the GOP base and donor class. They each expect the GOP to lose handily in 2018 without it and maybe with it. They expressed a profound sense of urgency about getting this done. I think that urgency produced this incredibly shoddy result. These are men who truly believe that all Americans interests are served when big business interests are served. They also believe this is just a first step. They still do not believe they are ripping off the rest of America. This bill is a disaster and will spell an end to the viability of the GOP unless there is another war or some other impetus. The one thing the left and right regular voters agree on is that government is working for corporate interests not theirs. In the end, the GOP sustained commitment to such interests will destroy them. I truly hope the Dems will figure out how to demonstrate their commitment to the average citizen in a way that can be well heard soon, ideally without burning down the house.
    There is still time to dissect and protest this bill before the house and senate bills are reconciled at the end of the month. I hope enough of us take the time to do so during the holiday season. Even if it goes through, now is the time to make clear to the larger public what is at stake and who is responsible. If Dems don’t adequately protest this bill, we will be held complicit by the electorate. Fairly or unfairly.

  7. Elliott
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    And then there’s this.

    Senate Republicans are essentially defunding public schools to pay for private ones http://bit.ly/2AP4l49

  8. Erin O'Leary
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    My activist friend is also encouraging people to call state senators and the governor to plead with them to encourage Senators and Congress to vote no.

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