INDIANAPOLIS – The McConnell tax bill was a partisan bill that Joe Donnelly couldn’t have voted for, shouldn’t have voted for – and thankfully didn’t vote for, Jack Colwell wrote this weekend in his South Bend Tribune column. McConnell’s plan isn’t just a deficit-buster that adds as much as $1.5 trillion to the debt, but one which by a large margin voters know ultimately raises taxes on the middle class to cut them for the richest Americans. It’s a toxically unpopular combination that doesn’t make for President Trump’s “beautiful” tax-cutting Christmas present, but a “hideous… McConnell tie” that the Majority Leader could not convince a single Democrat to strangle themselves with.
That wasn’t a tough vote.
It was easy for Sen. Joe Donnelly to vote against the tax package hastily offered in decorative Christmas wrappings by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Polls show that a substantial majority of Americans regard the package, despite the wrappings, to be more in the spirit of Scrooge than of Christmas. A Quinnipiac University poll finds that only 29 percent of Americans approve of the plan. By 61 percent to 34 percent they believe it favors the rich over the middle class.
Bipartisan analysts, looking at economic facts rather than political claims, find the package would add from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion to the national debt, leaving an even higher bill for future generations and likely to force painful cuts everywhere, including in Social Security and Medicare.
Some tax deductions popular with the middle class would vanish. So would their tax cuts, set to expire instead of being made permanent like the corporate cuts.
Why would Donnelly vote for that? He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. He didn’t.
Donnelly, a moderate Democrat who will reach across the aisle for a compromise, had told the president during the White House dinner about the type of compromise he would consider — a bipartisan reform with focus on creating jobs and helping the middle class, not big cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. He urged inclusion of penalties to discourage outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.
Donnelly said he told the president: “If it’s skewed toward the very wealthy, I don’t think you are going to get any Democrats.”
While Trump seemed receptive then to a bipartisan approach, McConnell was not.
McConnell was determined to win Senate passage with just Republican votes. He did so, with only a lone Republican voting “no” because of the deficit.
The package this time was a last-minute deal, like purchasing a hideous Christmas tie as the store closed. Pretty wrappings didn’t convince Donnelly or any of the other endangered Democrats to strangle themselves with a McConnell tie wrapped around their necks.