“Moderate” GOP Senator Susan Collins’ “Aye” on 1% Tax Cut Vote--She Ignored Facts and Sold Out for Empty GOP Promises December 5, 2017
JFK once famously remarked, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” The GOP Senate’s 12/02/2017 tax cut heist was a defeat for millions of Americans and a victory just for the top 1% minority, Demagogue Donald, corporations, and the Koch/Mercer/DeVos political “gazillionaire” donor class. JFK’s quote notwithstanding, this defeat for the overwhelming American majority has many proud fathers and mothers. Fifty- One of the Senate GOPers, everyone of the Senate’s “Team Red” members except for retiring Bob Corker (R-TN), biologically own this bill. This “Gang of 51” has additionally secured a place for itself in the GOP’s legislative “Hall of Shame.”
Three GOP Senators voted this past summer not to kill Obamacare. However, this same group did one big flip-flop and voted for this tax bill. This 1% scam bill repeals the individual mandate, effectively gutting Obamacare. These three Senators sit at the top on their “sell out hell” thrones. AZ Sen. John McCain’s vote was one of the worst. With it, he has lost much of his independent “maverick” image and tarnished his legacy. AK Sen. Lisa Murkowski was quickly bought out for a provision in this bill near and dear to her, drilling in Alaska-- the Yukon/Klondike Oil Slick. However, ME’s Susan Collins wins the very top “award” for absolute sell-out. McCain and Murkowski are at heart basic conservative GOPers who run toward the siren sound of GOP leadership. Collins should have known better. She prides herself on being an independent/moderate New England legislator. The NY Times aptly called her tax cut vote “particularly disheartening (Editorial Board, 12/02/17).” Collins, who normally carefully reads and analyzes factual material and acts on it, joined her fellow GOP Senators in ignoring key facts and going along with empty promises. She has now joined the GOP “facts don’t matter club” and has sold out for empty promises.
On 10/01/2017, GOP Sen. Corker told “Meet the Press” that if “one penny” were added to the deficit, “I’m not going to be for it.” Many thought that at least two other GOPers would follow Corker. They would join the Democrats to kill a budget- busting bill creating a $1 trillion deficit, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional scorekeeper on tax bills (moneycnn.com, 11/30/17, Sahadi, J, Benen, MSNBC, 12/04/07). It didn’t work out that way. “Moderate” Collins, against all reason, maintained that the legislation “would not result in an increase of the deficit.” Why? Collins had talked to unnamed economists who claimed that the tax cut bill “would result in a higher than expected level of economic growth.” Those estimates run contrary to the evidence analyzed by the overwhelming majority of economists, the Tax Foundation, and the Joint Committee on Taxation (See Koenig, 12/03/17, nbcnews.com). Sen. Collins has now joined her fellow “Red” Senators in ignoring major facts and buying into fake “alternative” ones. Sen. Collins, in her statement supporting the tax cut bill, declared that it would provide “significant relief” to lower and middle- income taxpayers.” Again, she ignored the key fact that millions of Americans who make less than $75,000 would pay more under the GOP’s plan (Benen, MSNBC).
Sen. Collins initially objected to putting a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate into the tax bill. In 11/2017, she called doing that, “not a good idea from a political or a policy perspective (Koenig, 12/03/07).” However, Collins changed her mind, once more, ignoring facts. She now has no problem with repealing the individual mandate. According to the non-partisan respected CBO, Congressional Budget Office, repeal of this mandate would cause 13 million more Americans to lose health insurance (Newmyer, Wash. Post, 11/17/17). This catastrophic loss of insurance, according to Collins, would all be “fixed” by Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) and Sen. Bill Nelson’s bills to help the health insurance markets. Again, these bills would not, according to experts, make up for the millions losing insurance with repeal of the individual mandate (huffingtonpost.com, Cohn,11/29/17). Collins, again, chose to ignore this fact. She also said that she trusted GOP leaders to pass these bills and waive automatic Medicare cuts caused by any deficit. Sen. Collins should know by now that one can’t trust Donald or Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do this or anything else. And many GOPers would not even go along with passing these bills (Benen, MSNBC, 12/04/17). She wanted these bills passed before the final vote on the tax cut bill. Well, that’s not happening. The GOP’s short- term bill to fund the federal government does not contain Collins’s “fixes” (#mepoliticsrules.house.gov, Topher Spiro, 11:32 AM-12/04/17, McCarter, KOS, 12/04/17). McConnell, whom she trusted, conned her.
Fact-denier Collins additionally seems to have ignored or forgotten that her ME constituents want Obamacare strengthened, not weakened. On 11/07/2017, they voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid benefits under Obamacare to 80,000 more Mainers, defying their reactionary GOP Gov. Paul LePage (CNN, Cillizza, 11/08/17).
Collins also traded away what should have been an anti-tax cut vote for getting a Senate provision allowing a deduction of up to $10,000 for state and local property taxes. The House tax bill has this same provision. However, for far too many Americans, this is an inadequate deduction (See NY Times, 12/02/17 editorial, NY Times, Tankersley & Rappeport, 12/02/17). Collins should know this fact, but, once again, chose to ignore or deny it. Why did Collins sell out and join her hard-right fact-denying colleagues? Let’s take a look at her entire record.
GOP Senator Susan Collins (64) is presently serving her fourth-term as ME’s senior Senator. Caribou, ME native Collins’ family have long been involved in politics. Her father was a state senator, her mother served as mayor, and her uncle was a state Supreme Court justice. (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs).”
After graduating from St. Lawrence University in 1975, Collins interned for then moderate ME GOP Cong. Bill Cohen who later won election to the U.S. Senate. Collins stayed on his staff for 12 years, till 1987. She was staff director for the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight, which Sen. Cohen chaired from 1981-1987. When the Democrats retook the Senate majority in 1987, Collins returned to ME and worked for five years for the GOP Governor as financial regulation commissioner. In 1992, Collins became New England administrator of the Small Business Administration. In 1994, she won the GOP nomination for Gov. of ME. She finished third behind the Democratic nominee and Independent Angus King, now ME’s junior Senator, who won the governorship. In 1996, Collins ran for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Cohen. She won by 5 points. In 2002, Collins won re-election, clobbering her opponent, now Dem. Rep. Chellie Pingree by a 16.8% margin. In 2008, and 2014, Collins handily won re-election by 23% and 36.8% respectively (U.S. Senate Election in ME).
Collins calls herself a “moderate Republican.” “Moderate” by GOP standards only, in that 1890’s reactionary party. According to Crowdpac, a group that bases their ratings on donations she receives and gives, Sen. Collins has a liberal viewpoint on abortion, election law, and gender equality, but a conservative viewpoint on every other major issue (crowdpac.com). In 2013, the National Journal gave her a score of 55% conservative and 45% liberal, not a hard-core Southern/Rocky Mountain GOP score, but not near most Democrats (worldcat.org). She voted for Obama’s key stimulus bill, but only after getting its price tag knocked down from $900 billion to $787 billion (Barone 14). Many economists felt that much more money was needed to make a faster recovery. Although she voted for it, Collins helped water down stronger reforms in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulatory bill (Barone, 14). As for health care, Collins, despite much wooing by Obama, still voted against it. She said that 2010 bill contained few GOP ideas, a ridiculous comment. The individual mandate in that bill, remember, was originally pushed by the GOP-leaning Heritage Foundation. In 1/2017, Collins voted in favor of a bill to begin the repeal of Obamacare. Although she voted in the summer of 2017 against repealing health care, she has proposed legislation along with fellow GOPer Bill Cassidy (LA), a strong foe of Obamacare, to permit states to keep Obamacare or move to a replacement program funded in part by the federal government (Reuters, 1/23/17). This replacement stunt was not backed by Democratic supporters of Obamacare. Collins is, therefore, not a friend of Obamacare, despite her constituents’ present support of it.
Sen. Collins stated she would not vote for Donald (Wash. Post, 8/08/16). However, in the age of Trump, “moderate” Collins has voted with him 81.1% of the time (projectsfivethirtyeight.com). ME voted for Hillary, (NY Times, 8/09/17, ME Results), and Collins’ post-Trump score is far closer to that of a far-right GOP Senator than the “moderate” one she professes to be. And despite her “moderation,” Collins makes no bones about her being a “lifelong” Republican. She supported Donald’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey who was then looking into Trump’s connection with Russia during his 2016 campaign (Wash. Post, 8/08/16, “The Hill,” Swanson, 5/09/17).
When Collins announced her decision to vote for the awful 1% tax cut/ gut Obamacare scam, protestors gathered outside her Portland, ME office to express their unhappiness (WGME, 12/01/17). When news that Collins had actually voted for this tax cut bill was confirmed, many other ME protestors gathered across the state, including at the Bangor International Airport (Benen, MSNBC, 12/04/17). Unlike after she killed the attempt to repeal Obamacare in the summer, Collins is not going to get a hero’s welcome this time. In 10/2017, Collins stated that she had decided to stay in the Senate until her current term ends in 2020 and not run for governor in 2018. She said that she could do the “most good for Maine and the nation in the Senate (NPR, 10/13/17, Mistler).” This latest party-line tax scam vote is certainly not what Mainers wanted from Collins’ moderate/independent leadership for their state or the nation.
Because there are many differences in the House and Senate tax cut bills, these bills will have to go through a conference committee, composed of members of both chambers. The conference committee’s version will have to be voted on by both congressional chambers before it reaches Donald’s desk (See CNN, Fox & Barrett, 12/04/17). Democratic leaders will be able to pick conference committee members, but, in this case, unlike in most conference situations, behind-the-scenes GOP only House-Senate discussions, already under way, will be the key and will be rubber-stamped by the actual conference committee (See USA Today, 12/04/17). Count on this conference committee ramming through a still horrible tax bill that only the 1% will cheer. GOPers are desperate for a legislative “win” here to give to their rabid base, despite the fact that the public overwhelmingly opposes this cut for the elite 1% (Quinnipiac Poll, 52% oppose v. 25% favor). Collins is now asking for $10 billion, not her original $4.5 billion to establish high-risk health insurance pools or reinsurance programs, still an economic gamble (See “The Hill,” Hellmann, 12/04/17). She stated that she will “wait to see what comes out of the conference committee” and there is “no guarantee she will vote for the final bill (See “The Hill,” Samuels, 12/03/17).” Mainers and all the rest of us must write, phone, and email Collins to express their disapproval of her initial tax cut vote and tell her to oppose the final 1%-tilted tax cut conference plan. Collins must pay attention to reality-based facts, not empty-based GOP promises.