Paul Krugman: Trump Is Destined to Disappoint His Richest Voters

The Republican Party knows Donald Trump is unfit for the job of president. They know he likely colluded with a foreign power to influence our elections; that he's racist, incompetent, and as Senator Bob Corker recently suggested, hurtling our country on a path towards World War III. Ultimately there's one thing and one thing only keeping the GOP from ending this charade: tax cuts.

As Paul Krugman writes in his Tuesday column, "If they nonetheless circle the wagons around Trump — in particular, if they allow him to fire Robert Mueller, which now seems all too likely — there will be one main reason: Trump offers their big opportunity to cut taxes for the very wealthy." And in a cruel twist of fate, this money likely won't go very far toward making Republicans in Congress, or the donors who put them there, very happy. 

Krugman is not trying to sell us a "money can't buy happiness" argument. He admits, "there’s a lot of evidence, both within and between countries, showing that other things being equal, having more money does make people happier." What that evidence doesn't capture, however, is the impact additional money has on those who are already among the world's wealthiest. 

Which brings him to Obama's tax hike in 2013. That year, "average federal taxes on the top 1 percent rose to 34 percent of income from 29 percent of income — thanks to expiration of part of the Bush tax cuts and the imposition of new taxes to help pay for Obamacare. So, do you remember widespread wailing and rending of garments among the economic elite? I don’t; many super-affluent Americans barely seemed to notice." 

That's not his only example. Krugman cites an even earlier case—a 1955 Fortune article about the lives of executives. The executives were living less lavishly than their 1930s counterparts, but as Krugman points out, "the article conveys a sense of men satisfied with their lives. Maybe all the wealth members of that class lost under the New Deal — and have regained many times over in our second Gilded Age — didn’t do much for their happiness?" 

Neither will this tax cut. Often the rich are in a competition with each other to see who has the biggest house and the most lavish lifestyle, but, "a tax cut that goes to almost all wealthy Americans doesn’t even deliver the kind of status payoff many of the truly rich crave, since the guy in the mansion next door gets the same cut." 

Don't tell that to Paul Ryan. 

Unfortunately, Krugman notes it's also possible that this evidence doesn't matter: "The G.O.P. policy agenda of rewarding the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working class would be vile even if tax cuts would make the rich ecstatic," he writes. "The party’s willingness to turn a blind eye to corruption with a hint of treason would be horrifying whatever the motivation." 

The most we can hope for is that the big GOP donors ask themselves what Krugman does at the end of the column: "For what shall it profit a man, if he gain a $230,000 tax cut, and his formerly democratic nation lose its soul?"  Read the entire column here


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