We are reminded yet again that sunshine is back in the White House briefing room. Logic has replaced angry, hectoring rhetoric, pertinence has replaced whataboutisms, misdirection and Gish Gallops, truth has replaced lies, conspiracy theories and propaganda. Once again Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the Velvet Hammer, takes reporters on a guided tour of their own contrived, carefully-constructed ignorance.
As a case in point, one reporter recently asked her, “If an average family of four … sees their heating bill go up because utility companies increase their rates to accommodate the 28% corporate tax rate. Is that okay or acceptable to the President?” Psaki immediately replied, “Well, I would say that there is no reason that that is what needs to happen. We saw — we have evidence of what happens — back in 2017, when Republicans prioritized tax cuts for big corporations over investing in working people, there were many arguments made about what the impacts would be. The benefits would be passed on to consumers. They would invest in R&D, there would be jobs created. None of that happened. There were stock buybacks, more incentives to offshore, record compensation for executives. We have seen countless studies where the biggest impacts to these corporations would likely be on capital. So I would say that is not a concern that we have at this time.”
So the reporter pointed out that because utilities lowered their rates in response to the 2017 tax law changes, might they not raise their rates in response to the increase? Psaki asked, “Is there some data that you’re expecting from economists suggesting that that would be the case or are you just getting ahead of what might happen when the bill passes?” “I’m just getting ahead of that,” the reporter said. “And have utility companies said … that they will raise the cost if this bill passed?” No. “Well then I don’t think we have to anticipate it as an issue quite yet.”
This is classic Jen Psaki, demolishing yet another cheap attempt to create trouble where none exists. That is what Republicans and their water carriers are reduced to, desperately trying to manufacture fear of what might happen when Joe Biden’s highly popular and urgently needed $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan is enacted.
The reality is that when the 2017, $2 trillion Republican tax cut bill passed, some American households received reductions in their utility bills between one and four dollars a month. And even those reductions were forced on the companies by federal regulators, the very regulators Republicans are constantly trying to eliminate. Hardly the huge victory for the consumer that Republicans tout. The vast majority of the money from the 2017 tax cut went to greedy business owners, exactly as Democrats predicted they would.
It should also be pointed out that the corporate tax rate was 35% before it was slashed to 21% by the 2017 bill. So the increase to 28% still makes it the second lowest American corporate tax rate since the 1940s. It’s a much-needed correction to what amounted to a 2017 corporate giveaway. It needs to be remembered how the vast majority of corporations responded to that giveaway by hoarding capital and stock buybacks. They used the 2017 windfall the way they always do, by rewarding themselves and shareholders instead of investing in jobs and research and development.
Meanwhile the new infrastructure bill would do something that the 2017 tax cut for the upper 1% didn’t even pretend to do, it will actually improve the quality of life in America. Not only will it improve roads and bridges, it will eliminate lead pipes, improve the quality of drinking water, renew the electric grid, plug oil and gas wells, clean up abandoned mines, provide high speed broadband to all Americans, modernize schools, upgrade veteran’s hospitals and federal buildings, fund homecare, and so on.
It’s a good bill that will do a lot of good for Americans. Together with the repeal of the 2017 tax cut to the greedy 1%, it will put America back on track. Jen Psaki knows this — and she does not suffer fools gladly, especially fools who pretend they don’t. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.