I liked Donald Trump because he sold himself as not being a puppet of the donor class. He gained a lot of mileage out of financing his own campaign and portraying his rivals as puppets of Wall Street. If anything is true, I am coming out of 2017 more suspicious than ever before of the power and influence of wealthy donors like the Koch brothers over the Republican agenda:
“Conservative groups are planning a multimillion-dollar effort to sell the GOP’s tax cut law, hoping the American electorate can learn to love the party’s signature — but massively unpopular — legislative achievement.
“We have a public that distrusts anything coming out of Washington, especially anything from the majority party,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the grass-roots organizing arm of the powerful Koch brothers network of conservative groups. “We have a job that’s not that hard. We have to make sure people understand the benefits they’re going to receive from this legislation.”
The Koch network will launch a multimillion-dollar push next year to sell the bill, with paid advertising and town halls to educate voters. A major GOP super PAC is planning to spend $10 million to protect House members. And another group, the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, plans to spend the majority of its $1 million annual budget selling the tax plan next year, according to one of the group’s founders, Stephen Moore, a distinguished visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an informal economic adviser to the president. …
The Koch network, which spent $15 million before the bill’s passage, is planning town halls with economists, members of Congress and accountants to explain the plan, as well as radio, television and digital advertising.
Phillips also said there will be more targeted efforts. For instance, he said, the groups might run digital ads on websites popular with young men who make less than $50,000 a year to remind them of the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which that group disproportionately paid the penalty for not complying with. They might also carry out tax prep work in Latino communities to highlight how families are saving money, he added. …”
It’s not just Gary Cohn and the Koch Brothers getting tax reform done – a donor class priority, which wasn’t a response to any groundswell of public support.
Sheldon Adelson bought our foreign policy and got Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Earlier in the year, Stephen Schwarzman convinced Donald Trump to break his campaign promise on the DACA amnesty. There was also the noticeable retreats from closing the carried interest loophole, the border tax and substantially changing our trade policy.
Basically, the Republican Party uses political power to reward its donors and move their agenda, and it retreats from the promises to White working class voters. Heading into 2018, they can boast that they have done the “things that a President Rubio or Cruz might have accomplished.” Virtually all the things that made Donald Trump interesting to us have been quietly forgotten.
No amount of spending is going to change the perception that this has become a conventional conservative administration in thrall to the interests of wealthy donors.