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Have you read about the #CorkerKickBack?

David Sirota and Josh Keefe broke the story that the Junior Senator, and oh-so very troubled Republican, from Tennessee changed his vote on the tax bill after the conference committee added provisions that would net him a significant amount of money. Corker is, of course, shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in the legislative branch. But Senator John Cornyn says that the provisions were added to win votes, which, to be fair, could be any number of waffling Republicans who stand to personally profit.

Lest the GOP’s general corruption and self-dealing distract you from the policy substance, Fareed Zakaria does a nice job explaining some of the reasons why massive, pro-cyclical, inequality-enhancing tax cuts are a form of American #geopoliticalsuicide.

There are genuine problems beyond underfunding. The costs of building American infrastructure are astronomical. But during the Depression, World War II and much of the Cold War, a sense of crisis and competition focused America’s attention and created a bipartisan urgency to get things done. Ironically, at a time when competition is far more fierce, when other countries have surpassed the United States in many of these areas, America has fallen into extreme partisanship and embraced a know-nothing libertarianism that is starving the country of the essential investments it needs for growth. Those who vote for this tax bill — possibly the worst piece of major legislation in a generation — will live in infamy, as the country slowly breaks down.

See also Michael Cohen, who notes that: “In short, if the GOP tax bill becomes law it will make the United States less competitive with the rest of the world, will weaken our democracy, and will hasten American decline — which, truth be told, has already begun.”

Fun fact: the route to conserving American greatness runs through progressive—nay, social democratic—policies. We need major investments in infrastructure, human capital, and research and development; we need robust social insurance that facilitates entrepreneurship and labor mobility; and we need to pay for it in ways that disrupt oligarchic concentrations of wealth and enhance equality of opportunity.

Our decades-long experiment in trickle-down economics and radical deregulation has produced deficits, boom-and-bust cycles, and the hollowing out of democratic institutions. We liberalized trade, but failed to capture enough of the surplus to compensate those who lost out. The US is still the wealthiest country on the planet, but it’s literally and figuratively falling apart.

Yes, relative power is shifting away from America. That’s pretty much inevitable. But we can exert some control over the speed of this shift, its consequences, and the overall strength of the American polity. Trump and the GOP seem intent on snorting some cocaine, flooring the accelerator, tossing the wheel out the window, and driving straight off one of our crumbling bridges.

The #CorkerKickBack is just a little joke piled on top of the farce.

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