With Christmas and the New Year right around the corner, it's time to write about the good things in life, not just the bad—the presents under the tree, if you will, as opposed to the coals in the stockings.
A year ago, in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election, it seemed unimaginable to have anything good to say about politics.
Well, I'm happy to say that the mood's a little cheerier this year. At the very least, for every lump of coal there's a present.
For instance, there's the giant lump of coal that is the
pending Republican tax bill—which probably will have passed by the time you read this. successfully passed Republican tax bill now on its way to Trump's desk. Not all the dreadfully redistributive details have yet been revealed, so it's hard to take a deep dive. Suffice it to say that limiting the deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 will have a devastating impact on Chicago and Illinois.
So un-thank you very much, Republican congressman Peter Roskam of DuPage County, for using your influence to help write a bill that will lead to higher taxes or social service cuts or both for your constituents. Here's hoping that the good people of the sixth district oust you in next year's election—now that would be a present worth unwrapping.
I mean, it's hard enough to get Republicans around here to sign on to any new taxes. It will be even harder to put together a coalition for a progressive income tax once voters learn they'll no longer be able deduct all their state and local taxes from the amount they owe in federal taxes.
The Trump and Rauner attack on progressive taxation is part of a larger Republican strategy to kill government by starving it of the money it needs to function. Or as Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist, once put it, the "goal is to . . . get government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
If this keeps up on federal level, Republicans will be pushing for cuts in social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and so forth.
At the local level, we'll be right back where we were before the Democrats passed this year's tax bill—struggling to pay basic school bills.
On the good news front there is . . . Alabama! Thanks to close to 100 percent of the black vote going to Doug Jones, the Democrats managed to eke out a victory over Roy Moore, the Republican pedophile. I mean, accused pedophile.
Of course, over 70 percent of the white people in Alabama—including a whole lot of women—voted for the pedophile. But I'm trying to be optimistic, so let's ignore that for the moment.
The vote in Alabama illustrates what Jesse Jackson's been trying to tell white liberals for years: good things happen when black people vote. As black voters tend to elect officials who support gay rights, reproductive rights, sane environmental safeguards, and other things white liberals care so much about.
So how about a little reciprocity in the coming year? All you white liberals should demand that Mayor Emanuel drop his proposal to give $2.2 billion to Amazon to bring its second headquarters to Chicago and instead spend it on the west and south sides. So he's opening schools and clinics for once, as opposed to closing them. Do it out of appreciation for Alabama's black voters who saved us from Moore.
My larger point is that there's now renewed hope for Democratic victories. If the Democrats can win a red state like Alabama, they should be able to regain ground in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and the other firewall states that crumbled back in 2016.
What else? Well, it's hard to remain optimistic with wildfires raging all over California, no doubt a result of global warming. We all know that President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords and issued executive orders intended to free up wetlands and sell off millions of acres of public land for development. Now it turns out that his appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency are investigating departmental employees who dare to speak up against these policies.
Apparently, under Trump, the right to free expression applies to Anne Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the torch-bearing Nazis who marched through Charlottesville but not to scientists, lawyers, and career civil servants.
So far they're being protected by a union contract that keeps Trump and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt from firing them. That union protection is something you liberals should consider as you watch Rauner and Trump tag-team to gut public workers' unions with lawsuits like the infamous Janus case that will be decided in the coming year.
That's the case initiated by Rauner right here in Illinois in order to cripple unions by not requiring members to pay dues. If Rauner wins, public unions stand to lose a big chunk of funding. This means they'll have less money to support the kind of politicians who, going back to Jesse Jackson, liberals love.
Speaking of Rauner, there are few things more irritating than to watch him race around the state blasting house speaker Michael Madigan for rounding up enough votes to override his veto of the tax hike.
Yes, Rauner fought against that tax hike. But when it came time to distribute the proceeds, he headed out to a school on the northwest side to take credit for dispersing the goodies.
So he was against the tax hike until it came time to take credit for its fruits, and now he's against it again.
Are you following all of that? Clearly, Rauner's betting you're not. Here's hoping that the present under next year's tree is the satisfaction of knowing that, this time around, voters weren't bamboozled. v