Rewriting Our American Dream

The Tax Plan’s Biggest Change Doesn’t Involve Numbers

Democrats and Republican’s both claim that the GOP’s newly-released tax plan is a radical departure from the status quo.

Republicans say this is a big cut for the Middle Class and will spark economic opportunity for all.

Democrats say this is a big tax hike for working Americans and a big giveaway to the richest Americans.

Democrats (and some Republicans) say that the plan will balloon the deficit tremendously beyond our current levels.

But the GOP’s plan isn’t just about tax policy. It’s about the redefinition of what it means to be an American and our duty to our fellow citizens of The United States.

The GOP’s Tax Plan Rewrites American History

This isn’t a new fight. Since the very beginning, there have been two competing visions for America. Jefferson and Hamilton were squarely at odds at who this nation could and should be . Each believed their path to our founding principles of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ could be achieved through their own competing philosophies.

The Jeffersonian tradition thought that individual wealth free from other’s interference was the key to prosperity. The Hamiltonian philosophy envisioned a nation with big ambitions, whose innovative cooperation would propel us to achieving those big goals. And, in the words Michael Lind, author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States,

In the spirit of philosophical bipartisanship, it would be pleasant to conclude that each of these traditions of political economy has made its own valuable contribution to the success of the American economy and that the vector created by these opposing forces has been more beneficial than the complete victory of either would have been.
But that would not be true.

Lind concludes that what is good about America is largely the result of the Hamiltonian developmental model. And that there is a neat line that can be drawn between our nation’s eras of prosperity and triumph. From Washington to Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, thru the end of slavery and segregation.

And an equally straight and true line can be drawn between eras of inequality and injustice thru periods where the Jeffersonian philosophy reigned supreme.

Despite generations of conclusive testing and results, libertarian leaders like Paul Ryan continue to engage in the long con of the American people. They appeal to the sticker shock we feel when we see the deductions on our paystubs. Their philosophy would rewrite our nation’s greatest achievements to make us believe that corporate titans and billionares are responsible for our success — not the labor and hard work of individuals united under a common cause.

Who Is Responsible for Making America Great?

In the Washington Post’s dive into the tax bill, Heather Long reports:

At heart, the GOP plan cuts taxes on large businesses and pays for those reductions by raising taxes on individuals, the exact opposite of what was done in the 1986 Tax Reform Act under President Ronald Reagan. Republicans have long held up the 1986 effort — which did not add to the deficit — as a model.

Bills like this signal that leaders like Paul Ryan think that corporate profits drive American success . He promises our money to people who have everything they’d ever need — and ensures we’ll foot the bill.

Leaders like Paul Ryan lack the ability to envision a truly great nation. He believes that the best of America is made by just a few solitary individuals — stingy corporate demigods who spark all the progress and innovation in America.

But that would not be true.

It wasn’t a behemoth agricorporation like Monsanto that healed the dust bowl, it was us — the farmers and scientists who boldy experimented new and innovative agricultural practices.

It wasn’t General Electric that won World War II, it was us — the men and women in the theater of war and at home who built our Armed Forces.

It wasn’t Standard Oil who made energy affordable, it was us — and our belief that when a community had access to energy it could power innovation.

It wasn’t Microsoft or Apple that invented the internet, it was us — through experimentation and radical investment in our institutions.

It wasn’t Big Pharma that cured polio or pioneered the pacemaker , it was us — and we used it to help heal the world.

It wasn’t SpaceX who put a man on the moon, it was us — teams of scientists and courageous Americans who dared to dream of a universe just above our heads.

It wasn’t a subsidiary of Koch Industries who built the interstate highway system, it was us — and we connected our nation like never before.

It wasn’t Prudential who decided that those who worked their entire lives deserved dignity in their later years, it was us.

It wasn’t Tyson Foods that decided Americans deserved safe food and water, it was us.

It wasn’t Wells Fargo who stabilized the stock market and ended dangerous investment schemes on Wall Street, it was us.

Plans like the GOP’s tax bill have led to the destruction of American manufacturing. Plans like their bill have led to the gross and un-American inequality we live in today. And most dangerously, plans like this bill have made Americans believe they’re no longer capable of doing incredible things.

If Paul Ryan is to be believed, the only people who can make America great are the ones who have it all already. That our Government Of the People, By the People, and For the People is a dead end. You’re only an American worthy of investment if you’ve already made it to owner’s club.

This bill ensures that we’ll continue to struggle all on our own. Ryan and his crew tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But we’ve only got on our old tennis shoes and these damn politicians are standing on our shoelaces.

This bill doesn’t guarantee we will have more to pay for education or healthcare. It doesn’t guarantee we’ll be able to buy our own home or prepare for retirement. And it doesn’t solve our most pressing national issues.

Small thinking by small men. But it’s easy to think small when you’ve got one objective: All for ourselves and nothing for other people.

What’s Our American Promise?

As far as I can remember, the people with the capital don’t need the investment. The American people need start-up money. Big corporations have reaped the profit for years, but edged out competitive new ideas and businesses by buying them up.

I refuse to believe that the American dream ends with being bought out by a tech company. When you ask people about their American dream, I doubt they’d say they’d like to be an expense line in a report on Mark Zukerberg’s desk. The destiny in our veins is made for more.

If only you and I could afford to snap up innovative companies like Google or Facebook does every day. Our government used to invest like that — to the benefit of every American. And, as it was designed to be, our Government is Us.

There’s never been a bigger absorber of risk and and reaper of reward than the American people’s government, our United States. It’s time we allow ourselves to dream big again and to do it together.

But that means we must first kill this bill.