Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2017

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Where I Stand:

Tax reform and Russia: hoaxes real and imagined

When is a hoax not a hoax?

As I write this on Friday morning, I am struck by the sounds of silence on the cable news channels about the “ largest tax cut in the history of the planet” or some other such nonsensical description of what Congress is trying to pass off to the American people as tax reform.

By now ,the Senate should have mustered the votes to pass the tax bill and move it back to the House for a conference to work out the kinks — you know, like whether to give the billionaires more billions and whether to kill health care mandates (read that as killing health care as we know it) or whether to reduce taxes for corporations while raising them for working-class taxpayers. You know, the easy stuff!

As a tax-reform package designed to help the middle class, there is one word for what is being done: hoax.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t parts of this package that are helpful, because there are. Especially the parts where I pay less in taxes and my neighbors pay more. There is a lot of that “wealth re-distribution” going around, especially distributing what little the middle- and working-class Americans have to the wealthiest among us.

But, as a tax-reform package being sold as a boon to the middle class, well, hoax is the only word I can think of right now to describe what is happening. The irony, of course, is that the vast majority of the very people who did and still support President Donald Trump are the same people who will be hurt by this tax scheme in the long run.

But, who cares? I am getting a tax break.

So why were the airwaves so still on the biggest day in the planet’s history, so silent when the votes for tax cutting finally came through to hand the president his first big win for the year?

Because while the Senate — including Nevada’s own Sen. Dean Heller, who advanced his political death wish by voting to hurt so many working Nevadans in favor of his rich donors — was diddling around with our taxes, the special prosecutor was doing some diddling of his own. He was giving lie to President Trump’s biggest lie.

And that is that “the whole Russia hoax.”

If it was a hoax, why did Trump’s National Security adviser — the closest person to Trump on matters of American security — plead guilty in Federal Court to lying to the FBI about his meetings with the Russians?

If this Russia thing is a hoax — which has been Trump’s position all along to his followers in order to keep them on his side — why did special counsel Robert Mueller cut Gen. Michael Flynn a sweetheart of a deal in order to get him to roll over on higher ups in the Trump administration? Would Flynn have been dealt a much harsher fate had he not had something of value to give to the prosecutor about who was playing footsie with America’s enemy?

Hoax, indeed. This sounds very much like the real thing to me. And I am guessing there are plenty of people in and around the White House this weekend, not the least of whom should be our president and members of his family, who are hearing the same sounds.

Whether it has been through their sheer stupidity or conniving skullduggery, it appears more real than ever that the special counsel is bearing down on the culprits in the Trump administration who thought that cozying up to our Russian enemies during and after the election was OK. It was not and it is not.

And, just in case the message has been lost on anyone — especially those who still think Trump is the be-all and end-all — the Russian interference in our elections, the Russia probe by the special counsel and the congressional investigations into the influence meddling and peddling are, indeed, real.

This is not a hoax.

Tax reform is a different story. If you are a member of the great American middle class, the hoax is on you. Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.