News & opinion by Robert
(BERKELEY, CA.) --
One of the most
dangerous consequences of this awful period in American life is the
of the truth, and of institutions and people who tell it.
There are two
kinds of liars – fools and
knaves. Fools lie because they don’t know the truth. Knaves lie because
intend to mislead.
Trump is both,
because he doesn’t even care
enough about the truth to find out what it is. He’ll say whatever he
will get people to believe what he wants them to believe.
people like Treasury Secretary
Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s point person on the Republican tax bills now
their way through Congress?
continues to insist that the
legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1
year, and reduce taxes on everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually
everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a
tax cut,” Mnuchin says
prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes
that by 2027, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone
richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher
those at the lower levels will receive only modest
So is Mnuchin a
fool? His career before he
became Treasury Secretary doesn’t suggest so. He graduated from Yale,
and worked for seventeen years for investment bank Goldman
doesn’t find the Tax Policy
Center credible. Maybe he agrees with Trump economic adviser Peter
describes it as “a left-leaning center that produces analyses that
Democratic tax-and-spend programs and disfavor Republican programs.”
In the age of Trump,
organizations once considered non-partisan are either “with us”
or “against us.”
virtually all other studies by
every other source show the House and Senate tax bills overwhelmingly
the rich and, within a few years, harm the middle class.
own Joint Committee on
Taxation – the House and Senate’s official scorekeeper on tax issues – finds
that the Senate’s version of the bill would increase
taxes on all income
groups making under $75,000 per year.
By 2027, it
would give its biggest tax
breaks to those making $1 million or more. The House bill would be even
generous to millionaires and billionaires.
response? He has none. He just
keeps repeating the same lie.
maintains that the Senate and
House tax plans won’t cause the federal deficit to rise. “This isn’t
said recently. “We’ll create economic growth to pay down the
But even the
Tax Foundation – a major
proponent of the corporate tax cuts – estimates
the House bill will cause a $1.08 trillion revenue loss over ten years
Senate bill, a $516 billion loss.
Mnuchin isn’t a fool, he’s a knave.
He intends to deceive the public.
By doing so he
has abandoned his duty to the
American people inherent in the oath of office taken by every cabinet
in favor of advancing the goals of his boss and other Republicans in
who are desperate to pass their tax bill.
He has also
sacrificed his credibility and
he’s Secretary of the Treasury
in an administration that has no integrity. Merely by joining Trump, he
Faustian bargain and lost whatever integrity he might have had.
after Trump equated white
supremacists with protesters in Charlottesville, and several hundred of
Mnuchin’s Yale classmates urged him to resign in protest, Mnuchin found
it “hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this,
demanded that NFL owners deal
harshly with black athletes protesting police brutality, Mnuchin said
the athletes should “do free speech on their own time. This is about
for the military and first responders in the country.”
Mnuchin will say anything to
retain his power and influence in the Trump administration.
He knows he’ll
never have anything close to
this power again.
probably figures: So what if he lies
about the true consequences of the tax bills? Trump lies about them,
does the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and the Senate Majority
assumes most of the public will
never know he lied. Even those who know will soon forget. In this era
Trumpian big lies, there are no consequences for lying.
But history may
not be kind to Steve
Over the last
century, authoritarian and
fascist regimes have intentionally and systematically denigrated the
The knaves who
helped them are remembered in
ROBERT B. REICH
the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of
Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing
He served as
secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and Time magazine
one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century.
Mr. Reich has
written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The
Nations, Beyond Outrage and most recently Saving
He is also a
founding editor of The American Prospect magazine,
chairman of Common
Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and
the award-winning documentary INEQUALITY FOR ALL.
tags: Donald Trump, gas lighting, alternative facts, Steve Mnuchin,
Joint Committee on Taxation, Tax Policy