The “Then” of tax reform

The last time tax reform was undertaken was back during the Reagan presidency in 1986. The bill that eventually passed had both Republican and Democrat co-sponsors and was crafted by a bipartisan group of members of both houses of Congress. Separate bills from each of the two chambers went to conference where their differences were reconciled. The result passed the House by a vote of 292-136, and the Senate by a vote of 74-23. The bill became law on October 22, 1986.

What that bill  involved is less important than how it came into being; i.e. with bipartisan involvement from the get-go, and with solid bipartisan votes. The entire enterprise took over a year of negotiations, compromises, and finally agreement.

The “Now” of tax reform

What we are now witnessing stands in stark contrast to the foregoing:  Both House and Senate Republicans have completely closed out any input from Democrats. The House version was jammed through by a thin margin of just seven spare votes, and in a matter of weeks at that. It has been structured in such a way that it could be passed with a bare minimum of 217 votes. The Senate’s version will require just 51. That strategy was adopted so that not a single vote by a Democrat could derail this blatantly partisan undertaking.

With the House version passed, we now await what Senate Republicans are able to develop and pass. Then, as before, the separate versions will go to conference where they have to be reconciled. Once that final version emerges, we will have a better idea of what 2017 Republican tax reform looks like; who it benefits and who (if anyone) it hurts.

The “Then” of impeachment

The Watergate scandal, which led to President Nixon’s resignation, actually began on June 17, 1972 with the arrest of a small group of individuals who got caught in a burglary attempt at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Over two years later, on August 9, 1974, Nixon stepped down. In actuality, moving Nixon to resign was a fairly easy and straightforward process, advanced by the testimony of White House Counsel, John Dean, and the infamous tapes of Nixon plotting to abuse the power of his high office obstruct justice.

The “Now” of impeachment

As relatively simple as it was to make the case against Nixon in over two years, we should expect that the brief against Trump, such as it is now and may eventually become, is going to take longer; perhaps much longer. That is because the case against 45 is alleged to involve conspiring with Russian agents to effect our 2016 election, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, money laundering, perjury, and violation of the Logan Act (1).

If Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is anything, it is thorough. He will get to the bottom of each one of those potential crimes and level charges when they are warranted. This is all going to take time and public impatience notwithstanding, this critically important matter must be handled in that painstaking way. Wait patiently for real events as they unfold and don’t get caught up in speculations about what may be about to happen.

The “Then” of sexual harassment

When did all this men taking advantage of women get started? Truth be told, you can find the roots of it in our Holy Bible; both Old and New Testaments. The fact is, the “Good Book” is rife with verses (2) promoting the dogma that women  (especially wives) must be subservient to men (their husbands).

The idea that women were the “weaker” of the two sexes was undoubtedly reinforced by men’s brawn and ability carry on under physically demanding conditions that existed at the time (e.g. felling trees with an axe, breaking a horse, rolling/lifting big logs and stones, etc.). This very mindset found expression in the US Constitution wherein women were relegated to second class citizen status and denied the right to vote for 133 years (3).

Given this longstanding cultural context, men found themselves in a position where they had the potential to take advantage of women. Men who held some degree of influence or power over women in their midst found it even easier.

The “Now” of sexual harassment

For men, the “rules” haven’t changed all that much; i.e. if you have influence and/or power over women you encounter, you have the opportunity to use one or both to impose yourself on the woman who is at hand. What has changed and will continue to change, are the “rules” that now direct women’s behavior when they are the subject of harassment. Bearing up in silence is no longer the women’s norm. It is in the process of being replaced by speaking up and speaking out, forcefully if need be. That has brought us to an inflection point in our national conversation about the need to get beyond the history cited above (the “Then”) and the creation of a new culture built on mutual respect, the limits of gender-based power, and what will not be tolerated, especially in individuals who hold or are seeking public office.

This latter point deserves further comment. Both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were elected in spite of their well-publicized histories of predatory sexual behavior. Down in Alabama, Roy Moore is running for a seat in the US Senate even as he deals with charges of his past unwanted sexual advances brought out by women who were under ages at the time.

This brief history begs the question:  “If we are to continue to tolerate this, are we then by default, establishing that as the new normal?”

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  1. Briefly, the Logan Act makes it illegal for an unauthorized US citizen to negotiate foreign policy with some external entity.
  2.  See Genesis 3:16; Colossians 3:18 and/or Ephesians 5:21-23.
  3.  A US Constitutional Amendment gave women the right to vote on August 18, 1920.

 

 

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