Sohn: Bob Corker will forever own the tax-cuts scam

Sohn: Bob Corker will forever own the tax-cuts scam

December 20th, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters earlier this month after he was the lone Republican 'no' vote as the Senate passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades. Now he's a 'yes' vote. (Justin Gilliland/The New York Times)

Photo by JUSTIN GILLILAND

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Bob Corker should be ashamed.

A few weeks ago, he was the only Republican with enough backbone to vote no on the tax bill scam that passed in the Senate.

The bill was and is a rushed-up piece of legislation designed to make rich people richer at the expense of middle-class Americans and future generations by adding at least $1 trillion to our national debt. Among other things, this bill will virtually do away with estate taxes, which now apply only if a couple's estate tallies over $11 million. It also guts access to affordable insurance for at least 14 million people. And the only tax breaks that will remain past a few years are for the rich and corporations.

Now Corker is poised to become the Republican senator who gets the most credit for passing the final version of this bill.

The only discernible difference between today and a few weeks ago is a new measure added to the bill in a conference committee that sweetened the pot still more for the rich, especially those who make at least a portion of their living with commercial real estate — like Bob Corker; Donald Trump; Tennessee Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Diane Black; Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., and at least a dozen other members of Congress.

The tax-cuts bill, trumpeted to encourage job and wage growth, now includes special tax benefits to people who set up real estate corporations that ThinkProgress terms "little more than a legal fiction." Before this newest measure was inserted, people would have needed to prove they actually pay other people wages before qualifying for the deduction. The intent was a wage test to prevent the system from being gamed. Now, it is specifically designed to benefit people who own pass-through real estate corporations — with or without paying wages.

Corker, of course, bristled when "#Corkerkickback" became the moniker for his sudden change of heart and for this new provision added by House and Senate negotiators. But make no mistake, the original bill passed by the House did not have this same provision, nor did the original bill passed by the Senate.

Corker seems to have forgotten that he grandstanded for weeks about how he wouldn't vote for the bill if it adds "one penny" to the deficit.

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And he seems to have forgotten that this is what he said when he cast that "no" vote on the original Senate bill: "I wanted to get to yes. But at the end of the day, I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that I believe, based on the information I currently have, could deepen the debt burden on future generations."

Oh well. Sorry, future generations.

On Friday, Corker changed his tune, saying that while the final version of the bill "is far from perfect," it represents "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive."

A "once-in-a-generation opportunity" for whose businesses?

Corker could save as much as $1.2 million in taxes a year, based on his 2016 earnings, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research. Records obtained by the International Business Times and MapLight also show Corker's top aide, Todd Womack, who owns about 20 rental properties in $2 million worth of real estate through Generation 4 Properties in Chattanooga, also could benefit.

Now that the Corkers and Trumps of the world will save millions more on their taxes, look for that $1 trillion (that's a lot of pennies, Bob) added to the deficit to soar upward. (Where's all that deficit concern now, Senator?)

Over the weekend, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, added to the #Corkerkickback fire, saying the real estate provision was added as GOP leaders worked "to cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed, at the same time maintaining the integrity of the largest tax cuts we're going to be seeing since 1986."

Certainly Corker was one of those needed votes. In fact, he may well have been the most-coveted vote.

Of course, Corker went all out in getting fellow Republicans to come to his defense and assert that neither he nor his staff had any part in adding this provision. But that's not the point. The vote is the point.

Corker even said he didn't know the provision was in the bill when he said he'd vote for it. Why? Because he said he hadn't finished reading the final version.

Funny. Our Corker — the one who's such a stickler for being prepared — hadn't read the final version, yet he was already on board with it and announced he would vote for the bill. Does that sound like our Bob Corker?

In October, Corker said: "Deficits matter. They're a greater threat to us than North Korea or [the Islamic State]."

But that was then. Today is different day.

Today, Corker may again be angling for higher office — like Secretary of State if Rex Tillerson falls further out of favor.

And today, with Republican Sen. John McCain ill at home in Arizona, perhaps Corker dares not vote against and derail his party's only chance at a legislative success in Trump's first year.

Today, we wonder exactly what Sen. Corker would have us believe.

Should we think he's asleep at the wheel?

Or should we believe he's for sale — either for tax breaks for the rich, for party adulation, for future political currency — or all of the above?

Either way, Sen. Bob Corker now owns this tax scam.

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