History’s judgment

History will judge the current Republican Congress harshly.

Their fellow citizens already are.

In a mid-November Quinnipiac University poll, a mere 15 percent approved of the way Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs, while 79 percent disapproved.

Never has a congressional party been so unpopular.

Neither have their leaders.

Just 25 percent of Americans approve of the way Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is handling his job as Senate Republican leader, 51 percent disapprove.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) scores only slightly better in the same poll — 31 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove — and he does even worse in other recent measurements.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are both more popular than their GOP counterparts.

Apparently convinced they can improve their public standing by passing legislation voters detest, the GOP wrote the most unpopular piece of tax legislation in some 40 years, as 538.com’s Harry Enten documented.

Remember George H.W. Bush exhorting voters to “read my lips, no new taxes” and then passing a tax hike? That was more popular than this. Remember Bill Clinton raising taxes? More popular than this.

Bush and Reagan tax cuts were favored by average margins ranging from 4 to 25 points.

This odious bill? It’s opposed by 14 points on average.

But historians are unlikely to be swayed so much by public opinion as by the damage the Republicans have inflicted on our country and on our institutions.

Congressional Republicans have debased our politics, assaulted the truth, ignored vital processes, lied to the American people, endorsed immorality and flouted reality like no party in modern times.

And they have empowered a psychologically impaired, intellectually deficient, amoral president, who seems hellbent on undermining the sometimes fragile foundations of our democracy.

Take the tax bill. Republicans were simply unwilling to be constrained by anything approaching reality.

As New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum noted, “Republicans and Democrats have long touted opposing analyses of the economics of taxation. People could look and judge the difference. It cannot be overstated how radical it is for Republicans to simply refuse to present an analysis.”

When the Republican controlled Joint Committee on Taxation used the “dynamic” scoring system that Republicans implored them to employ for 40 years, the number crunchers concluded the GOP bill would still add $1 trillion to the deficit.

How did Republicans respond? Did they alter the bill? Did they send it back for reconsideration? Did they worry they might be properly tagged with acute hypocrisy for pretending to be concerned about deficits for decades? No.

Without a pang of conscience, or a trace of embarrassment, they simply untethered themselves from reality, refused to engage in rational debate and said, “we disagree.”

No argument, no evidence, no fact — just a platitude or two. What was once the greatest deliberative body in the world put on a performance that would have been given an epic fail in any high school debate class in the country.

And then there are bald face lies.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed his department had conducted a study showing the bill would increase economic growth. Untrue.

Trump maintains the bill is “going to cost me a fortune.” That’s a lie — he benefits to the tune of over a billion dollars.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) claimed that three Republican economists told her the bill would pay for itself. They deny having made such a statement to Collins or anyone else.

The damage this bill will do to our country, to my children and theirs, is incalculable.

Unfortunately, the tax bill is far from the only example of these frightening trends.

Demagogic discourse and fact-free policy making have become the norm under the GOP, threatening both our material well-being and the health of our democracy.

History’s verdict on this Republican Congress may even be more scathing than the voters’.

Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has helped elect 30 U.S. senators, 12 governors and dozens of House Members. Mellman served as pollster to Senate Democratic Leaders for more than 20 years and as president of the American Association of Political Consultants.

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