But Trump’s theatrics were also very convenient because they disguised the fact that he cannot now, or ever, deliver on his signature promise to create a “great” infrastructure program. This is why Trump “infrastructure weeks” have become a standing joke in Washington. LaTourette was right: The Republican Party is no longer interested in spending public money to solve big problems if doing so gets in the way of cutting taxes.
LaTourette explained this in his rough-and-ready way back in 2011 when he called the 2010 tea party class of Republicans “knuckledraggers that came in in the last election that hate taxes.”
One of those newcomers was Mick Mulvaney, now Trump’s acting chief of staff and budget director. From the moment Trump, Pelosi and Schumer announced their convergence on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan last month, Mulvaney began sabotaging it. “Is it difficult to pass any infrastructure bill in this environment, let alone a $2 trillion one, in this environment? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said.
He was far from alone because the entire Republican leadership in Congress is now part of the Knuckledraggers Caucus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly signaled that he had absolutely no interest in a big infrastructure plan if it required rolling back any part of the GOP’s 2017 corporate tax cut.
Democrats argue that because business is clamoring for infrastructure, it would make sense to ask business to foot part of the bill. They have suggested raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from the 21 percent enshrined in the 2017 law and pulling back on some of its other provisions.
No way, say the Republicans. A “nonstarter,” declared McConnell. Faced with the choice of bridges collapsing in a heap or reining in the tax giveaways, the bridges don’t have much of a chance.
Note that the meeting Trump sabotaged was about how to finance the plan. He had no way of coming up with anything constructive because, for all of his bravado, he is totally under the thumb of Congress’s conservative ideologues. His tantrum was part of the coverup no one is talking about: The emperor has no money.
This fact underscores a widespread misunderstanding about our politics. “Normal” Republicans are regularly described as privately horrified with Trump. Trump is said to have engaged in “a hostile takeover” of the GOP.
In fact, it’s Trump who has been taken over. He campaigned as a different kind of Republican, and his infrastructure promise was a major component of his antiideological image. But on all the things the ideologues and right-wing business interests care about —
Trump caves in.
We know the president’s boast that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” Perhaps Republicans in Congress wouldn’t go that far. Otherwise, they’ll keep standing with him as long as he prostrates himself before their tax-cutting god, even if this means showing he is too weak and powerless to fix the roads.
Limbaugh accused Mueller of seeking to “nullify” Trump’s 1995 IRS claim of approximately $900 million in operational losses in order to pursue a reclamation of the money with added penalties and accrued interest:
And these requests, the subpoena for documents from the Trump Organization, I ask you again, what has that to do with the campaign and with collusion and with the Russians? They’ve already been looking into Trump business in Russia with the Miss, what is it, USA, whatever his pageant is.
Do you all remember during the early days of the campaign there was news that Trump, in a tax return something like 20 years ago, took a $900 million deduction that was granted and survived an audit by the IRS? Now, I forget the details. It had to do with losses that he had incurred in that year in building things. It was around 900 or $920 million deduction. I’ll never forget when it was reported because most people will never come close to ever having that in a lifetime, and to have a guy personally write that much off?
… Anyway, I think Mueller wants that $920 million back. I think Mueller wants to prove that that was a faulty deduction. I think that they want to go back, they want to get Trump’s tax returns because they want to nullify that $900 million deduction, and then they want to collect 20 years of interest and penalties and wipe Trump out.
Limbaugh also challenged the pervasive framing of Mueller as an honorable man across the joint news media and political landscape:
We’ve been told as long as I have been aware of the name Robert Mueller, we are told that Mr. Mueller is a man of impeccable character, a man of refined tastes, a man of immense sophistication and qualification. The man was a judge, he ran the FBI, he is a fair person. He’s an all-round good guy. And in terms of people in Washington when it comes to the integrity, there are none with any more integrity than Robert Mueller.
Well, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t fit with what we see this man doing. And what I ask myself is, does Mueller ever get up and ask himself, “What the hell am I doing? I don’t have a crime here. I don’t have any evidence of a crime.” Does Mueller ever get up or does anybody on his team, do they get up in the morning and they ever ask themselves, are we really doing the right thing here in seeking to destroy an American citizen whose only audacious behavior is winning the presidency?
.. A man of honor and integrity, suggested Limbaugh, would not accept a limitless role to pursue the political destruction of President Donald Trump: “There aren’t any limits on this guy! There is no crime that he has been charged with investigating. He’s been given a free rein to go find a crime anywhere he wants!”
“We’re told this guy’s the best of the best,” said Limbaugh. “We’re told this guy, nobody could hold a candle to him in terms of honesty and integrity and character. Well, then how does somebody with all of those fine traits even participate in a sham like this?”
Mueller’s mandate to “investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters” — issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — lists no financial or temporal limitations. In addition to a nebulous scope, no specific crimes are listed within the mandate.