EDITORIAL: The tweets of fools are their undoing
As strenuously as most elected officials struggle to manage their message in interviews and public appearances, it is often when they are in total control of the conversation — i.e., communicating through social media — that they inadvertently offer a window into their own political souls.
House Speaker Paul Ryan offered one such window over the weekend and, though he quickly attempted to board it up, the result was not so much a view through the glass as through the looking glass.
For Ryan’s message could not have been curiouser.
The subject was the recently passed GOP tax cuts — an issue President Trump has been trumpeting with characteristic humility and subtlety. “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history,” he declared during his State of the Union address last week. (Never mind that economic experts say that it is actually the eighth-largest tax cut as a percentage of GDP.)
While the tax cuts have been roundly criticized for disproportionately benefiting the wealthy, Ryan evidently sought to show how they are helping those on the other end of the economic spectrum. Waaayyyy on the other end.
“A secretary at a high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week,” the Wisconsin Republican posted in a (not surprisingly) hastily deleted Tweet. “(S)he said (that) will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”
We can immediately deduce two things from this tweet:
— Costco memberships in Lancaster, Pa., cost less than $78 a year.
— Paul Ryan is not the best spokesperson for the new Republican-driven tax cuts.
Indeed, Ryan inadvertently shined a spotlight on the very imbalance that puts the lie to GOP claims that their effort was a “middle class” tax cut.
The Lancaster school secretary over whom the Speaker briefly swooned will realize something like $625 in tax cuts between now and 2025, when tax breaks for her and the rest of the middle class expire.
Those are merely crumbs compared to the largesse realized by the donor class, including the wealthiest 1 percent, who will not only enjoyed an estimated 80 percent of total tax cuts, but who will enjoy those breaks in perpetuity.
And yet, according to Ryan’s thinking, low-end wage earners should be celebrating their temporary pittance and congressional Republicans should be celebrated for providing it.
No surprise that the online blowback to Ryan’s tweet was swift and savage. One representative sample from writer Parker Molloy:
“You gave $1.5 TRILLION to the richest people on the planet, and you’re using an anecdote about someone making an extra 21 cents a day to argue it was good for the rest of us? Hahahahahaha”
It would, indeed, be funny if it weren’t so depressing. Ryan & Co. are either so hopelessly out of touch, or so brazenly unconcerned, that they really do believe the tiny, temporary tax cuts that many low- and middle-class workers will realize justify the fortunes they have lavished on the wealthiest.
Oh, and they’ll soon be looking for ways to slash funding from programs like Medicare and Social Security to help pay for those cuts.
“The mouths of fools are their undoing,” Proverbs (18:7) tells us. Or, in this day and age, the tweets of fools are their undoing.
What really should be undone is notoriously partisan legislation that rewards the richest among us, who then reward the congressional lapdogs who ram it through.