In their early efforts to define the narrative around President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan, Republican leaders turned to their lone African American senator to frame their sketchy policy with a slang-like message purportedly aimed at working- and middle-class voters.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), standing in front of a tri-fold step-and-repeat panel with the words “Tax Reform” staggered over it and looking directly into a camera, declares that the president’s tax plan is about “helping the average American take home more of their pay by taking less out of their pay” in a video released Wednesday.
Then, with a dramatic flourish, he holds up a sheet of white paper with a hashtagged message. “I like to put it very simply,” Scott says, as the camera zooms in to a close-up of the senator’s hands and the paper. “We want to help you #KeepYoMoney.”
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) September 28, 2017
But the marketing ploy misses its mark. Indeed, it’s unclear at this point whether the administration’s tax package will help average Americans, but leaves no doubt that it advantages the wealthy like Trump and many members of his cabinet and inner circle. Nevertheless, Republicans are attempting to shape initial public perception of Trump’s plan, which is still under construction, by casting it and themselves as a populist heroes.
So when Scott speaks in jive — street vernacular popularly imagined to be common among black folks — to support the president’s tax plan, he’s not really sending a message to poor, working-class or black Americans. No, he’s playfully entertaining wealthy white folks who stand to benefit the most from Trump’s plan.
Someone was watching the Wayans Brothers on Hulu pic.twitter.com/0gg2LLQh4f
— A Petty Stuart (@chronic_mom) September 28, 2017
For Scott to peddle the GOP tax reform package with a minstrel’s zeal betrays a pandering attitude toward an administration that has gone out of its way to demonstrate contempt for black Americans. Little wonder that a recent survey, conducted by PerryUndem and administered by the University of Chicago’s NORC AmeriSpeak panel and funded by the Ford Foundation, found great pessimism with the country’s direction under Trump.
Specifically, the poll of 1,003 African Americans found that 84 percent felt the country was on the wrong track and two-thirds believe Trump’s policies will disadvantage black people.
Indeed, Trump’s disdain for the concerns of black Americans prompted the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) to issue a letter on Thursday expressing “utter disgust” with the president’s handling of racial issues in the nation. In his letter, Richmond noted the president’s “disgraceful response to nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice by professional football players, owners, coaches and countless other patriots.”
Yet, Scott willingly played his part in the rollout of the Trump tax plan.
Lol. This video is the GOP in a nutshell. “Let’s replace ‘your’ with ‘yo’. The ‘Blacks’ will love it!” How much was your soul Senator?
— Bob (@Gigs39) September 28, 2017
The GOP sales job began with Trump appearing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, a setting that drips with middle-America imagery, where he announced the new policy by promising it would lower taxes, create jobs, and raise wages. “This is a revolutionary change, and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor and as wages start going up at levels that you haven’t seen in many years,” Trump said.
That’s not evident from the plan he and Republican leaders have sprung on the public. Details in the proposal, which observers say faces an uncertain path through Congress, call for reducing the existing seven individual tax brackets down to three, with tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. A possible fourth bracket, somewhere above 35 percent, could be created, if Congress deems that the wealthy should pay more. At present, the tax rates range from 10 percent to 39.6 percent.
Additionally, the tax proposal calls for doubling the individual standard deduction to $12,000 and to $24,000 for married couples who file jointly. Also the plan increases the $1,000 child tax credit to some figure yet to be determined and creates a new $500 credit for non-child dependents, presumably the elderly. These provisions are aimed at eliminating the need to figure out multi-page tax forms with manifold deductions and credits, rendering the tax form to a hoped-for postal card format.
But the plan lays out greater specifics for the well-to-do, with provisions to do away with the alternate minimum tax and the estate tax. The proposal would reduce taxes on corporations from 35 percent to 20 percent. And, a new tax rate of 25 percent would be created for businesses such as partnerships and sole proprietorships, which are currently taxed at the top rate of their owners.
Taken as a whole, the Trump plan remains a mysterious work in progress. In fact, nobody knows for sure how the plan would help middle- or low-income taxpayers because what has been released thus far lacks details about the tax plan’s costs or specifics on how working people would benefit from it.
What is clear is that the tax plan would greatly benefit the wealthiest Americans — including the president himself, contrary to his claims otherwise — because repeal the estate tax and eliminate the alternative minimum tax.
As a candidate for president, Trump argued that black and Hispanic Americans had nothing to lose, if he became president. Not so. The tax plan that Scott has given a jive Twitter endorsement is yet one more example exhibiting this administration’s true colors.