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Editorial cartoon (1/10/2018)

The end of 2017 was marked by a nearly comedic chorus of punditry extolling what a great year it was, after all, for Donald Trump.

The passage of a tax bill that is certain to exacerbate the already-dangerous divide between the rich and the poor in America was hailed as a major legislative "accomplishment" to go along with Trump's own boasts about what a marvelous year 2017 has been for him.

"We have more legislative victories than any other president," the liar-in-chief claimed, the most since Harry Truman back in 1949. When it was pointed out that the claim wasn't even close to being true (he's actually signed the fewest bills into law of any first-year president since Dwight Eisenhower), he simply repeated it dozens of times over the holidays and, of course, his base ate it up — proving once again that if you repeat a lie enough times many people will believe it to be true.

The chortling over passage of the tax cuts (which Trump insisted was the largest ever in U.S. history; another lie, it's the eighth largest) prompted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to muse how strange it is to "brag" about a new law that cuts corporate taxes by about 40 percent and leaves 13 million more Americans without health insurance.

But I suppose if your real agenda is further comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted, you can call eliminating the insurance mandate an "accomplishment."

Let's take a look at some of those other Trump "accomplishments" from 2017.

While the tax bill lowers the top income-tax bracket and allows real estate and other business interests to deduct 20 percent off the top of their income for starters, middle-class taxpayers, who will wind up paying fewer taxes initially, will see that benefit disappear by 2025 when the new rates are phased out. But the biggest cost to the economy is yet another $1.5 trillion added to the national debt during a time when the economy is doing quite well and the country ought to be able to afford to pay down some debt.

Republicans have always maintained that Democrats spend and add to the national debt. But the truth is that when the GOP enacted big tax cuts when Ronald Reagan was president, the national debt tripled, forcing his successor, fellow Republican George H.W. Bush, to enact a tax hike. When Democrat Bill Clinton added a surcharge to the top bracket, the budget actually showed a surplus in his second four-year term.

That prompted George W. Bush, instead of paying down the debt or perhaps shoring up the Social Security Trust Fund that's continually been robbed by the federal Treasury, to along with his Republicans enact yet another tax cut. That, in turn, plunged the country into an enormous budget hole, again adding to the national debt, which got even worse when new president Barack Obama was forced to enact emergency spending during the Great Recession he inherited from Bush.

Now, after the economy was brought back in Obama's final six years, Trump's "accomplishment" is to go back to the "good, old days."

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But, aside from the tax cuts, the biggest danger facing the country because of Trump's supposed "accomplishments" is his assault on good-government regulation that protects not only our environment, but our financial system and American consumers.

Many of those attacks on sensible rules — whether it's been to abandon air quality standards or overturn sensible water safeguards — are going to have long-lasting negative impacts on the nation's health and the well-being of our children. But, under Trump and his enablers in Congress, it's an "accomplishment" to put profits ahead of common-sense rules.

Abandoning the climate change initiatives, repealing internet neutrality, neutering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, killing an Obama-era provision that prevents the mentally ill from obtaining firearms, scaling back national monuments that were enacted to protect unique American lands from private development, rolling back health laws that mandate employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, telling the "Dreamers" who are in America through no fault of their own that they are not welcome, plus dozens of other similar "accomplishments" are, instead, true outrages.

If this is making America great again, we're indeed in big trouble.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. Zweifel is the co-author, along with John Nichols, of the new book "The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It's available on the Historical Society website, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

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