Larry Pressler: Beware of sugary tax-cut talk

J. Scott Applewhite, AP

The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, July 31, 2017.

Wow! We had quite a two-week period here in Washington, D.C. From my perch across the street from the State Department, near the White House, and with the Pentagon visible across the Potomac, I have observed some basic decisions finally being made:

1. Our nation has decided to neither repeal nor replace Obamacare. We did that on two awkward, convulsive votes in the Senate, in which it was decided not to repeal or to replace. Now, senators are scrambling to begin some kind of amendment process to repair and shore up the existing Obamacare. It will be very expensive in terms of federal health care subsidies needed this fall.

2. President Donald Trump appears to have finally decided to make a restart. He is streamlining his staff, getting tough with dissident personalities, leaks and the rather strange behavior that has been coming out of the White House. General John Kelly, the new chief of staff, will bring a much needed sense of discipline and we finally are putting the right foot forward. Hopefully this restart will include a limitation on some of the president’s more erratic tweets.

3. The United States has adopted sanctions on Russia. I don’t agree. I am a passionate free trader. Sanctions just don’t work. Russia is a country that will stay there and we might as well trade with them and keep those channels open. For example, years of sanctions on Cuba did not result in a regime change. It probably enhanced Castro. I believe President Trump and Secretary Tillerson are correct to oppose sanctions, but Congress voted so overwhelmingly that the president had to sign the legislation.

4. Now, both parties and the president are cheerfully talking about a tax cut. This is politically very popular, but I think it is escapism. Senate Republicans in particular want to pivot from health care to a more popular subject. However, health care will not go away because collapsing Obamacare must be addressed by fixing it with major subsidies. Congress hates to do that because it is heavy lifting, but tax cuts have all the political sugary sweetness of a…

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