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The dog that didn’t bark: Why Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal didn’t pick a debate winner. Plus: Trump’s tax plan

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Not only did Tuesday’s WSJ not say who won, they didn’t even mention the debate in their editorials or in opinion pieces. It’s like the historic Clinton-Trump smackdown never happened.

Why the silence? Well, the answer is obvious: Hillary crushed Trump, and not even the WSJ’s most violent attack dogs dared claim otherwise. So they chose to keep it on the DL. The only political “journalist” I know of who claimed Trump won was the San Francisco Chronicle’s rightwing second-rater, Debra J. Saunders, the most locally-detested Big City columnist in the country.

Now, onto taxes!

The most telling point of Monday’s debate was when Trump declared, with that little self-satisfied smirk we’ve come to know so well, that not paying any federal income taxes, despite the billionaire status he brags about, “makes me smart.”

Well, that’s another lie from Melania’s husband. It doesn’t make him “smart.” It just means he’s another rich guy who can afford to hire expensive tax lawyers, who find loopholes for their clients to wiggle out of paying their fair share—loopholes that, not so coincidentally, were created by Republican lawmakers who personally benefit from campaign contributions by the very people they help to avoid paying taxes!

Now, the rich like to point out statistics showing that they actually pay the lion’s share of all taxes collected by the Federal government. For example, the newspaper of record of the rich—the Wall Street Journal—routinely publishes studies like this, stating that the “Top 20% of Earners Pay 84% of Income Tax.” By using figures like this, the Wall Street Journal attempts to shift resentment by ordinary middle-class Americans away from tax-dodging billionaires onto “the bottom 20% [who] get paid by Uncle Sam.”

That’s the good old-fashioned plutocratic way: use smoke and mirrors to make the middle class think that their real economic enemy isn’t tax-evading billionaires who rig the system, but poor people.

Republicans always have played into this propaganda; Donald Trump simply has exploited it to heretofore unseen heights. But let’s break it down. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the richest Americans have been making more money, but paying less taxes, for the last fifty years. “The richest 1% of Americans own 35% of the nation’s wealth,” and yet the rate at which they’re taxed has been dropping like a stone: 91% in the 1950s, a paltry 43.4% today. And yet Trump is now calling for even further reductions in taxes for the ultra-wealthy. “I’m going to cut taxes big league,” he said in Monday’s debate (which must have been music to Rupert Murdoch’s ears). Now, where have we heard that before? From Ronald Reagan, of course, who famously instituted the Republicans’ practice of cutting taxes on the rich, which proved to have a disastrous impact on the deficit. Even Forbes magazine—the “capitalist tool”—said “The numbers don’t lie—why lowering taxes for the rich no longer works to grow the economy.” The Reagan deficits were awful, but led to an even greater and more disruptive consequence: income inequality, which is now the worst in the nation’s history. In this fascinating study, from the well-regarded (and hardly liberal) Financial Times, we see the statistics in stark horror: the poor getting poorer, the rich getting richer, the middle class getting squeezed. The result: Inequality in income and wealth is a troubling headwind for the American economy, it’s getting worse, and it’s a real danger looming in our political future.”

And now here comes Donald J. Trump, the billionaire squire of Mar-a-Lago, defending this Republican policy of cutting taxes for his class, and promising to further cut taxes on his friends and neighbors in Palm Beach and Trump Tower. He could not get away with such nonsense, of course, if so many Americans did not vote against their own self-interests. But they do, blinded by religious or emotional malarkey and goaded by Republicans who exploit every resentment, every fear people have. It used to be Communists that Republicans utilized to make Americans afraid. When the Cold War ended and Communism could no longer be used as a straw man, Republicans went after their traditional scapegoats: the poor, as exemplified by Reagan’s “welfare queens” and George H.W. Bush’s use of Willie Horton to remind white people how terrified they were of blacks. Sept. 11 gave Republicans a new focus of fear: Muslims, a tool Trump has aggressively exploited. So for Republicans, it’s always the same: Protect their own kind, the ultra-rich, by terrifying Americans and blaming the middle class’s economic stresses on anything and everything, except the real cause: a gamed tax system that lowers taxes on corporations and billionaires, and that makes the rest of us pay the nation’s bills.


From the Diary of Kimberley Strassel

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Dear Diary,

Well, I just wrote my 47th column on Hillary’s emails. They’ve all been pretty much the same—Hillary is a she-devil who did bad things and is crooked. Only I did come up with a clever new slogan: I called 2016 “the year of the Democratic email dump.”

Of course, just between me and you, Dear Diary, that’s not true. If anything, 2016 was the year of Trump. But “the year of the Democratic email dump” keeps people thinking Hillary did something wrong, and we have to keep that up, at least until the election.

God, I hate that Clinton b***h. Sometimes I myself wonder why. I don’t know, I just do. She’s so…perfect. Maybe I’m jealous? Successful career, the most successful female politician in American history, by all accounts a great mom, smart, funny, a policy wonk, rich, and she did stand by Bill’s side during Monicagate. And talk about grace under pressure! I can imagine myself, under other circumstances, liking her. But let’s face it, smearing Hillary is what they pay me for. I need this gig at the Wall Street Journal. We’re under orders, from the Murdochs on down through Baker, Blumenstein and Murray (sounds like a Wall Street lawfirm, doesn’t it, haha) to keep up the attack, and so we do, me and Rove and Henninger and Jenkins and Noonan and the rest of us op-ed junkyard dogs. Sometimes, I’ll run into one of them in the break room, and we’ll look each other in the eye and feel something like shame, or embarrassment, over how cheap and misleading our columns usually are. We never really talk about it.  It’s not something you’d actually admit. But it’s there.

Peggy is the worst, she really is. I think she’s always resented me, since I’m the only other editorial page woman, and most professionals respect me more than her! Everybody knows Peggy was just a dreary little speechwriter for Reagan—they only gave her unimportant things, like D-Day, because she couldn’t handle anything bigger—but, good Lord, she’s ridden that “I worked for Ronald Reagan” horse for thirty years like she’d been one of the Apostles. She’s also a lot older than me, which quite frankly, Diary, she resents. So we avoid each other, if at all possible. But I will say this: there’s sort of a competition between us over who can be bitchier, especially towards Hillary.

Actually, I’m pretty proud of my latest column. You know what the trick is to writing a great column about Hillary? It’s to pack as many scandals into the piece as you can, and on this one I did a great job! I not only got the emails in there, but Benghazi, Blll’s adultery and all his other baggage, Hillary’s religious beliefs (or lack of them), her campaign contributions, the high price she (and Bill) charge for speeches, the way Bill sold ambassadorships to the highest bidder, her Hollywood friends, her relationship with Anthony Weiner—in short, the entire Almanach de Gotha of horrors. Now, Dear Diary, once again between you and me, let’s be honest and admit that the Clintons haven’t done anything any other politician, including other Presidential couples, hasn’t done. But that doesn’t matter. The important thing is to stir up anger and resentment against the b***h. My therapist, Dr. Fegelin, asked me the other day if I, as a woman, ever have second thoughts about stirring up anger against Hillary because she’s a woman, and it’s really easy to make white people, especially Christians, resent women with power.

Well, in answer to Dr. Fegelin, no, I don’t have any second thoughts. I have a lot of self-respect for myself; as my husband reminds me every day, I am beautiful!

strassel

It’s true that I could use a nip-and-tuck here and there, but really, I have fabulous hair (thank you Mr. Kenneth! Muah!), and with the right makeup and lighting, I could be one of those Fox News blond glamor gals (move over Megyn Kelly!). And to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t mind that. She makes, like, what? twenty times what I make here at the Journal, and what does she have that I don’t, besides good legs? Anyhow, if I keep churning out these hit pieces on Hillary, maybe Rupert will put me on T.V. One can always hope, right?

Look, life is war. We do what we have to do to win. Besides, I’ve been at this for so long that I barely have any moral compass left. You’d be surprised how easy it is to toss your conscience overboard, Dear Diary! Conscience is a hassle, anyway, especially for a Wall Street Journal columnist. It’s so much purer, and more lucrative, to peddle hate.


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