At 1:30 AM on Saturday morning, the Senate passed their version of a tax bill that is packed with enough pork to reach every corner of society. By Monday morning, most media outlets had moved on to the newest breaking news. Millions of people who tune out on weekends will have no idea that the Senate released a bill Friday night, passed it Saturday morning, and its effects will alter: federal taxes, the deficit, education, abortion, undocumented immigrants, entrepreneurship, energy exploration, student loans, local taxes, public spending, and so on…
Outrage at the bill from grassroots activists has been aimed at how it was passed as well as the negative effects of the bill on most Americans.
How did media mess this one up?
How do you get away with a crime? Face no consequences. The Senate has traditionally been the deliberative body – where bills go to face extensive scrutiny, debate and analysis. Mitch McConnell found new ways to bypass all of that.
Friday was consumed with the breaking plea deal between Special Counsel Mueller and ex-National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. As a result, most news sources passed on tracking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s determination to hold a vote that day.
The bill was released around 6:30PM on Friday.
The bill was voted on around 1:30AM on Saturday.
The bill contains provisions reaching into every American’s life.
So there should be enough in there to cover until Monday, right? For all the people who receive all their news from late night shows and evening news, the weekend is the perfect time to pass a bill you don’t want anybody talking about.
Here are Monday’s main stories:
See if you can find the tax bill story. I promise, there’s one in there.
CNN is always fetching the newest “BREAKING NEWS” story. In their world, they would say they put it front and center on Saturday. Job well done.
Fox chases its obsession with Matt Lauer’s sex toys to no end. Looking for reporting on the tax bill? You have two options on the side panel – both of them recapitulating a politicians commentary on the bill. Want to know what’s in it? Too bad. For a network that is so consistently supportive of any Republican effort, they went silent on this one.
CBS is the only major network to mention the tax bill. They focus on the contents of the bill with their article. Not the way by which it was secretly passed through the Senate. ABC and NBC are taking this round off.
New York Times
The Times is focusing on the bill. This is significant because CNN and the cable news channels so often decide what to cover based on The New York Times/Washington Post headlines.
The drawback is that the New York Times cannot reach those with low news intake on its own.
Was it necessary to rush a tax bill through the Senate in one night?
Republican Senators would argue that the ends justify the means. They were without any Democratic support. The bill was highly unpopular with a nearly 46% disapproval rating. This is a high rating for a bill that was under-reported in the press.
Deeper press coverage is unlikely to have turned those numbers around. For further evidence of that, note Republicans were also denying the Joint Committee on Taxation’s report that the bill would add $1 trillion to the debt.
According to Vox, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “I think it’s pretty clear they’re wrong.”
Cornyn was under pressure to whip up the 50 votes necessary when he lied about this. But it stands as evidence that Republicans did not have much faith in their own bill.
Did Republicans set a new precedent by passing this in such a rushed manner?
We saw this tactic employed during the health care repeal efforts earlier in the year. McConnell tried to rally the votes before a bill was produced and then launch a “vote-a-rama.” Now that he did it again – and it worked – there is a greater chance we can see this sort of legislating going forward. Especially if the media stays silent.
But is there another precedent set? Senators are bestowed with a great deal of responsibility. They handled that power haphazardly. If people learn the effects of the bill, it can only be damaging to the credibility (if not the esteem) of the Senate.
Senator Bernie Sanders responded with a rally:
Note how inflammatory his language is. He calls for “political revolution.” This language is much more resonant in the wake of billions of dollars in tax breaks going to corporations and the 1%. Sanders has serious detractors following his bruising primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. But his words and sentiment will be adopted by more politicians going forward. Even registered Republicans are unlikely to state they voted for Trump so that billionaires could receive another tax break.
And if the function of Congress loses the trust of people – what alternative political models will be spoken about?
What can you do?
As has been the case lately, there is tons of organizing against the tax bill and little in support of it. If you support the bill, you can call your member of Congress and let them know.
Call: 5 Calls has a script suited to the tax bill. They are aiming to make two million calls and are rapidly approaching their goal. You can make this call quickly, and the 5 calls app will allow you to move on and call on other rising issues such as net neutrality.
Indivisible also has a call line up that will connect you to your House Representative. The number for that is 1-855-980-2350.
Attend an event: Not One Penny has events organized across the country. You can enter your zip code and see what’s going on near you. It appears that Not One Penny is gearing up for another effort following Saturday’s vote, so keep checking this as events are added.
If you have more events to add, contact us.