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Mark Mellman: History’s judgment

Mark Mellman: History’s judgment
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History will judge the current Republican Congress harshly.

Their fellow citizens already are.

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In a mid-November Quinnipiac University poll, a mere 15 percent approved of the way Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs, while 79 percent disapproved.

Never has a congressional party been so unpopular.

Neither have their leaders.

Just 25 percent of Americans approve of the way Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (Ky.) is handling his job as Senate Republican leader, 51 percent disapprove.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.) scores only slightly better in the same poll — 31 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove — and he does even worse in other recent measurements.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLawmakers feel pressure on guns Former Pelosi challenger: I have no 'interest in running for leadership again' Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) are both more popular than their GOP counterparts.

Apparently convinced they can improve their public standing by passing legislation voters detest, the GOP wrote the most unpopular piece of tax legislation in some 40 years, as 538.com’s Harry Enten documented.

Remember George H.W. Bush exhorting voters to “read my lips, no new taxes” and then passing a tax hike? That was more popular than this. Remember Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonShould the Rob Porter outcome set the standard? Make the compromise: Ending chain migration is a small price to legalize Dreamers Assessing Trump's impeachment odds through a historic lens MORE raising taxes? More popular than this. 

Bush and Reagan tax cuts were favored by average margins ranging from 4 to 25 points.

This odious bill? It’s opposed by 14 points on average.

But historians are unlikely to be swayed so much by public opinion as by the damage the Republicans have inflicted on our country and on our institutions.

Congressional Republicans have debased our politics, assaulted the truth, ignored vital processes, lied to the American people, endorsed immorality and flouted reality like no party in modern times.

And they have empowered a psychologically impaired, intellectually deficient, amoral president, who seems hellbent on undermining the sometimes fragile foundations of our democracy.

Take the tax bill. Republicans were simply unwilling to be constrained by anything approaching reality.

As New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum noted, “Republicans and Democrats have long touted opposing analyses of the economics of taxation. People could look and judge the difference. It cannot be overstated how radical it is for Republicans to simply refuse to present an analysis.”

When the Republican controlled Joint Committee on Taxation used the “dynamic” scoring system that Republicans implored them to employ for 40 years, the number crunchers concluded the GOP bill would still add $1 trillion to the deficit.

How did Republicans respond? Did they alter the bill? Did they send it back for reconsideration? Did they worry they might be properly tagged with acute hypocrisy for pretending to be concerned about deficits for decades? No.

Without a pang of conscience, or a trace of embarrassment, they simply untethered themselves from reality, refused to engage in rational debate and said, “we disagree.”

No argument, no evidence, no fact — just a platitude or two. What was once the greatest deliberative body in the world put on a performance that would have been given an epic fail in any high school debate class in the country.

And then there are bald face lies.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Big tech lobbying groups push Treasury to speak out on EU tax proposal MORE claimed his department had conducted a study showing the bill would increase economic growth. Untrue.

Trump maintains the bill is “going to cost me a fortune.” That’s a lie — he benefits to the tune of over a billion dollars.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) claimed that three Republican economists told her the bill would pay for itself. They deny having made such a statement to Collins or anyone else.

The damage this bill will do to our country, to my children and theirs, is incalculable.

Unfortunately, the tax bill is far from the only example of these frightening trends.

Demagogic discourse and fact-free policy making have become the norm under the GOP, threatening both our material well-being and the health of our democracy.

History’s verdict on this Republican Congress may even be more scathing than the voters’.

Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has helped elect 30 U.S. senators, 12 governors and dozens of House Members. Mellman served as pollster to Senate Democratic Leaders for more than 20 years and as president of the American Association of Political Consultants.