'It just seems wrong.' GOP rep admits tax scam he voted for rips off working people


Rep. Tom Cole knows the GOP tax scheme will hurt working Americans — but his colleagues told him to vote for it anyway. So he did.

There's not much to like about the GOP tax scheme. The bill, drafted hurriedly and under the cover of darkness, is wildly unpopular among the American people and economists alike, with little to offer other than corporate giveaways and tax cuts for the rich.

But that didn't stop Republicans like Rep. Tom Cole from voting for it — even though he admitted in a recent interview that "it just seems wrong" that the scam is, quite simply, a massive giveaway to the rich paid for by working class Americans.

Speaking with CNBC, Cole conceded that he's not much of a "deep economic thinker" and didn't pay much attention to those fancy tax analyses conducted by non-partisan agencies, almost all of which excoriated the bill for increasing the federal deficit without boosting economic growth.

"He doesn't know what the models are," CNBC noted, "but doesn't worry much about that."

Instead of turning to things like evidence and numbers, Cole relied on his GOP colleagues to tell him how to vote on the bill, which delivers massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans but offers little else for the rest of the population. Cole likes the way his colleagues think, and it was apparently easier to listen to their reassurances than to grapple with all those pesky facts and figures.

"In the end I'm going to trust the people who are philosophically aligned with me," he told CNBC.

Cole said he put his faith in House Speaker Paul Ryan — "who's forgotten more about economics than I know" — to guide him blindly to his vote on a tax bill that will affect Americans for a generation to come.

Yet when asked about the bill's massive giveaway to corporations, Cole admitted, "It just seems wrong."

"We'd be better off if there were more populist victories in there," he added.

But Cole, who represents a state ranked among the poorest third in the nation by median income, is not too worried about all those people who will lose out from a bill that dismantles health care, explodes the deficit, raises taxes on 87 million working families, and gives corporations the largest tax cut in U.S. history.

He thinks of it like a game.

"We'll see if we're right or not," Cole said. "There'll be political consequences to that — either rewards or punishments."

On that point, he's right. There certainly will be political consequences — for the lawmakers who played reverse Robin Hood and sold out their constituents to give the richest Americans a tax cut they never needed in the first place.