They're Not Moderates, and It's Not Tax Reform Skip to content

They're Not Moderates, and It's Not Tax Reform

2 min read

Here’s a memo to the Fourth Estate from an old reporter:

  • “Moderates” implies middle-of-the road.
  • And “tax reform” is a Republican frame.

They’re Not Moderates

Much of the media—even journalists on supposedly liberal MSNBC news shows—pinned the “moderate” label on John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, because they torpedoed the Senate version of “Trumpcare.”

You’d think Republican “moderates” would support only about half of President Trump’s conservative legislation. But thus far, Collins has voted for 79% of the President’s bills, McCain 84%, and Murkowski 85%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracking project.

Collins is the lowest scoring Republican senator, according to the website. All others vote with Trump at least 80% of the time, with most being well into the 90s.

Hence, the numbers are more proof, as if more proof were needed, that there are no moderate Republicans in Congress, only conservatives and arch-conservatives.

After I spent more than a dozen years as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist, I taught history in a community college for two dozen more years. There are moderate Republicans in history books. At age 67, I remember them. Kentucky Sen. John Sherman Cooper comes to mind. So does Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts.

There were even liberal Republicans in my salad days: Jacob Javits of New York, Clifford Case of New Jersey, and Mac Mathias of Maryland. Cooper and Brooke were well to the left of every GOP lawmaker now in Washington. Javits, Case, and Mathias would be radical leftists compared to reactionary Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul.

Put in historical context, Collins, McCain, and Murkowski are “moderates” only in comparison to the rest of the current GOP Senate caucus.

And It’s Not Tax Reform

A lot of journalists—even those on the MSNBC payroll—call the Republican tax plan “tax reform.” The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “reform” as “to put or change into an improved form or condition” and “to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses.”

However, many people—including congressional Democrats—think the GOP tax proposal is anything but “reform.”

“Tax reform cannot be a cover story for delivering tax cuts to the wealthiest,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and 44 other Democratic senators warned in a letter to Trump and the GOP Senate leaders. “We will not support any tax plan that includes tax cuts for the top 1 percent.”

So, here is my ProTip for anyone reporting or writing about Washington politics:

Tagging Collins, McCain, and Murkowski as “moderates” reveals a woeful ignorance of history and an utter lack of context. And calling the GOP tax plan “tax reform” is editorializing. In both cases, what you’re spreading is the real “fake news.”


Photo by DonkeyHotey

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All results from Tuesday’s primary

All results from Tuesday’s primary

Here’s a list of all the results from Kentucky’s 2024 primary election that were reported on the Board of Elections site. These include federal, state legislative, and some judges and county attorneys.

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