Disappointment is such a bitter pill.
As regular readers know, I've held out hope that Ohio Gov. John Kasich might serve as this cycle's reminder that the Republican Party had once been open to pragmatic, fact-based leadership, and might be once again if this fevered madness were to ever pass.
This week, Kasich trotted out his 2016 tax and budget policies. And it probably won't surprise you that a man who has spoken movingly about the obligation to help those most in need does indeed step forward to assist the most beleaguered minority in America, by which of course I mean the rich.
"Kasich's tax plan would:
—lower the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent.
—cap the long-term capital gains tax rate at 15 percent, helping those in the highest income tax bracket.
—eliminate the estate tax.
—lower the top business tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent.
—double the research and development tax credit for small businesses.
—increase by 10 percent the earned income tax credit, which is intended to help lower-income taxpayers.
"This looks like a pretty big tax cut for the top end and a little bit at the bottom," said Robertson Williams, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. "There's not much going to the middle class."
So at a time in which wealthy Americans are doing better than ever, with corporate after-tax profits at record highs and with more investment capital available than there are places to put it, with experts acknowledging a fundamental, historic shift in the way the economy distributes the benefits of productivity, even a relative moderate in the Republican Party remains incapable of offering any response other than that offered by the GOP for the past four decades.
In addition to cutting taxes on the rich by a significant amount, Kasich proposes to increase military spending by an estimated 17 percent while -- you knew this was coming -- also promising to balance the budget within eight years. He claims that he will be able to accomplish that mathematically unlikely feat by slashing federal spending on health care, education, job training, transportation -- all programs relied on heavily by those already struggling to make headway in this new economic landscape.
For the middle class, it's deja screw all over again.
What Kasich and his fellow Republicans offer is simply a rehash of what was promised but not delivered by Ronald Reagan. No policy adjustment has been made for the fact that we know it didn't work; there's no recognition that this is 2015, not 1975, and that dramatically changed times and conditions require a changed approach. Put another way, what we're seeing in Republican politics is what we would see in music if all innovation had by law ended back in the hairband era of the '70s, with every rock band today condemned to playing nothing but retreads of Steve Tyler and Aerosmith.
And if you let yourself get stuck in time for 40 years, this is what happens: