Recently, some asshole with a blog noted:
I seem to be one of the few people beating on the drum of getting Il Trumpe’s taxes–something that could happen if the Democratic head of the Ways and Means committee, Rep. Richard Neal, just wrote a damn letter. It’s not that I think it will DESTROY! Trump (though it might, you never know). But if the notion of resistance means anything, then getting his taxes–which is relatively simple to do–should have been done out of the gate.
Greg Sargent makes a similar point (boldface mine):
An odd disconnect has opened up in the Democratic approach to President Trump. On the one hand, Democrats rhetorically treat his presidency as a rolling national emergency, as an existential threat to our democracy.
Yet on the other hand, in several crucial ways, Democrats are badly muddling that message, by refraining from doing what might be described as the congressional oversight equivalent of breaking the emergency glass…
Democratic insiders believe their case will be stronger if multiple House committees each offer a legislative and/or oversight rationale for needing the returns — say, a need to see whether his financial dealings abroad signal conflicts of interest, or whether his businesses are violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.), the Ways and Means Committee chair, has asked multiple committees to furnish such a rationale.
The idea that this approach would place the House on more solid institutional footing is reasonable. But there has been no serious effort to explain why this needs to take as long as it has…
What’s more, Democrats appear to be gravitating toward seeking only Trump’s personal returns, and not his business returns, given the latter’s complexity. But as tax expert Steven Rosenthal argues, the uniqueness of Trump’s case — the sprawl of his business empire; his refusal to divest; and the entanglement of those things with Trump’s epic self-dealing — means Democrats cannot seriously exercise oversight responsibilities without getting access to both.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a member of Ways and Means, is turning up the heat on his colleagues. In a statement emailed to me, Pascrell said accessing Trump’s business and personal returns is essential to determining the “extent of any crimes” he may have committed, and “how far his conflicts go.”
Pascrell adds that Neal has “promised me this request will happen, and I believe him. That being said, we’re now in spring and time is wasting.”
Trump’s refusal to release his returns is like the Original Sin of the very sort of institutional degradation that Democrats regularly lament. Getting access to them would illuminate the scale of those degradations, which are ongoing. Yet this whole process has been saturated with an aura of tentativeness that is hard to fathom…
Progressive activists have told Vox’s Matthew Yglesias that they fear all this sends a message that House Democrats believe everything is under control — threat averted! — and that this could “demobilize” the grass roots. It does seem to send the message that our epic civic disaster can be resolved through conventional politics.
But the economic models suggest Trump very well could get reelected, which itself suggests that conventional politics may not be sufficient. And the disconnect between this and the national emergency rhetoric from leading Democrats — not to mention the actions of Trump himself — puts the Democratic reading of our current moment at risk of getting needlessly confused and muddled, at exactly the wrong time.
Everyone talks about the potential danger of pursuing impeachment, or even just its possibility. But there is also a danger in failing to pursue impeachment. The danger is the demobilization of the Democratic base. It might be time to protest Rep. Richard Neal.
Among other things, there are babies in cages.