Last Friday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins traded in what remained of her legacy to push forward a massive tax cut to corporations and America’s wealthiest, based on a set of assurances from her Republican colleagues about the final outcome of the bill that she has little power to ultimately compel or enforce.

Becoming the decisive 51st senator to sign on to the Senate Republicans’ tax bill before it passed in the early hours of Saturday morning, Collins placed her stamp of approval on a legislative process that was so outrageous that the final bill included more than half a trillion dollars of new cuts and spending that had undergone no committee hearings or public debate, and included provisions that were proposed with so little preparation that they were literally handwritten into the margins of the original draft of the legislation. To call this process a break from the norms of Senate process would be a dramatic understatement, and yet, Collins–who earlier this year voted against her party’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act partially on the grounds that the bill was being rammed through the Senate without any semblance of regular order — seemed genuinely unconcerned.

The erstwhile institutionalist, when asked about the rushed process by a reporter simply replied that “It’s not the most elegant process, I would say that.” Meanwhile, Maine’s junior senator, Angus King, said of the tax bill’s process that “[t]o call this a circus would be an insult to circuses,” and offered up an amendment on the eve of the vote to bring the bill back to the budget committee for more deliberation. That vote failed on party lines, 52-48.

In defending her vote, Collins has pointed to a series of amendments that go to the substance of the bill that she either offered or supported that aim to mitigate some of its harmful effects, including provisions in the bill that if left in place could cause 13 million more people to be uninsured in the coming years. But it is hard to see a scenario in which moving this bill does not create a worse world for poor and lower-middle income people, or how Collins could stand in the way of her caucus when that scenario comes to pass.

While Collins has challenged official government estimates that this set of tax shifts will create more than $1.5 trillion in additional debt in the next decade, some of her colleagues have embraced this number to begin laying the groundwork for justifying the GOP’s next major legislative project: “entitlement reform.” Many Democrats have accused the push for the tax bill as essentially a Trojan horse for cuts to social programs because the deficit resulting from the tax cuts can be used as justification for reduced spending in a later bill. While some may be tempted to call this line of thinking cynical, the tax bill hadn’t even made it out of the Senate before Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was discussing “instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future” as a method of controlling the projected deficit. It is not difficult to see where the caucus is going when President Trump, House Speaker Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have all indicated that that is the exact directing that they intend to travel.

Ultimately, in supporting the Senate’s version of the GOP tax bill, Collins has laid the groundwork for both a new normal in the Senate where irresponsible legislative procedure is rewarded with political victories, as well as a pretense to gut social programs while preserving generational wealth for a new American aristocracy. It’s hard to see her coming back from the edge of this moral cliff.

The preceding originally appeared on, a website and podcast created by progressive group the Maine People’s Alliance.

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