In the lead-up to her vote in favor of the tax bill, Susan Collins issued a series of tweets Dec. 1. The tweets seemed designed to soften up her constituency for her vote for a bill whose popularity a Quinnipiac poll pegs at 25 percent. Salon reported that the bill is the least popular bill in the last 30 years. Hence the need for softening up.

Some highlights:

Tweet 1: "The Senate tax bill will include my SALT amendment to allow taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 for state and local property taxes." But while Collins is busy congratulating herself for this legislative achievement, she omits that this deduction already exists. In return for lavishing $1.5 trillion on the wealthy and super-wealthy, Collins has managed to wrangle and extract in concessions, well, nothing. They get $1.5 trillion — you get what you already had. One can practically hear Mitch McConnell, the Kochs, the Mercers and the Trumps laughing all the way to the bank.

Tweet 2: "Delighted that the Senate has agreed to include my property tax deduction amendment, that will allow 166,000 Maine taxpayers who itemize to deduct a total of $725 million in property taxes each year." Again, this already existed.

Tweet 3: "The Senate bill will include my amendment to reduce the threshold for deducting medical expenses, which helps people with high medical costs, particularly seniors & people with chronic conditions. 8.8 million Americans use this deduction…"

Where to begin with this monumental deceit.

Again, this already existed. Previously Collins made great hay of her grave concern that the tax bill's elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate would send premiums soaring for everyone — as it will. But the bill still eliminates the individual mandate and Collins' grave concerns are now MIA.

Overall health care costs will soar, but don't worry, you'll get a fraction of that back in the form of marginally lower taxes. And the gaping budget hole torn wide open by this bill will in short order put Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security directly in the crosshairs of the GOP.

Eight million Americans use this deduction? Well, not counting overlap, 170 million Americans use Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A little candy today, a sledgehammer tomorrow.

Either Collins doesn't know this — or she knows, she doesn't care, and she is grossly misleading her constituents. Either way she is betraying the people of Maine.

Tweet 4: "After securing significant changes, as well as commitments to pass legislation to help lower health insurance premiums, I will cast my vote in support of the Senate tax reform bill."

Commitments? From this crowd? The word's not even in their dictionary. And with control of the White House, House and Senate, Republicans have passed nothing in 10 months.

In the GOP's Orwellian world, a "middle-class tax cut" is a bonanza for the rich and super-rich — one can only imagine their legislation to lower health insurance premiums.

By Collins' own previous statements, the tax bill will send premiums soaring. But that's OK — Mitch has promised to give some of that back at some completely undefined point in the future. It's too bad one must be 30 to serve in the Senate — there must be at least 100 less gullible third-graders in Waldo County alone.

Tweet 5: "I received assurances today that no reduction in Medicare will be triggered by tax bill. See exchange of letters." Seriously? Assurances? Assurances mean nothing to Mitch McConnell, author of the referenced letters. This has been the GOP game plan for 37 years. Cut taxes, cry deficit, go after social programs.

Again, either Collins doesn't know this, or she knows it and doesn't care. And when the tax bill does trigger Medicare reductions, Collins will furrow her brow, earnestly express grave concerns before every available television camera…and then sell Maine's seniors and Maine's poor right down the Penobscot River.

Tweet 6: "Very pleased @SenateMajLdr committed to support passage of two impt bills before year's end to mitigate premium increases…to help low-income families afford insurance & my bipartisan bill to protect people w/pre-existing conditions via high-risk pools."

SenateMajLdr hasn't passed one impt bill in 10 months and he's going to pass two before Christmas? Right. I wish there were Vegas odds on this. And even if McConnell could do this, it would "mitigate" — not eliminate — the wholesale jacking of premiums. They take a dollar, give it to millionaires and billionaires, and give you back a nickel.

And there's only one problem with high-risk pools: They don't work. They're a sucker's bait. This is their logic: Put a bunch of very ill and potentially very ill people in the same insurance pool and their premiums will fall. Right. Got it.

The GOP is like a carnival act with the ever-riveting Donald Trump up on stage squawking about middle-class tax cuts while Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Susan Collins work the crowd, picking pockets. And this time they're picking the crowd clean.

But it gets worse. Buried fully 100 pages into the House version is a backdoor attempt to set in motion the complete elimination of abortion rights. This surreal provision would make fetuses eligible for college savings plans. The idea is to make the fetus a person, and thus the courts won't allow the fetus's abortion.

In a bill that would eliminate deductions for student loan interest and make graduate school impossibly expensive for thousands of struggling students by taxing their free tuition, the cynicism of this fetus provision is breathtaking. It makes a mockery of decades of Susan Collins' pro-choice serenades. Under this bill, a fetus's fiercely defended right to attend college would end at birth.

It's not too late to stop this mugging for millionaires. The bill now goes to House-Senate conference and then back to both houses for final votes. Susan Collins' Washington phone number is: 202-224-2523.

Lawrence Reichard is a first-place Maine Press Association winner, freelance writer and activist living in Belfast.