Do Voters Really Hate the Republican Tax Bill?

Alex Edelman/CNP via ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

John Judis doesn’t think the Republican tax bill will hurt them in the 2018 midterms:

I don’t buy the argument — voiced by Democratic pundits, political consultants, and even a few economists — that the bill will doom the Republicans to defeat in 2018 and even 2020. Like many things I read or hear these days from liberals, it’s wish fulfillment disguised as analysis.

Democrats argue that the bill will be unpopular because it increases inequality by giving huge tax breaks to the rich and corporations. But most American voters don’t object to inequality and to the rich per se….The tax bill does give immediate benefits to the middle and lower classes. These include the increase in the child credit and standard deduction and lower rates….It is likely in the short run, that is, during Donald Trump’s presidency, to prolong the recovery and hold off an eventual downturn….Finally, I hear liberals and Democrats pointing to polls showing the tax bill is unpopular. I distrust these polls….Whether a policy is popular or not is usually settled during campaigns when the candidates try to interpret its results.

I halfway agree with Judis. The middle class does benefit in the short run from the tax bill, and George Bush’s tax cuts demonstrated pretty clearly that most people are satisfied with a modest tax cut even if they know it’s mainly a sop to disguise a huge tax cut given to the rich. And to Judis’s arguments I’d add another: Corporations employ an army of tax attorneys, and by November 2018 they’ll know exactly what the tax bill does for them. Ordinary folks don’t, and they won’t. It’s not until they start doing their taxes a few months later that they’ll really figure it out.

However, the sentence I highlighted is key, and it won’t necessarily work in Republicans’ favor. A popular president would be able to make a good case for the tax bill, but Trump isn’t popular and isn’t likely to be a year from now. It’s a lot easier for Democrats to paint the tax bill as a giveaway to corporations and the rich if the electorate already dislikes Trump and is primed to believe this. Popularity casts a golden sheen over everything a president does, but the opposite is true too. The tax bill will suffer merely for its proximity to Trump.

All this depends, of course, on Democrats making a good case against the bill. That’s not a slam dunk given their recent history, but the opportunity is certainly there.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate