Do Voters Really Hate the Republican Tax Bill?

Alex Edelman/CNP via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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