Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Crisis for the GOP: Trump Tax Cuts Are Still Unpopular

Yes, I am still pissed about taxes - and so are many other Americans who sadly end up paying more in taxes than those far wealthier and/or many large corporations.  The good news is that perhaps those screwed by the Trump tax cuts - the "corporate greed/billionaire relief act" might be an apt name for the bill rammed through by Republicans -  will vent their wrath come November, 2018.  The only thing humorous about the situation is that Republicans seem blindsided by the public reaction thus demonstrating the danger of living in the Fox News bubble or listening to "economists" who have proven to be consistently wrong since the 1980's.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at how and why voters are rightly realizing that the GOP sold them down the river.  Here are excerpts:

Between 1980 and 2016, the American public never met a tax cut it didn’t like. . . . on each occasion, a plurality of voters were onboard.
And then, America met the Trump Tax Cuts. When Congress passed the president’s signature legislation in December, it was the least popular tax bill in modern American history — a measure even less popular than the tax hikes passed under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
For American conservatives, this was a harrowing development. It was one thing for the public to disdain the GOP’s attempts to pare back Obamacare — retrenching the welfare state has always been the sour note in the right’s paean to “small government.” But if fiscal conservatives can no longer sell voters on across-the-board, deficit-financed tax cuts — untainted by any simultaneous attack on the safety net — what are they so supposed to sell them? Initially, Republicans took solace in the thought that their bill’s unpopularity was merely the product of Democratic duplicity. . . . Surely, Americans would love the Trump tax cuts once they got to know them. The proof would be in the paycheck — and, failing that, in a multimillion-dollar Koch-funded ad campaign. Alas: Americans have now been collecting post-tax-cut paychecks for more than two months — and they still don’t like Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement. In fact, as Republicans fan out across the country Tuesday for “Tax Day” rallies celebrating their law, the vast majority of voters still refuse to accept that their taxes have even gone down. But don’t take my word for it — take the American Enterprise Institute’s. In a new polling analysis, the right-wing think tank concedes that “overall opinion [of the Trump Tax Cuts] is still more negative than positive,” while an overwhelming majority of Americans say that their paychecks haven’t grown conspicuously fatter. . . . while 53 percent foresee a negative impact from “higher deficits and disproportionate benefits for the wealthy and big corporations.” If voters do not believe that across-the-board tax breaks have positive economic benefits — and resent tax cuts for the rich more than they appreciate ones for themselves — then it’s going to be nigh-impossible for conservatives to realize their “small government” vision on the federal level. On Meet the Press last Sunday, Paul Ryan (unintentionally) explained why this is the case. . . . . The most obvious problem with Ryan’s response is that it’s an unabashed lie: After observing the initial effects of the Trump Tax Cuts, the Congressional Budget Office predicted last week that the legislation will single-handedly add $1.85 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
But a more fundamental flaw in Ryan’s argument is that — to most Americans — it reads like a case against tax cuts. If an unavoidable, demographic change is making it more expensive for the government to meet its obligations to retirees, then why on Earth did Republicans make reducing revenue their top legislative priority?
Further, to the extent that Social Security’s “20th century” design “doesn’t work,” it is because the program is too austere, not too generous. The collapse of private-sector pensions — along with the failure of wage growth to keep pace with the rising costs of health care, housing, and higher education — have left Americans more dependent on Social Security benefits for their retirements, not less: As of 2016, nearly half of U.S. families had no retirement account savings at all, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Contrary to the GOP’s perennial promise, the benefits from corporate cuts aren’t trickling down. Wage growth is tepid; stock buybacks are soaring. Last spring, 61 percent of Americans told Gallup that their income-tax burden was already “fair” – while just 4 percent told Bloomberg that “tax policy” was the most important issue facing the country. Meanwhile, large majorities of the public — including, in one Morning Consult survey, a majority of self-identified conservatives — voiced support for increasing federal health-care spending. There was no popular outcry for “middle-class tax cuts” in 2017 — let alone, for giant corporate cuts financed by reductions in health-care subsidies. The GOP assumed that voters would come around to its view on “starving the beast,” once they got their share of Uncle Sam’s rations. They assumed wrong.
Democrats are already winning elections in Red America by spotlighting the GOP’s fringe fiscal priorities. In recent weeks, striking teachers have won victories of their own by the very same method. The Koch network can afford to lose such battles. But by passing the first unpopular tax cut in modern memory, Republicans have proven themselves incapable of winning the wider war. When the “rubber hits the road” — and voters are forced to choose between maintaining entitlement benefits and keeping tax rates low — there’s never been less doubt about which they’ll choose.

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