Republicans accomplished what once seemed impossible, passing the largest federal tax reform package in decades. The landmark legislative victory put sizable tax cuts in the stockings of the middle class and larger wages under the tree of workers.
But to hear Democrats tell it, they were the recipients of a Christmas miracle. In their minds, the Republican tax reform bill will be wildly unpopular with the middle- and working-classes and title the 2018 midterms further in Democrats’ favor.
In some ways, Democrats have reason to be hopeful. Polls taken just before passage of the bill suggest that Americans opposition to the bill grew over the last month and that the bill suffers from a widespread perception that it favors the wealthy more than the middle class. Democrats also benefit from an anti-Trump media narrative that has bled over into biased coverage of the bill, one that spent endless time devoted to discerning “winners” and “losers,” as though the bill was a zero-sum game, rather than the positive economic effects of the bill.
And that’s Democrats’ big problem. They’re drinking the same Kool-Aid they’ve been feeding the media. It’s as if they believe, as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brazenly claimed, the bill “raises taxes on 86 million middle-class households” and “hands a breathtaking 83 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.”
That would be a powerful line of attack if it were remotely true. Pelosi’s statement is based completely (and misleadingly) on the year 2027, when the individual tax cuts expire if (IF!) Congress doesn’t act to extend them, which they inevitably will. As the National Review’s Rick Lowry writes, “If Pelosi were being more scrupulous, she’d say, “If Democrats for some reason don’t agree with Republicans to extend the middle-class tax cuts – then they will disappear and shame on us.”
Nevertheless, outlets like the Washington Post, Newsweek and the New York Times have all opted to focus their coverage on this unlikely future as opposed to the powerful near-term tax and economic benefits.
The left-leaning Tax Policy Center’s analysis found that a mere 4.8 percent of taxpayers will pay more in 2017 while 80.4 percent see a tax reduction averaging $2,140. Their analysis also finds that the middle 60 percent of taxpayers will enjoy a 1.6 percent increase in after-tax income. Meanwhile, the right-leaning Tax Foundation’s forecast found that “some of the largest changes in after tax income accruing to moderate-income families with children” and that the bill would boost gross domestic product by 1.7 percent over the long run.
If either of those analyses becomes reality—using either left or right leaning assumptions—then this bill won’t just be popular, it will be a springboard to sustained electoral success. There’s just no words that can explain away faster economic growth, higher wages and more dollars remaining in the pockets of average Americans.
When it’s all said and done Democrats may have wish they’d have supported the tax reform bill. After all, as Michael Graham writes for CBS News, this “bill does quite few thing Democrats usually support”:
It nearly doubles the standard deduction (from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for joint filers)—which is what most low-income families use, rather than itemizing.
It also doubles the child tax credit to $2,000, and people who don’t pay any net federal taxes to “credit” can still get up to $1,400 in cold-hard cash paid for by their fellow taxpayers, whether they (yes, Ann Coulter, I’m looking at you) like it or not. …
Which brings us back to the real problem: President Trump. More accurately, the Democrats’ decision to #Resist.
#Resist means no cooperation, no cutting deals, none of the usual give-and-take of democracy. It also matches the mood of the Democratic base which, according to polling by liberal activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, overwhelmingly supports impeachment (78 percent) and wants Democrats to act against Trump at every turn (90 percent).
But if tax reform works and the economy is energized then Democrats will wish they would have set aside their hashtag and gotten down to the business of legislating.