Tax Bill May Backfire on Republicans In Midterm Elections

It appears that the Republican tax message has “hit a snag.” 

Nearly four months after the GOP passed their signature tax-cut law in December, new surveys show that most people believe they are NOT getting bigger paychecks than they did before.  This could greatly reduce support seen for Republicans during this year’s midterm elections.  

The GOP has made the tax-cut law the center of the message it plans to take to voters this fall in the 2018 midterm elections.  Their argument is that with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House the American people are getting more money in their take-home pay, thanks to the tax bill.

According to The Hill, one reason that most taxpayers won’t see much of a tax cut in their take-home pay is that benefits get spread out over an entire year.  The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center said that people with incomes between $48,600 and $86,100 will, on average, receive $35 per pay period if divided equally among 26 pay periods. But they also said that people with incomes below $25,000 will, on average, get a tax cut of only $60 over the course of the whole year.

“The tax bill just doesn’t provide much benefit to most people,” said Vanessa Williamson, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

A recent CNBC poll found that most people aren’t noticing much of a benefit from the tax law. The CNBC poll said that just 32 percent of working adults reported having more take-home pay due to the new law.  

This result definitely helps the Democratic Party arguments that the tax bill helped the rich while doing little for the middle class, and nothing for lower income people.

This is going to be a major problem for Republicans who try to use the tax cuts as the centerpiece of their campaigns for the November elections.

In addition, A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that just 37 percent of  voters who had jobs were seeing added take-home pay in their paychecks, and 53 percent were not.

Recent polls have also shown that Democratic voters are more fired up for this year’s elections than Republican voters.  This so-called “enthusiasm gap” could really hurt the GOP in November.

Conservatives, however, say they only have to do a better job of communicating the information about how the tax bill helps voters. “Republicans have to discipline themselves to stay on message,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. “Somebody says ‘Korea and steel,’ you say ‘tax cuts.’”  

That didn’t work for Republicans in the special election in Pennsylvania which Democrat Conor Lamb won.  In that race, in a district that favored Trump by 20 percentage points, the tax cut message did not resonate with voters, and the GOP abandoned it completely.

Republicans have recently said they want to pass a second tax cut bill this year, thinking that will help them in the fall.  In fact, such a bill could force Democrats to make some hard choices, such as voting against tax cuts right before an election.

But some Democrats will argue that the small increases in take-home pay are more than offset by rising healthcare costs, which Republicans have done nothing about.  In addition, many voters are concerned that the GOP tax bill has benefited billionaires while adding $1 trillion to the federal deficit.

Based on the feedback received over the past three months it appears that Republicans have a losing plan if they base their mid-term election campaign on the benefits of their tax bill for middle class voters. If they want to try to convince these voters to support a tax cut bill for the super-rich that explodes the deficit, then Democrats will say “go ahead.”  Odds are the Democrats will be right on this one.