I’m connecting three threads in this post. The first is that resistance to the GOP tax bill was doomed from the start. But, second, the Republican tax bill “success” will be a drag on Republicans at the polls in the November elections. Third, the current evidence suggests that Dems are headed for a blue wave this coming year.
Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) explains Why the opposition to the Republican tax plan wasn’t enough.
The comparison between the health care fight and the tax fight are probably inevitable, and may help explain the different outcomes. Far more Americans were poised to suffer under the GOP’s proposed health care changes – and suffer more severely – which was reflected in the intensity of the public backlash.
That said, I’m at a loss to think of something critics of the Republican tax plan could’ve done to derail the bill that they didn’t do.
When there’s one party that controls all the levers of federal power, and that party can pass their top goal by majority rule, the opposition has limited options. Its principal objective is obvious: make the majority party’s goal as unpopular as possible in order to pressure the majority party’s members to break ranks.
In this case, the GOP’s progressive opponents did that: the Republican tax plan is the least popular major piece of legislation in three decades. At the same time, Democrats collected a mountain of evidence – from economists, from official score-keepers, from stakeholders across multiple industries – effectively making a bullet-proof case that this legislation is dangerously misguided.
But it didn’t matter, not because the progressive case was weak, and not because activists didn’t show up to be heard, but because the case was ultimately irrelevant. Republicans were going to pass this bill no matter what. Polls and protests weren’t going to dissuade them, and for GOP lawmakers, economic data was even less important to the party.
With that in mind, those looking for someone to blame for what transpired over the last seven weeks should probably focus on those who actually voted for this thing.
And that is what I did in my Wednesday post, Tax cut bill conceived in dishonesty was passed by corrupt Senators.
However: what we progressives did or did not do in the short run may have been a boon to the progressive cause in the long run. The tax cut bill passed by the GOP may prove to be a boondoggle hanging around Republican necks come November.
James Hohmann in the Washington Post’s Daily 202 lists 10 reasons Democrats think the tax bill will be a political loser for Trump’s GOP in the midterms. I’ll list them here, but for explanation, you should go read Hohmann’s article.
THE BIG IDEA: Democrats feel confident that the tax bill, which cleared Congress on Wednesday, will be an albatross for Republicans in the midterm elections.
Yesterday’s Daily 202 argued that the legislation is likely to become more popular after President Trump signs it into law — partly because people’s expectations start off so low, support is still soft among Republicans, and major advertising campaigns are being planned to promote it.
In the two-and-a-half years I’ve been writing the 202, I’ve never received so much pushback. Top operatives at all the relevant Democratic committees and outside groups, as well as the most prominent progressive pollsters in town and campaign managers in the states, argued passionately that the tax bill is not going to become a winner for the GOP. They shared a battery of private polling and reports on focus groups to make their case.
“Calling this thing a win because Republicans finally got something done is like saying the captain of the Titanic won when he successfully found that reclusive iceberg,” said Jesse Ferguson, the former director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm.
He was one of two dozen Democratic operatives I spoke with yesterday. Here are their 10 points that came up most frequently:
- Most folks who pay lower taxes will not save enough to care.
- Voters don’t just think the bill benefits the wealthy. They think it benefits the wealthy at their expense.
- Trump is an ineffective messenger.
- Congressional leaders aren’t good pitchmen either.
- Conservative groups have already spent more than $70 million promoting an overhaul of the tax code, by some estimates, and most people still don’t think the bill is good. How will new commercials do what the previous ones could not?
- The most effective GOP messages to grow support for the bill are not true.
- The tax debate has allowed Democrats to open an advantage over Republicans on the broader question of who voters trust more to manage the economy, which is still a top concern.
- By repealing the individual mandate, Republicans now own the health-care mess.
- Polls show voters are receptive to the argument that Republicans did not sufficiently reach across the aisle or work in good faith with Democrats to make the bill better.
- Ronald Reagan did not benefit politically from cutting taxes in either 1982 or 1986.
So the short of it is this: Trump and the GOPlins killed health care for millions of Americans while reaping millions of dollars for themselves.
Republicans may not want to run on that platform but Democrats most certainly will. Here’s a snipshot from the Huffington Post on what the Alabama special election and latest polls predict about 2018: After Alabama, Pollsters See Reasons To Expect A Democratic Surge.
Even before Democrats’ victory in last week’s Alabama Senate election, there were signs that Republicans may be in trouble in the year ahead. Democrats overperformed in dozens of other special elections this year. Their generic ballot numbers are remarkably strong. And while it’s early in the election cycle, some polling gives the party a distinct advantage in enthusiasm ahead of next year’s congressional midterms.
Democrat Doug Jones’ win in Alabama, the culmination of an atypical race, was just the latest evidence of the potential for a blue wave of voters to show up in 2018, pollsters say. And it’s already affecting how they’re trying to figure out who will turn out next November.
“What fascinated me is, as bizarre as this was, the things that we made assumptions about based on [the outcomes] in Virginia and Georgia and South Carolina did play out in Alabama in the same way,” Patrick Murray, Monmouth University’s polling director, told HuffPost. “I think we’re seeing a pattern form.”
Normally, Murray said he’d set a high bar when trying to determine who’s likely to vote in a midterm election, screening out most people who don’t have a history of voting regularly. But next year, that may not be the right approach.
“We are getting voters who are either new voters or have only voted in presidential elections who are coming out in these special elections or midterms,” Murray said. “That changes the model significantly.”
Others in the field are drawing similar conclusions. Jones won in part by turning out “people who have never come out in a midterm or special election,” John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster based in Alabama, told CNN, describing those voters as “disproportionately our people.” Democrats, noted Chris Jackson of the polling firm Ipsos, voted last week as if the Alabama Senate race was a presidential election. Republicans voted as though it were a midterm. That fact will be among the data Ipsos will take into consideration next year.
The Huff Post article’s subtitle is: “But figuring out who’s likely to vote remains a challenge.” That’s the wrong question. The real challenge is getting folks out to vote for progressive candidates. We need to recognize that “no” is not enough and we need to connect to voters’ economic concerns. We can start by asking “what’s in your wallet?”