- - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Easily the single most impressive and meaningful legislative achievement of the Trump presidency to date has been the passage of the historic tax cuts. Even critics of the law must admit that the initial effects of the law have been positive.

Consider: More than four million working Americans are benefitting from the tax law, while more than $4 billion has been offered to workers in bonuses. More than 400 companies have been passing down savings, while four out of five state have already announced reduced utility bills for residents.

The complete lack of Democratic support for the tax bill, which included provisions such as a corporate tax rate cut that many Democrats had previously supported, was telling. Democrats worked hard to poison the perception of the tax bill when it worked its way through Congress.

But the public-relations battles of last fall are entirely irrelevant now.

What matters today is whether voters believe the tax law is beneficial to the economy and whether it has added to their own paychecks.

In December, a New York Times poll conducted by Survey Monkey found just 37 percent support for the law. In early February, public support in the same poll grew to 51 percent.

It will be critical for Republicans to continue to make the case that the tax law is working. This task will require commitment, discipline, focus, and constant repetition of a consistent message in the next six months until the midterm elections.

If the tax law continues to pay dividends, it may not only erase the political risk that Republicans faced in supporting the bill; it may turn the vote against the tax cut into a political liability for Democrats, especially those Democrats in red states and competitive House districts.

Within the tax bill, there was one important question to be settled. Democrats offered the talking point that, under the law President Trump signed, the “corporate tax cut was permanent, but the individual rate tax cut was temporary.”

The budgetary limitations of the ten-year window that are part of the congressional reconciliation process required phasing out part of the tax cuts. Had Democrats offered sufficient support for the package, the entire bill could have been made permanent. But they refused.

So now it is left to the Republicans to ensure that the temporarily lowered individual rates become permanent.

Democrats often claim Republicans only care about the wealthy. A push to make the individual tax cuts permanent would offer Democrats a chance to prove that they truly want to help average Americans.

Would Democrats oppose such an effort in a midterm year? Particularly at a time when public approval for the tax cut is rising?

On the campaign trail, it’s evident the Democrats do not want to talk about the economy. Every day seemingly brings new, positive evidence of how the economy is growing and strengthening. Democrats want to distract voters from the economy, which is why they are feverishly working to lob new stink bombs every single day.

This is where Republicans come in. Forcing a vote on Capitol Hill on making the individual tax cuts permanent would remind voters of the stakes in the midterm elections.

Most Democrats will not honestly admit that they plan to raise taxes if they regain control of Washington. But they will raise taxes — you can bet on it.

Another vote on the Trump tax cut to make the individual rate reductions permanent would effectively force Democrats to admit that they do not want lower taxes. They need more tax dollars to increase the size of government. It is a central organizing principle for Democratic candidates and elected officials.

While there has been some talk of a second tax cut package later this year, forcing a vote on this issue is a clear, unifying, strategic and meaningful step that Republicans can take. Vulnerable Democrats can either help Republicans make the individual tax cuts permanent or they can show their true colors and deal with the consequences.

Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.


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