Trump Touts Tax Cuts, but Can They Save the GOP from a Midterm Meltdown?

Trump Touts Tax Cuts, but Can They Save the GOP from a Midterm Meltdown?


As the headlines about James Comey’s scathing criticisms of President Trump multiplied on Monday — and as presidential attorney Michael Cohen headed to a New York court for a hearing on documents of his seized by the FBI — Trump flew to Florida for an afternoon roundtable on the tax cuts he signed into law last year.

That’s probably just how Republicans facing re-election in November would want it:

The president touting his biggest legislative achievement, mostly sticking to the subject at hand and selling “the biggest tax cut in history, bigger than the Reagan tax cut” (still not true) rather than — or at least in addition to — tweets about the scandals surrounding his administration.

“You’re getting a lot more money in your weekly or monthly checks than you ever thought possible, so people are really liking it,” Trump said of the tax cuts.

But the massive tax cuts might not be the winning issue Trump and Republicans hope they’ll be. While Republicans facing tough midterm prospects might be encouraged by a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing that the Democrats’ edge in a generic ballot has fallen by more than half since the beginning of the year, the tax cuts might not motivate voters enough to stem significant GOP losses.

“Some recent polls show that the majority of Americans still don’t support the tax law, despite an uptick in sentiment since the end of 2017,” Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur reports. The boost to paychecks has frequently been small, sometimes unnoticeable. And though some Republicans say they’ll have to keep hammering the issue all year, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that, of the issues voters cited as most important to them heading into the elections, taxes ranked last. The Trump/GOP message just might not play even after Americans finish this year’s taxes and start looking ahead to next year’s returns.

“Part of the Republican party’s problem in selling the tax cuts is that the answer is murky for many,” Kapur writes. “Variables like dependents and itemized deductions can complicate the picture, even though most — 65 percent — will see a tax cut in 2018. And even for voters who do see a cut, whether it’s enough to sway their decisions at the ballot box is far from clear.”