Why the Media War Over Trump's Tax Cuts Is Just Getting Started

Why the Media War Over Trump's Tax Cuts Is Just Getting Started


Tax Day is, of course, the perfect time for Republicans and Democrats to resume their messaging battle over the GOP tax law that passed late last year.

Republicans took to TV and social media to hail the day as the last time people will file under the old system and to tout the benefits of the new law — check out this video of 84-year-old Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) gleefully shredding pages of the old tax code and then singing “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!” At least we think that’s glee, and we’ll be generous by calling it singing. 

Democrats and other critics of the new law, meanwhile, flooded the airwaves and social media with reminders that analyses of the new tax law found that it disproportionately benefits corporations and the wealthy, linking to articles like this one from ThinkProgress noting that the Congressional Budget Office last week said the new law will add incentives for companies to move more assets offshore.

Republicans still hope to make the tax overhaul the bright, shining highlight of their re-election campaign. USA Today reports that Republican candidates and groups led by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity have already run almost 17,800 television ads this year promoting the tax reform — and that an even bigger ad blitz is coming, with both Republicans and Democrats spending millions more to push their preferred narrative.

That kind of ad onslaught might be necessary if Republicans, or Democrats, want to keep taxes in the spotlight. Jim Tankersley of The New York Times notes that, “by all sorts of metrics, Americans aren’t talking very much about a law that Republicans had hoped to make a centerpiece of their midterm election message.” He points out that cable news coverage of taxes has dropped precipitously, and even the president has taken to tweeting more about trade and tariffs than the tax bill.

And as we suggested yesterday, the GOP’s message on taxes might not resonate as much as Republicans hope. Public opinion of the new law remains negative, with 52 percent of people surveyed by Gallup opposed to the overhaul compared to 39 percent who approve of it. “Anyone getting a paycheck should by now have seen the impact on the amount withheld for their federal income taxes, yet over half of Americans are uncertain if the new law will help or hurt them in the long run,” Gallup reports.

Similarly, a new poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal finds that 27 percent of respondents say the law was a good idea, including 56 percent of Republicans. More than a third of poll respondents, 36 percent, still say the law was a bad idea. The results of a New York Times poll this month were only slightly better for Republicans, with 48 percent approving of the tax overhaul and 47 percent disapproving.