GOP Surrenders in the Tax Cut Messaging Battle

GOP Surrenders in the Tax Cut Messaging Battle


Republicans aren’t saying much about the tax cuts in their midterm campaigns, The Washington Post reports, and when they do mention taxes it’s often to accuse Democrats of wanting to raise them. 

Republican lawmakers are still enthusiastic about the tax legislation passed late last year but blame botched political messaging for the lack of interest among the general public. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Tuesday, “I think the misleading claims out there have taken hold. I do think just repeating the false narrative of ‘tax cuts for the wealthy’ is an easy narrative to sell, but it’s been fact-checked so often that it just simply isn’t true.”

Some Republicans say that President Trump’s focus on issues that motivate his base, like crime and immigration, makes it harder to break through with a message focused on the tax cuts and the booming economy. “Their messaging has been extremely poor. We’ve got the best economy in 25 years and they aren’t really talking about it. They are letting Democrats control the messaging,” said the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, a former Trump economic adviser.

Republican pollster David Winston said that the GOP has failed to educate the public about the tax legislation, including the doubling of the standard deduction, the increase in the child tax credit and the reduction in rates for most taxpayers. Members of focus groups he has dealt with were sometimes surprised to learn about what was in the bill – and “that is completely on Republicans that that is the state of people’s knowledge,” Winston said.

The bottom line: Republicans may have lost the messaging battle, but messaging is not their only problem. As the Post also noted, numerous analyses have shown that the tax cuts are indeed tilted toward the wealthy, and the tax cuts have delivered only modest boosts in take-home pay for most voters, with few companies sharing their windfalls in the form of higher wages. Corporations, on the other hand, have done very well, with share buybacks headed to record levels this year, according to Goldman Sachs.