Warning Signs for the GOP

Bloomberg reports that the GOP’s own internal polling has told them that the tax cut trick isn’t working.

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin — 61 percent to 30 percent — respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The result was fueled by self-identified independent voters who said by a 36-point margin that large corporations and rich Americans benefit more from the tax law — a result that was even more lopsided among Democrats. Republican voters said by a 38-point margin that the middle class benefits more. …

… The RNC study says Americans worry the tax law will lead to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, concluding that “most voters believe that the GOP wants to cut back on these programs in order to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.” It attributes that finding to “a fairly disciplined Democrat attack against the recent tax cuts.”

The fact that Republicans keep trotting out and saying we’ve got to cut Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget possibly also contributed to the public perception that Republicans plan to cut Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget. Just a guess.

Graphic from GOP internal poll

Still, since it’s about the only trick Republicans have, they plan to continue to use it.

Still, Republican leaders continue to try to sell the law. They’re planning on holding a floor vote in the House next week for a second phase of tax changes that would make the individual changes permanent. Since it has a slim chance of passing the Senate, the effort is seen as a political messaging tool to remind voters of the cuts and force Democrats to take an uncomfortable vote against tax relief for middle-class Americans.

“We promised more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks. And we delivered on that promise,” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said in an email, adding that Americans are “better off now” under the tax changes.

For a few days Republicans in Missouri were running television ads of Donald Trump making fun of Claire McCaskill for voting against his tax cuts. That may not work even in Missouri. I think many middle-income voters have noticed that they really aren’t any better off, even though Republicans keep telling them that they are.

Paul Waldman:

The reality is not in dispute. Around two-thirds of the benefits of the tax cuts went to those in the top quintile of taxpayers, with about 20 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent. By 2025, when the cuts are fully phased in, the top 1 percent will get 25 percent of the benefits. (See details here.) The centerpiece of the plan, furthermore, was a gigantic corporate tax cut. Republicans promised that this cut would produce a wave of investment and wage increases for workers, but so far the only wave that has resulted is a tsunami of stock buybacks benefiting wealthy shareholders, which is exactly what liberals predicted.

Those facts are available to anyone who might seek them out, but most people aren’t going to. What people do notice, however, is that their paychecks didn’t look much bigger after the tax cut. Maybe they’re getting a few more dollars a week, but it certainly wasn’t life-transforming.

See also The Trump Tax Cuts Did One Thing: Give Rich People More Money.

Trump’s hard-core supporters will continue to believe they’ve all gotten rich and down is up and fairies are real and white makes right, but the percentage of the population that falls into that camp really is shrinking.  The couple of bucks working folks may have gained in tax cuts have been offset by increases in health care, gas and other costs of living. Republican messaging is telling them they are all better off because of Trump, but they aren’t.

I have long said that the American people can easily be fooled about matters like foreign polcy that are outside their personal experience. But when it comes to things like their own income that they deal with in their own lives, sooner or later they figure things out. Will Republicans figure out that their tax cut trick isn’t working? Or will they push ahead with more tax cuts?

But we’re not done with the internal poll. The poll has told Republicans that Nancy Pelosi is more popular than Donald Trump. That ought to terrify them.

Another poll is telling them that Brett Kavanaugh is the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in the history of polling Supreme Court nominees. Some of them may worry that if they push through his nomination they may take a bigger hit in the midterms than they were already anticipating, but they’re probably going to push it through anyway. Why? Maybe they think it’ll be their last chance to get a corporate/GOP toadie on the Court.

After being held in check for a few days, Trump finally started badmouthing Christine Blasey Ford. Well, a snake is a snake, right? You knew he’d go there. He can’t help himself.

However, a law professor guy named Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr. argues in the New York Times that there could be plenty of grounds to impeach Kavanaugh even if he’s put on the court. And a lot of Dems in Congress are vowing that they will re-open investigations into Kavanaugh if they re-take the House or Senate, even if he’s already on the court.  As I wrote a few days ago, there’s a lot of hinky things about Kavanaugh beside the assault allegation that seem to have been shoved under a rug.