In what appears to be a tacit admission that "massive tax cuts to the wealthy, rich CEOs, and big corporations don't resonate with voters," vulnerable congressional Republicans up for reelection in 2018 have drastically curtailed promotions of their tax law in digital ad campaigns and on social media ahead of the November midterms, according to a Reuters analysis published on Monday.
"A familiar pattern: lie about the intent and consequences of a policy, pass it on behalf of the donor class, and then pivot to totally irrelevant culture war issues and hope the victims are too dumb to notice."
—Sean Illing, Vox
The GOP's growing reluctance to celebrate their signature legislative achievement of the Trump era may have something to do with Reuters survey data from March showing that a mere three percent of Americans say they have benefited from the tax law, while Wall Street banks and major corporations continue to tout record profits.
"All told, the number of tax messages has fallen by 44 percent since January," Reuters reported on Monday. "For several congressmen in tough reelection fights, Reps. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), messaging is down much more—as much as 72 percent."
— Damon Darlin (@darlin) May 7, 2018
Republicans' rush to "turn down [the] volume" on taxes in the months ahead of the 2018 midterms comes in stark contrast to the GOP's jubilant celebration of their $1.5 trillion tax legislation in the weeks after it was signed into law by President Donald Trump last December.
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According to Reuters, this shift likely has to do with the fact that the "flurry" of worker bonus announcements from massive corporations have "trailed off" while numerous analyses have shown that these one-time income boosts pale in comparison to the gains seen by ultra-profitable companies and wealthy executives.
Uh oh. The most vulnerable Republicans are not selling the GOP tax bill. Maybe because just 3% of adults have noticed receiving a tax cut. https://t.co/oiKwvorwaH
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) May 7, 2018
A familiar pattern: lie about the intent and consequences of a policy, pass it on behalf of the donor class, and then pivot to totally irrelevant culture war issues and hope the victims are too dumb to notice. https://t.co/gDuwafjB6U
— Sean Illing (@seanilling) May 7, 2018
As columnist and radio host Richard Eskow noted in an article for People's Action Blog on Monday, congressional Republicans up for reelection are hardly the only ones who have drastically altered their messaging on the tax law in the face of evidence that its benefits are being enjoyed almost solely by the rich.
Having initially sold the tax law he helped construct as a "middle-class tax cut," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has since been forced to revert to "the same old 'trickle-down economics' Republicans have been foisting on the American people for decades" as reports continue to show that corporations are using their tax windfall to buy back stock rather than invest in workers, Eskow observed.
"When confronted with the reality of stock buybacks...Mnuchin has no response to offer except an old and discredited idea," Eskow writes. "He had no choice but to discard his now-discredited arguments, toss out a stale right-wing myth in their place, and hope nobody would notice. Meanwhile, he and his cronies are on track to win twice—with tax cuts and stock payouts that benefit the wealthiest among us—while most Americans are destined to lose. That's what happens under a government of grifters."