On top of efforts to drum up openly racist "voter fraud" narratives and stoke xenophobic hysteria over the migrant caravan in an attempt to galvanize their right-wing base ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, President Donald Trump and the GOP are also offering a last-minute promise of a major middle class tax cut that critics are mocking as an overt admission that the Republican tax law passed nearly a year ago has done virtually nothing to help workers—while sending an enormous windfall to rich donors and big corporations.
"Caught red handed!" declared Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) in a Twitter graphic after the president vowed to push a 10 percent middle class tax cut if Republicans retain control of Congress next month. "Trump says he and the GOP are working on a 'very major tax cut' for working families. So is he finally admitting that the GOP tax scam was just for the rich and corporations—not for working families like he claimed?"
Over the weekend, #Trump claimed that he & the #GOP are working on a plan for “a very major tax cut” for working families. Didn’t they say the #GOPTaxScam that passed last year would help working families? So does this mean they're admitting that it benefits the rich & big corps? pic.twitter.com/LQiGtEl69D
— For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) October 23, 2018
If the GOP tax law was such a boon for working families, Patriotic Millionaires asked Trump on Tuesday, "why are you scrambling to claim another tax cut for them is going to happen before the midterms?"
— Patriotic Millionaires (@PatrioticMills) October 23, 2018
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) characterized Trump and the GOP's promise to pile another tax cut on top of their $1.5 trillion giveaway—which many Republicans are not touting on the campaign trail because it remains extremely unpopular—as "empty rhetoric" given that Congress is not even in session to work on such a measure.
"This empty rhetoric is an admission by Donald Trump that his tax law only helps corporations and the donor class."
—Sen. Ron Wyden
"This empty rhetoric is an admission by Donald Trump that his tax law only helps corporations and the donor class," Wyden said. "The middle class will see straight through this scam just like they did with Trump's broken promise to deliver $4,000 wage increases."
When Trump first mentioned what has come to be known as the "mystery middle class tax cut" during a rally in Nevada over the weekend, Republicans expressed confusion and said they weren't aware of any new tax cut in the works.
But House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) opted to play along with the president's made-up tax promise on Tuesday, declaring in a statement that his committee will "continue to work with the White House and Treasury over the coming weeks to develop an additional 10 percent tax cut focused specifically on middle class families and workers, to be advanced as Republicans retain the House and Senate."
As the Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney and Matt Fuller pointed out, Brady's statement contained "at least one confession: Trump's timeline was pure fiction."
"The president initially suggested Congress would pass this tax cut before the election," Delaney and Fuller continued. "But lawmakers have left Washington to campaign in their districts. Congress isn't due back until the second week of November, at which point they'll have to deal with a looming government funding deadline. Congress will not be passing a tax cut before the election—or any time soon after."
In a statement on Tuesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas)—who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee—described Trump's fictional tax plan as "a second-chance tax cut."
"They had an opportunity to benefit the middle class when they rushed through their big tax bill last December," Doggett said. "[Trump is] now determined to create the impression that something's coming that was not delivered by him when he could."
While Trump peddles on-the-fly policy sweeteners to his base in an attempt to boost turnout for next month's elections, Republican leaders have been rather vocal about plans to make cuts of a rather different kind.
As Common Dreams reported, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed progressives' fears last week by blaming America's soaring deficits on safety-net spending rather than his party's enormous tax cuts for the rich, and proclaimed that cuts to Medicare and Social Security must be made to bring spending under control.
Trump himself echoed McConnell's remarks last Wednesday, declaring that he plans to do "a lot of cutting" after the midterms.
"We're going to cut some spending," the president added.