News & Politics

'We've Lost the Messaging Battle': Republican Poll Shows Voters Were Not Fooled by the GOP Tax Scam

The Republican tax cut bill was a complete political failure — and Republicans know it.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

The Supreme Court vacancy, once presumed to be a political winner for midterm season by Republicans, is currently blowing up in their faces. But there is another massive scheme Republicans executed in the hope it would bolster their prospects in November which has also turned out to be a failure: the GOP tax scam.

According to Bloomberg, an internal poll commisioned by the Republican National Committee found some sobering numbers for the tax cut bill, which was signed by President Donald Trump last December:

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.

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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 report's top-line conclusion: "Voters are evenly divided on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ... but, we’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue."

This news comes as the GOP is moving to push a second round of regressive tax cuts, which Trump believes will turn out his base.

Republicans initially sold the tax cut bill, which deeply slashed corporate taxes, created a special exemption for "pass-through" entities, ended the individual health insurance mandate, and cut individual income tax rates while also ending exemptions used by the poor, as a boon to working families. But in reality, the top 1 percent of Americans saw 83 percent of the tax cuts.

And between the corporate rate cut and a one-time tax on overseas profits that was supposed to persuade corporations to invest profits at home, companies are engaging in an explosion of stock buybacks and CEO bonuses — in fact, buybacks are outpacing normal business spending for the first time in 10 years, as corporate executives are cashing in. Far from creating jobs or raising worker pay as Republicans promised, some companies, like Kimberly-Clark, have even used their tax cuts to pay the cost of laying off employees.

To top it all off, the law is riddled with drafting errors and mistakes due to the haste with which it was passed, and experts say that tens of millions of taxpayers are expected to owe the IRS extra money next year due to accidental underwithholding.

This would be a tough policy to defend even with disciplined, competent messaging, but Republicans have managed to turn the public against them even further with their accidental honesty.

During passage of the bill, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said it was reasonable the tax cut would mostly benefit the rich because the poor just spend all their money on "booze or women or movies," and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) made it clear the voters' opinion of the bill was irrelevant because his rich campaign donors were telling him "Get it done or don't ever call me again." After it was passed, House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that the bill was a success because a secretary in Pennsylvania gained an extra $1.50 a week in take-home pay. And some other Republicans just openly celebrated that the bill put more money in their own pockets, with Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) buying a multimillion-dollar luxury yacht on the same day he voted to pass the bill.

Initially, Republicans tried to use Democrats' votes against the tax bill in attack ads. But these ads were very quickly pulled as it was clear voters didn't want to hear it, and soon Democrats were winning elections by attacking Republicans for voting for it.

Ultimately, the GOP tax scam has been such a disaster that it threatens to derail the entire economic strategy Republicans have been pursuing for decades. The bill was such a brazen giveaway to the wealthy that it broke the American voting public's automatic love of tax cuts. In losing the messaging battle, Republicans finally got voters to pay attention to the emptiness of their fiscal agenda — and they could end up paying a steep price.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.