Republicans have precisely one legislative accomplishment to run on in 2018: their tax cut scam. Normally, that would work. Normally, their tea party base would be so thrilled over it that they’d skate through November. But nothing is normal anymore, and too many people understand that the tax cuts passed have nothing to do with them, and in fact undermines the thing that they really do care about—health care. That means Republicans are having a hard time making this one thing they’ve accomplished work for them.
NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Gallup and Quinnipiac University surveys show that the law started polling better earlier this year, but approval as of March was still below 50 percent. Sentiment was boosted when some companies announced bonus payouts to workers, as well as by bumps in take-home pay after new withholding tables were issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Still, only about a third of respondents have said they noticed an increase in their paychecks, according to surveys by Gallup and CNBC last month.
“It will only play well if we continue to remind folks what the benefits are. People started getting more money in their paychecks in February — by November they may not remember that,” said Representative Mike Conaway of Texas. “We’re going to have to continue to brag on it all year.”
Most voters say taxes aren’t a top concern. Among the issues they selected as most important to them going into the midterm elections, taxes ranked last, with just 8 percent of respondents choosing it, the Quinnipiac survey showed.
In most of these polls, voters have said that health care ranks at the top of their concerns. These very tax cuts also got rid of the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act, and that will result in higher premiums for health insurance on the individual market. Those premium increases are going to be announced in October, weeks before the election, and will dominate headlines. For plenty of people, the bit more they see in their paychecks could be dwarfed by insurance premium hikes.
It doesn’t help at all that what’s dominating the headlines now when it comes to the tax cuts is how much it has helped big banks and corporate stock-holders. It also doesn’t help that the occupier of the Oval Office would rather talk about his racist delusions than “boring” tax law, even during an event held specifically to tout that very law.