Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump this past week earned their biggest legislative victory since sweeping into complete lawmaking power: a significant overhaul of the nation’s tax laws, including tax cuts for most in the middle class and sweeping cuts for wealthy individuals and businesses.
Looking forward, the GOP-authored tax cuts are a mortal lock to be a top issue of debate on the campaign trail next year.
Both sides believe it can be a winning issue for them.
Republicans are confident a voter with a lighter tax bill will be a happier voter.
“Letting people keep more of the money they earned is good economic policy,” said U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican representing eastern Iowa’s always competitive 1st Congressional District.
Democrats are confident voters will be upset with Republicans for passing tax cuts that provide a larger break, percentage-wise, to wealthier individuals and businesses, and are projected to add billions of dollars to the federal deficit.
“(Republicans) have all put a partisan victory for Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s special interest backers ahead of Iowa families with this tax bill. They should be ashamed of themselves,” said Troy Price, chairman of Iowa Democratic Party.
Early public opinion is with the Democrats. Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans said the Republican tax plan was a good idea, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published this past week. And by a 63 percent to 7 percent margin, Americans said the tax plan was designed to help corporations and the wealthiest individuals rather than the middle class, according to the poll.
Multiple polls found more Americans think the tax plan will hurt them more than it will help them.
That likely is coming from the multiple analyses that some low-income and middle-class wage earners will actually see a small increase in their tax bill as a result of the Republican plan, a projection to which Democrats have been calling attention.
But it is a small percentage of the population: just 1.2 percent and 4.6 percent in the two lowest-income brackets and 7.3 percent of middle class wage earners will see a tax hike under the plan in 2018, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
More than 90 percent of middle-class wage earners will get a tax break, the Tax Policy Center projects.
Democrats point to that same analysis and projections that in 2027, after some of the tax plan’s provisions end, a majority of middle-class workers then would see a tax increase while the wealthiest 1 percent would continue to receive tax breaks.
But Republicans say future sessions of Congress will have the opportunity to extend the tax cut provisions that, as written, are scheduled to end after 10 years.
So public opinion could swing back to Republicans once people start to see a lighter tax bill.
But Republicans also risk damaging any good will from their tax cuts if they opt to reduce spending on popular social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said recently on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the biggest drivers of our debt. ... That’s really where the problem lives, fiscally speaking.”
If Republicans manage to win the messaging war over their tax cuts, would they then forfeit that ground if they cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid? Expect that to be litigated on the 2018 campaign trail.
NYC's mayor comes to Iowa
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, spoke this past week at a progressive advocacy group’s annual fundraiser in Des Moines.
And no, de Blasio insisted, despite being an out-of-state politician giving a political address in Iowa, he is not planning to run for president in 2020.
“I’ve said it 400 times, I’m not one of those candidates,” de Blasio told the New York Times.
This political reporter, however, feels compelled to note de Blasio did during his address make one of those red-flag, “He’s running” type of comments we often hear from presidential hopefuls here: He noted a familial connection to Iowa. (He said his grandmother was born in Iowa in 1888.)
De Blasio gave the keynote address at the annual fundraiser for Progress Iowa.