Nov 27, 2017

Senate moves ahead with politically risky tax bill

The Senate GOP tax bill gives most wealthy people substantial tax cuts — although plenty of other people will get tax cuts as well, especially in the early years. While this seems to be making the bill unpopular with the public, Republican senators are going all out to pass the bill this week anyway, desperate to get a legislative win.

Data: Tax Policy Center; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
Data: Tax Policy Center; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why this matters: Focusing on the distribution of cuts lacks some nuance — Republicans say their tax bill will boost the economy — but only 25 percent of voters approve of the GOP tax plan, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. And 59 percent of voters say the plan favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. These kind of approval numbers don't win elections, particularly following an equally unpopular health care bill.

Yes, but:

  • The bill could get more popular if it results in economic growth. "Tax cuts pass, economy grows, jobs grow, wages rise, voters will be happy. That's the hope," a senior Senate GOP aide said.
  • Tax reform and cuts are central to the GOP brand, and many Republicans truly believe this bill is good policy.
  • The stakes are extremely high. "They will melt down if they can't do this. Calls everywhere for [Mitch] McConnell to step down, [Steve] Bannon screaming about needing to replace leadership. Trump tweeting about low energy senators. It's their last stand," one GOP lobbyist told me.

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