At what point do working people who supported Trump start noticing the chasm between his rhetoric and reality—which is a government of, by, and for billionaires? This is trickier than it seems.
The tax bill, as we’ve all read, is a phony. It delivers most of the benefits to the rich, and screws middle-class homeowners in high-tax states. But it does deliver modest help to about 45 percent of the poor and working class.
How does it do that? Well, if you increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion, there is a lot of tax cutting to spread around, even if most of it goes to the rich. The doubling of the standard deduction will help many working people, and so will the rate cuts.
So even though public opinion polls show that the tax bill is monumentally unpopular, it may not be the best weapon to use against the Republicans in 2018.
But there are plenty of others, and the whole is more toxic than the sum of its parts.
Voters may not grasp all the nuances of how Trump is gutting worker and environmental protections, or failing to deliver on public works, but almost nothing about Trump or his program is popular. Most of all, Trump himself.
The Alabama Senate election gives some important clues to where the Republican vote will seriously crater in 2018 and 2020. Moore suffered big losses among women, relative to Trump’s Alabama’s support in 2016. Moore, of course, had a record of predatory sexual behavior not unlike Trump’s, and Trump’s own outrageous sexual conduct is back in the news.
In Alabama, there was a big falloff in Republican support among the young, the well-educated, and in the suburbs. And there was impressive black organizing and turnout.
Individual Republican candidates may try to distance themselves from Trump in 2018, but it won’t work. The midterm election will be a referendum on the most unpopular president in modern history, and the Republicans in Congress work hand in glove with him.
After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report comes out, and it’s clear that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, Republicans will be even more unpopular if they try to stonewall an impeachment inquiry.
Yes, the tax bill is an abomination—and a very complex one—but it’s only one arrow in the Democrats’ quiver for 2018.