bobbyhawks wrote:I'm afraid things that people expect to backfire still won't until people are genuinely hurt by the decisions. Often, that can take a number of years to realize. Right now, the Republicans can do whatever they want because they have constituents more focused on supporting things that aren't liberal/Democratic than they are on core principles like fiscal conservatism and less petty goals for limited or simplified government. Aka, if it makes liberals angry, they seem to support it as of late, regardless of what it is.
The bigger danger is not that things aren't going to backfire, but that they will backfire and it won't matter. Polls already show that the tax bill is almost as overwhelmingly unpopular as the health care repeal bill was. Even majorities of Republicans and Trump voters expect it to raise
their taxes (and most of them will be correct). I don't think we have to wait for people to actually see their tax bill rise (or actually lose their health insurance, as with ACA repeal) for them to get angry. But it's much harder to say how much of that anger will actually translate into electoral problems for the GOP. The first issue is extreme partisanship, where you have, e.g., anecdotes of Alabama voters who openly loath Roy Moore and think that Doug Jones seems like a really good guy, who will nonetheless not vote for Jones because of the D next to his name. Alabama is one of the most solidly partisan states in the country, so it's an extreme example, and I do think in general the "polarization" in our politics is a much bigger problem among our politicians than in the electorate in the aggregate, but there will be some voters who will stick with the GOP even as they understand and are angry that the GOP is affirmatively harming them.
The other issue is, of course, the GOP's great success in this decade at cementing single party rule. They fully control half of the states, while the Dems have only six or seven. They've used that power to pass things like voting restrictions and extreme gerrymanders to further perpetuate their control. In Virginia, a purple turning increasingly blue state, the Dems' statewide margin for the House of Delegates was +8 over the GOP and they did far better than even they had dared to dream they might, but they will likely still fail to take control of the House (pending recounts in three districts). The Democratic waves that swept them into power in the House of Representatives in 2006 and then expanded their margin in 2008 were +8 and +11 margins, respectively. Now the general thinking is that they'll need to run at least +10 next year to even put the House potentially in play, and at +10 it merely moves from likely Republican control to tossup.
I think, though, that it's important to separate Republican voters from Republican politicians when you talk about things like "core principles." It is likely that "fiscal conservatism" was never a core principle for a lot of Republican voters. The electorate as a whole -- including the Republican electorate -- is, in general, to the left of our government on economic issues. This is exactly why Trump was able to run the campaign he did. He exploited cultural wedge issues to fire up his base while he promised not to touch things like Medicare or Social Security, to pass a tax cut that would take money away from rich people like him to return it to middle class workers, to launch a trillion dollar infrastructure plan, etc. It was all a lie, but people believed it, and that's what matters. It's easy to call politicians like Paul Ryan hypocrites (and they are), but what Paul Ryan stands for is not really what the majority of Republican voters stand for. I mean, we're talking about millions of people here, so obviously this is a very broad brush that doesn't include everyone
, but by and large, Republican voters are not against, e.g. social spending programs in general -- they're just against social spending on "them" (immigrants, blacks, etc) without cutting in the Republican voters themselves. Thirty years later, Reagan's "welfare queen" continues to be an incredibly damaging lie.
The great failure in my mind of the tax plan is that it needed to happen in two phases. If they had started with a single plan for tax simplification that tried to remain somewhat revenue neutral, they would have laid the groundwork for a way simpler tax cut later in the game (and earned support from some skeptics). Instead, the system appears to be on track to remain equally complicated, and actually more confusing than it was before. The problem is, nobody on either side is willing to tell their base they have to give up a tax deduction, even if the tax system is actually made much more fair and straightforward. Unfortunately, even the good deductions for good people who need it contribute to making our system terrible overall. It is just amazing the lack of vision in our country at the moment. We are too busy frothing at the mouth over the most recent thing we heard about to make any sort of rational decision.
While our tax code does have a lot of problems that should be addressed and a lot of deductions that shouldn't exist, the idea that it's too "complicated" is a total red herring. We shouldn't conflate "fair" and "straightforward." Republicans do this all the time as part of their calculated strategy to make the tax code more regressive, their most extreme proposals being a flat tax (which would certainly be "straightforward") or even the total replacement of the income tax with a national sales tax or VAT. That's not to say you couldn't craft a tax code that is both "fair" and "straightforward," but Republicans are not interested in fairness and I'm not really aware of any serious Democratic proposals toward straightforwardness, so "fair and straightforward" together are not really on the menu. But the reason this is all a red herring is that ordinary taxpayers shouldn't have to grapple with the complexities of the tax code anyway. This is not how things work in other advanced countries. In other countries, the local equivalent of the IRS does the work that we pay accountants to do for us. In Japan you literally just get a postcard in the mail (Paul Ryan's dream!) that lays out your earnings, your tax liability, and how much was withheld, and then you can dispute it if you want to. European countries have somewhat similar systems. Typically the IRS already has all the information on us anyway, so it's not like this is beyond the IRS's ability, and politicians from both parties have occasionally proposed legislation to have the IRS pre-populate our forms for us with the information they already have, as other countries do. But we're stuck with this system, which the GOP tax bill doesn't even attempt to address, because guess why? Companies like H&R Block and Intuit have a large financial stake in people who have to do their own taxes but can't or don't want to. (I also suspect a lot of Republicans don't really want to lose the "we need to simplify the tax code!" arrow from their quiver.)