Thursday, December 21, 2017


BuzzFeed reports:
The political network affiliated with billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch will launch a multimillion-dollar campaign to sell the just-passed GOP tax plan to voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Wow! The public hates the tax plan now, but an expensive propaganda campaign is sure to turn popular opinion around -- isn't it?

I don't think so, because the Kochs have been spending like this all year, and to what effect?
The network, which is funded by hundreds of wealthy GOP donors, has already spent more than $20 million this year on pushing the bill....

Already this year, Koch network officials say they have hosted more than 100 events across 36 states on the new tax policy, knocked on more than 33,000 doors, reached nearly 2 million activists, and spent about $8 million on ad spending.
And as The Washington Post noted yesterday:
The 45committee, a pro-Trump conservative nonprofit group that is primarily funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the family of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, has spent about $15 million promoting a tax bill over the past few months.
The result of all that spending? As CNN noted on Tuesday,
Opposition to the bill has grown 10 points since early November, and 55% now oppose it. Just 33% say they favor the GOP's proposals to reform the nation's tax code.
I'd fear expensive future campaigns to shape public opinion on the tax bill if expensive past campaigns had accomplished anything for the GOP. They haven't.

But will the bill gain in popularity on its own? John Judis, writing for Talking Points Memo, warns us that it might:
The tax bill does give immediate benefits to the middle and lower classes. These include the increase in the child credit and standard deduction and lower rates.

... during the campaign next year, the Republicans will not be at a huge, or perhaps even a significant, disadvantage because they passed this bill. If the economy is still perking, they might even be able to turn the bill into a net political plus. That doesn’t mean they won’t be in trouble in 2018, but it does mean that they won’t be in trouble because of this bill.
But I think Jonathan Chait is closer to the mark:
... public opinion does not usually follow the dollars and cents so closely. In 2009, Democrats passed a tax cut that, while smaller in total size, gave most Americans a far bigger tax reduction than the Trump tax cuts would. A poll in February 2010 found just 12 percent of the public believed they had gotten a tax cut, versus twice as many who thought they had gotten a tax hike, and more than half who believed they had seen no change. Another poll in November of that year yielded even more grim results. Only 9 percent said they received a tax cut, while 39 percent reported a tax increase. Keep in mind, there had been no tax increases on anybody.
Chait also notes this quote from a veteran Democratic pollster:

That has the ring of truth. I just don't believe that most ordinary Americans express jubilation at increases in take-home pay so small that they can easily be eaten by one unexpected expense.

Apart from committed Trump/GOP voters, who are already inclined to see every Republican accomplishment in the best possible light, I think this tax bill will have very little positive impact on voter sentiment in 2018. I worry that it will help Republicans by significantly increasing plutocrats' contributions to them, but I don't think it will directly impress voters.

And when I'm reading stories like this...
The US is preparing plans to deliver a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea to knock out its nuclear weapons program.

The White House has “dramatically” ramped up its military plans amid fears that diplomacy won’t thwart North Korean despot Kim Jong Un from making good on his threats, sources told the UK’s Telegraph.
... I conclude that taxes might be the least of our concerns next November, if we survive.

No comments: