Tax Law Failed To Save GOP Majority

The biggest accomplishment for congressional Republicans — passing a sweeping new tax law at the end of 2017 — didn’t end up saving the GOP majority in the House.

The economy wasn’t the biggest issue of the midterm elections, according to exit polls, which found that a plurality of voters think the new tax law has not had any impact on their personal finances.

Democrats claimed victory on the issue.

Some say the law helped prevent the GOP from losing even more seats because it boosted the economy. They blame losses in the House on separate issues and factors.

Other GOP lawmakers, however, expressed concerns that a provision in the law hurt Republicans in high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey — where the GOP ended up losing a total of six seats, with two races still uncalled.

The law, which cut tax rates across-the-board for individuals and businesses, was unpopular at the time it was signed, but Republicans thought it would become a political winner as people started seeing more money in their paychecks.

The law’s popularity increased in the weeks following its enactment, when many companies announced that they were giving their employees bonuses. But the tax law never got widespread support, and polls ahead of the election tended to show voters divided on the measure.

While Republicans spent some time on the campaign trail touting the tax cuts and arguing that Democrats would raise taxes if elected, other issues, such as immigration, often featured more prominently in their campaigns.

“To properly message the tax law, it takes a lot of time and effort, and you have to stay on the same page,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

He said that didn’t happen, particularly in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, when both Republicans and Democrats decided to focus more on issues designed to mobilize their bases.

Read more from Naomi Jagoda at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy