Democrats’ Rhethoric Doesn’t Match Reality on Tax Reform

This post has been updated.

By Adam Kimelman

In the Trump era, congressional Democrats have harnessed anti-Trump energy to stop Republican legislative hopes. From healthcare to net neutrality, the far-left has attempted to portray all Republican-backed legislation, sometimes literally, as the end of the world in order to make it unpopular with the American public.

The latest attempt to do this has been with the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a sweeping reform of the federal tax code passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.

Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted, “Is there any going back after this #TaxBillScam? To America? Does it matter now if Trump is impeached? There’s no America now.” MSNBC contributor Kurt Eichenwald, in a similar vein, tweeted that “America died tonight… Millenials: move away if you can. USA is over. We killed it.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has, on multiple occasions, called this tax cut “The worst bill in the history of Congress.” Yes, the next Speaker of the House if Democrats take it back in 2018 has asserted that a tax cut for the majority of Americans is worse than the Fugitive Slave Act, the Indian Removal Act, or Public Law 503 (which codified and authorized Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt’s infamous Executive Order 9066, allowing for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II). The entire Democratic Party has followed Pelosi’s ridiculous lead, with every single one of them voting against the tax reform bill.

The rhetoric from the Left has seemed to work in terms of shaping public opinion. FiveThirtyEight found that the December average of polls for the tax cut showed 52 percent of Americans opposing the cut, with only 33 percent supporting it. By stating that this tax bill will have apocalyptic ramifications, Democrats have made it historically unpopular with the American public.

But is this now-law really as bad as the Democrats are telling us? Do Americans even know how it will affect how much they pay in taxes?

According to a Monmouth University poll, half of Americans believe that their taxes will go up because of the GOP tax law, while only 14 percent believe they will receive a tax cut. In reality, the left-leaning Tax Policy Center found that all income groups would receive a tax cut as a result of the bill.

This gap between the public’s perception of the bill and reality was perfectly shown in a segment from ABC News, where they interviewed Americans in different financial circumstances across the country. While everyone interviewed thought their taxes would either go up or not change because of the tax bill, all of the interviewees were pleasantly surprised to learn that they would be receiving a tax cut. The rhetoric from the Left has poisoned the debate on this now-tax law to the point where half the country incorrectly assumes they will not get a tax cut.

Democrats have also seemingly had a change of heart on two important tax issues: lowering the child tax credit and lowering the corporate tax rate.

First, almost every Democrat at some point or another has stated the need to preserve and defend child tax credits, which are a key deduction for many working class families. In 2014, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation tripping the child tax credit, stating that she hoped “this common sense measure that everyone would benefit from, would be one of the highest priorities for this Congress.” 

After the child tax credit was doubled in the final draft of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, thanks to the leadership of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gillibrand called the bill a “cruel joke” that “to oppose this corporate welfare that will harm New York’s middle class.” Democrats like Gillibrand are going to have a difficult time explaining to their constituents why they voted against a doubling of an essential tax credit for working class families, especially after they have advocated similar legislation in the past.

Similarly, Virginia senator Mark Warner, along with fellow Democrats, have said that the corporate tax rate is too high.

In June 2017, Warner called for a lowering of the corporate tax rate, stating“We are not competitive anymore when we have nominally the highest corporate tax rate in the world.” After the Tax Cut and Jobs Act proposed cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, Warner called it “the single worst piece of legislation that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the Senate.” 

“What I find so disheartening is, we’re looking at the last five or six quarters at record-high corporate tax profits,” Warner added. “We’ve not seen that translate into investments in American factories or American workers.”

In just six months, Warner and other Democrats miraculously changed their mind on lowering the corporate tax rate. As for it translating into investments in American factories and workers, we’ve seen AT&T, Boeing, Fifth Third Bank, Wells Fargo, and Comcast announce increased investment and wage hikes as a direct result of the tax bill. Warner did not just flip-flop in spectacular fashion, but he is also wrong about the consequences.

Finally, Democrats have pointed to the shortfall in revenue as a result of this tax cut as a reason to oppose it. After saying nothing as President Barack Obama added over $9 trillion to the national debt, more than any other President, it is astonishing that Democrats are suddenly concerned about deficits.

Maybe they will join Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) in passing his balanced budget amendment. That would force Congress to cut spending, starting with Kentucky senator Rand Paul’s Government Waste Report, which over three years has already pointed to over $6 billion of egregious government spending. Among the 2017 edition was paying for a clown school in Argentina, building trails for national parks in Russia, and over $225 million spent on building roads in Afghanistan while we still have crumbling roads and bridges in the United States.

There is plenty of government spending to cut, and if Democrats are seriously worried about the deficit caused by this tax cut, they should join Republicans and get to work cutting spending. It is also notable that many of these Democrats worried about the impacts on the deficit also support Medicare-For-All healthcare plan which would cost $25 trillion over a decade.

In short, Democrats have successfully been able to use hyperbolic language in order to sway public opinion on the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, even to the point where half of Americans incorrectly assume for their taxes will rise. Instead of having a civil debate about tax cuts, they have attacked and vilified a bill that contains many policies which Democrats have promoted in the past. If Democrats really believe that America is being destroyed because of policies that will let Americans keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, they can feel free to move to another country where the government will take more of their money.

About Adam Kimelman 6 Articles
Adam Kimelman is a third-year student government and history major at the University of Virginia and currently serves as the chairman of the school's College Republicans. He interned with the Jeb Bush presidential campaign and Ed Gillespie's campaign for Virginia governor. He was the finance director for The National Discourse.