Failed GOP tax bill causes more headaches for Republicans

Paul Ryan

Republicans in Pennsylvania are pulling ads touting the tax bill because they aren't working in a congressional district Trump won by 20 percent.

As more information about the tax bill comes out, Americans across the country are learning the bill favors wealthy Wall Street investors while leaving workers behind. Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) continue to promote the unpopular bill, but Republicans in a Pennsylvania special election are learning that voters aren’t buying the misinformation the GOP is peddling.

In the hotly contested special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, the Washington Post reports that “Quietly, the tax-cut ads have cycled out of the major buys.” While Republicans have said that they intend to hammer Democrats over the legislation and use it to keep their majorities in the House and Senate, the Post notes, “Just one commercial now on air mentions the tax cuts.”

The race in a district that went to Trump by 20 points is between Democratic Marine veteran Conor Lamb and GOP state Rep. Rick Saccone.

It should be the sort of district that Republicans can hold on to, and where tax legislation crafted by the party is a help, not a hindrance. But that is not the case. Voters there are ambivalent at best about the law, and one Trump voter in the district said it was “almost like being thrown a bone.”

Recent polling shows that voters aren’t seeing the effects of the legislation on their paychecks, which makes sense because the bill was designed to benefit the ultra-wealthy, not average people.

Voters in Knight’s district know a bad deal when they see one. Fewer than 1 in 3 saying they would personally benefit from the tax bill Knight voted for, which may help explain his 36 percent approval rating.

Walters’ Orange County district is also opposed to a tax bill which disproportionately benefits the rich. Support for “reversing tax cuts for the rich and eliminating tax loopholes for large corporations, and [using] that money to make long-term investments in rebuilding our roads, bridges, and schools” hit 60 percent in a recent poll. In that same poll, Walters is losing to two possible Democratic challengers, which spells trouble for her in November.

Democrats have won races in places like Virginia and Alabama thanks to Trump’s historic unpopularity. He and his party are on defense, while Democratic voters have shown over and over that they are energized and dying for an opportunity to reject the GOP.

Ignoring the reality of the tax legislation — it was designed for the few, not everyone — Republicans held out hopes that they could use it to stave off massive losses. But the Pennsylvania election shows that even in Trump country, it isn’t working. If the message is failing there, suburban California Republicans could be in big trouble.

Republicans know this now, and they are beginning to grasp just how much trouble they are in.

Dan Desai Martin contributed to this article.