Republicans are panicking about their disastrously unpopular tax bill — which more than half of Californians opposed — and are throwing millions of dollars into a dishonest ad campaign to try to protect vulnerable Southern California Republicans a full nine months before the election.
The American Action Network, a Republican group with close ties to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), aired an ad during the State of the Union spinning a skewed tale about the tax bill. In the deceptive television ad, Republicans claim the bill will save a typical family $2,000.
But Republicans structured the bill to steadily increase taxes on the typical family over 10 years. In the end, working-class Californians end up with a tax hike of hundreds of dollars.
The ad was part of a multi-million dollar scramble to try to turn public opinion around on a tax bill, one of the least popular pieces of legislation in Congressional history, and is similar to ads previously run in Southern California.
According to the L.A. Times, the same group ran a six-figure ad buy throughout January in the districts of four vulnerable Republicans: Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford, Mimi Walters of Irvine, and Steve Knight of Palmdale.
It is rare for television ads to run so far ahead of an election. Then again, it is also rare for a group of politicians to vote in favor of a bill so thoroughly loathed by constituents.
Panic from Republicans over this bill is not surprising. A recent analysis concluded “the Republican party’s House and Senate majorities are at risk nationally” as a result of the tax bill.
“Our polling illustrates that the public strongly opposes tax cuts for themselves if the wealthy get most of the benefit, which is exactly what the GOP tax law passed by Congress will do,” said Bryan Bennett, who worked on the analysis.
Unfortunately for the careers of Southern California Republicans, an ad campaign will not change the reality of the tax bill.
The Republican tax bill gives the top 0.1 percent an average tax cut of more than $190,000 in 2018, while the bottom 20 percent would receive an average benefit of a mere $60. Republicans claim, contrary to evidence, that showering the wealthy with more money will magically grow the economy.
With layoffs and store closings, the reality in California is not living up to the hype.
Even California business leaders did their best to warn Republicans, including Walters and Knight, that the tax bill would “damage the California economy.”
Universities and colleges in California warned of increased student loan debts and hardship for California’s “neediest students or most vulnerable patients being able to maintain access to quality higher education.”
Californians understand that the tax bill is a raw deal. Half of Californians said that the bill would adversely impact the state, and only 17 percent thought it would be helpful.
Only three in ten Californians supported the bill, while more than half opposed the bill (and 40 percent “strongly opposed” it).
Despite the overwhelming opposition to a bill that Californians knew would be detrimental, it was California Republicans who provided the margin needed for the bill to pass.
In a twist of fate, it might be the California Republicans losing their seats in Congress who provide the margin for Democrats to retake control of the House of Representatives in 2018.