When the GOP forced through its reckless tax scam giveaway to corporations and billionaires, some lawmakers made it clear their priority was not to help working families, but to please the wealthy donors who keep their campaigns funded.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said they had to get it done or “the financial contributions will stop.” Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said “who cares” if the tax cuts are unpopular, and later clarified, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'”
But according to a new report from CNN, Republicans failed even at keeping their top donors happy.
It turns out several wealthy Republican donors are now withholding funds — including financiers Paul Singer, Ken Griffin, Warren Stephens, Cliff Asness, Bruce Kovner, and Daniel Loeb — because they are angry the bill’s corporate tax cuts do not apply to their hedge funds.
As CNN notes, “Although some of the donors have not sworn off contributions to individual campaigns or even the Republican National Committee, all have so far withheld contributions to the House and Senate Republican campaign arms — which are key players in the 2018 midterm elections — as a way to send a message over the law.”
Furthermore, these six donors “accounted for more than $50 million to Republican groups during the 2016 election cycle; Singer ranked among the top 10 donors of either party, while Griffin and Stephens ranked in the top 20.”
To put this in perspective, in the 2016 cycle, the total expenditure on all candidates was $161 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and $134 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
So if this continues, the GOP could see noticeable shortfalls at a time when their majorities are already vulnerable — and when, ironically, their lawmakers face voter anger over the tax cuts.
Some GOP-aligned groups like Americans for Prosperity have run ads against Democrats for opposing the bill. But instead, the bill is rapidly becoming a political disaster for Republicans.
Analyses have found it will put the budget deficit over $1 trillion, and that 83 percent accrues to the top 1 percent of income earners and 80 percent to foreign investors. The bill turned out to include drafting errors and glitches that Republicans are now forced to ask Democrats to help them fix.
Health insurance costs are now set to spike as much as 94 percent in parts of the country thanks partly to the bill’s individual mandate repeal. And some businesses, far from creating jobs, are actually using their tax cuts to fire their workers.
Voters have not fallen for the scam. Recent polls find just 27 percent of voters think the tax cuts were a good idea. Some vulnerable Republican lawmakers organizing rallies to support the tax bill, like Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, have been greeted with near-empty parking lots.
And it is not helping them win elections. In Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, where voters backed Trump in 2016 by 20 points, Republicans had to back off ads promoting the tax scam after an underwhelming voter reaction. They went on to lose the special election to Democrat Conor Lamb, who opposed the tax cuts.
Republicans could and should have seen all of this coming. The bill polled terribly even before it passed. But as the remarks of lawmakers like Graham and Collins showed, the GOP was desperate to deliver the goods to their donors.
If they could not even do that, Republicans should seriously question whether their tax crusade had any point at all.