Originally designed to be the Republican Party’s savior for the midterm cycle, the GOP’s historic tax giveaway to billionaires and corporations has morphed into an electoral albatross.
It’s gotten to the point where lots of Republicans in close races don’t even want to talk about the bill, and that includes Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).
“The most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the tightest congressional races in the November elections are talking less and less about the tax cuts on Twitter and Facebook, on their campaign and congressional websites and in digital ads, the vital tools of a modern election campaign,” Reuters reports. Knight is, by some reports, the most vulnerable Republican in the country.
What Reuters found was that social media messages Republicans are posting to constituents about the tax bill have fallen more than 40 percent since January.
And for Republicans in especially tough re-election races, the pro-tax rhetoric has plunged more than 70 percent.
“All told, the number of tax messages has fallen by 44 percent since January. For several congressmen in tough reelection fights, Steve Knight in California, Jason Lewis in Minnesota, and Don Bacon in Nebraska, messaging is down much more — as much as 72 percent,” Reuters stated.
Knight bragged about the tax bill nearly 20 times in January and again in February. But in March, that number dropped to only six times. In April, it dropped again, to a mere five times.
A GOP spokesman acknowledged to Reuters there has been a “downtick” in tax bill rhetoric because members have moved on to other issues.
There are at least three problems with that spin, though. First, Congress passed virtually no laws of significance under Trump, so it’s not as if members are knee-deep in legislative heavy lifting.
Second, Trump’s spring of nonstop scandals (Russia, Stormy Daniels, etc.) has completely obliterated any GOP effort to host a national discussion about taxes. Trump’s erratic behavior makes it nearly impossible for Republican to focus a public debate on taxes.
And third, most voters just don’t like the Republican tax bill and don’t think they’ll ever benefit for it. Nationally, just 27 percent of Americans approve of the bill.
Meanwhile, Trump, who enjoys the largest megaphone in the Republican Party, doesn’t seem to care about the issue and won’t commit to any sort of extended campaign to try to sell the doomed legislation.
Last month, Trump traveled to West Virginia for what was billed as a “Roundtable Discussion on Tax Reform.” But he quickly ditched his prepared remarks about taxes, called them “boring,” and turned the event into ugly political rally.
Another huge problem for Republicans in terms of using the tax bill as midterm weapon is the negative impact it will have on states like California. For Knight, Los Angeles homeowners will see a tax hike of up to $76,000 over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Californians on the whole are on the hook for $12 billion in more taxes in 2018 alone, with billions more in the years to come.
As more information about the flailing bill emerge (billions of dollars going to foreign investors, virtually no impact on jobs and wages), no wonder Knight doesn’t want to remind his constituents of the critical role he played in helping to make the bill become law.
Dan Desai Martin contributed to this article.