If any group has been convinced by the rhetoric of the Republican tax plan, it’s Republicans.
That’s not surprising in one sense. Part of modern American politics is partisans supporting their team. The Republican team is pro-tax-bill, so more Republicans are pro-tax-bill. But in another sense, it is surprising: Despite that partisan loyalty, the tax plan isn’t overwhelmingly popular with Republicans, either.
The selling points for the tax bill were that it would result in tax cuts for the middle class directly and benefits to the middle class indirectly by spurring economic growth and job creation from corporate tax cuts. That outside analyses plastered these assertions with various question marks and asterisks was generally ignored by Republican leaders. (For example, even after accounting for growth in the economy, the national debt is expected to grow over the next 10 years by $1 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. The JCT also estimates that most of the benefit from the cuts would go to wealthy Americans, and most businesses report that they plan to largely invest new cash in stockholders, not employees.)
Republicans told pollsters from Quinnipiac University that they agreed with party leaders’ predictions. More than half said they expected the middle class to benefit most; less than a quarter said the wealthy would. Eighty-six percent figured the bill would lead to new jobs and economic growth. Fewer than 1 in 5 thought the bill favored the rich.
Interestingly, 55 percent of Republicans figured that the middle class would benefit the most from the bill, while only 27 percent of the actual middle class agreed. Sixty percent of the middle class figured the wealthy would benefit more.
Overall, views of the bill were less optimistic. Only 29 percent of Americans told Quinnipiac they approved of the tax bill, the same percentage that approved of the bill in polling from Gallup.
The broader context for the bill is that it’s being advocated by a party and a president who themselves aren’t that popular. In August, Americans saw the parties as about even in their ability to handle taxes. In the new Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats gained an 8-point advantage, suggesting that the unpopularity of the bill was dragging down perceptions of the GOP.
It’s so unpopular, in fact, that it’s less popular than Trump in both Quinnipiac’s and Gallup’s polls — even among Republicans.
In Quinnipiac’s poll, Republicans viewed Trump 15 points more positively than they view the tax bill. In Gallup’s, Trump had an 8-point advantage among members of his own party.
So, sure, the Republican rhetoric on the tax bill is echoed by Republican voters. But it’s also the case that fewer than three-quarters of Republicans support the bill in both of the new polls. Trump is relatively popular with his party — and his tax bill less so.
This is for a bill that ostensibly cuts taxes. Yet it’s less popular than the most unpopular president in his first year in office in the modern era.