Democrats really don’t seem capable of controlling themselves when it comes to the tax reform bill and its impact on American workers. After having hyperventilated before its passage that the bill would literally kill people, Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill seem determined to convince people that they’re already dead. Two days ago, McCaskill told HuffPost that the tax bill was nothing but a scheme to make the wealthy even richer that left fewer resources on the table for the working people of Missouri:
“It’s a debt-inducing, make-rich-people-richer tax bill that in the long run is not going to be helpful to the vast majority of people in my state that are sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out how [to] come out even at the end of the month.”
Needless to say, this is utter nonsense — at least for the first eight years. Even for those Missourians who don’t work for companies paying bonuses and raising wages in the wake of the tax reform bill, income tax rates have dropped across the board. That means more money at the end of at least the next 96 months, when those rates expire. Furthermore, the biggest complaint from Democrats about the limitation on state and local tax (SALT) deductions does not apply to most Missouri households. The Show-Me State ranks in the bottom third of all states for tax burdens and below the national average, thanks to a fiscal policy in Missouri that has prevented it from joining the ranks of high-tax blue states like neighboring Illinois. (Nearby Minnesota and Wisconsin are worse, by the way.)
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler didn’t find the argument convincing, either:
If the wealthy end up with more money because they pay more in taxes, that’s not necessarily a fair way to look at tax legislation. It’s also important to look at the percentage change in a person’s tax situation.
The Joint Tax Committee and the Tax Policy Center both have offered analysis of the impact of the tax cuts in the first year after enactment. We offer two examples below, which show the impact either by income or quintile category. In both cases, they show a benefit for the middle class, especially in terms of a percentage change in taxes. But the money for the middle class pales in comparison to the tax benefits for the wealthy.
Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute has argued that both JCT and TPC present a misleading picture because they include payroll taxes — and the bill left payroll taxes untouched. He recalculated the JCT and TPC estimates to exclude payroll taxes. When you look at it this way, it appears as if the largest share of the tax changes goes to the middle class.
McCaskill, Kessler concludes, is trying to tell half a story to sell a misleading impression and gives her two Pinocchios for her effort:
McCaskill, in her comment, focused on the “long run” and also on the impact of people sitting around a kitchen table, which denotes a change in after-tax income. Certainly, under the 2027 scenario, many taxpayers would receive very little. But at the same time, it’s probably safe to assume that even a Democratic-led Congress and president in 2025 would seek to avoid tax increases on most Americans, even if they wanted to boost taxes on the wealthy.
So we face a conundrum. McCaskill framed her statement to reflect the findings of scorekeepers of the bill in 2027, even if the law was designed this way for budget reasons, not practical reality. Her staff says that means her statement is accurate. But in doing so, she ignores the more immediate impact of the law, which probably means noticeable tax cuts for her constituents for a number of years. So she’s telling only half the story.
What’s more fascinating in this story is that Democrats are essentially telling voters to choose between Democratic talking points and their own lyin’ pocketbooks. McCaskill has to run for her seat again in November, and if she’s telling voters that the sky is falling because they kept more of their own money, that sets up a cognitive dissonance than even a Todd Akin might not be able to cure. The extra 12.6% in tax savings for the second-lowest income quintile might not seem like much to McCaskill, but her constituents don’t consist of people who have a private airplane hanging around for their convenience, either.
It’s as if Democrats all got together and decided that snobbery was their best offense. McCaskill’s dismissal of the clear benefits of tax reform sounds similar to Nancy Pelosi’s “crumbs” comment yesterday:
By November, when voters have more money and have not yet been literally killed from tax reform, which party will sound like they’re more in touch with common Americans? The Republicans who delivered on tax reform, or the Democrats who sniff at the value of a thousand dollars to working-class families?