Aren’t “messaging” and salesmanship supposed to be Trump’s great strengths? How did an almost across-the-board tax cut, the lone real domestic achievement of the GOP’s period of total control of government, end up with fewer than one in five people believing that their taxes were actually cut? Even if only Republican voters believed that, the overall number would have been upwards of 40 percent across the entire population.
Perhaps a few less presidential “WITCH HUNT!” tweets and a few more touting the numbers on ower taxes might have improved public opinion.
Eh, it’s his own fault for not demanding a more populist framework to the cuts. Structure them so that it’s mainly the rich who benefit and don’t be surprised if the lower classes don’t realize they kept more of their own money this year too.
Overall 28 percent believe their taxes have gone up and 27 percent think they’ve stayed the same. The truth, that most people paid less, is the minority position among the public at 17 percent. I can’t get over the fact that only a third of *Republicans* take that position either. Low-information voters, of which there are many, may not have heard about the tax cuts at all and thus have no idea if they’re being asked to pay more or less next year. A Republican, believing instinctively that government is always after more of his or her money, might assume as a matter of simple fiscal inertia that their wallet is being squeezed more tightly, even when Trump is in charge.
Or perhaps there’s a darker explanation:
Nobody likes to give themselves credit for this kind of messaging success, but progressive groups did a really good job of convincing people that Trump raised their taxes when the facts say a clear majority got a tax cut. https://t.co/tcZFr8l9Ck
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 8, 2019
Hats off to Yglesias for celebrating the effectiveness of his own side’s disinformation. Rarely do you see cynicism about political messaging that bald-faced. You (and he) know how the info pipeline works — from progressive groups to progressive activists on social media to our very fair and balanced friends in the impartial mainstream media. The left likes to believe that amplifying lies favored by its partisan base is exclusively the province of scurrilous right-wing outlets like Fox News. Tain’t so.
But again, the GOP made it easy for them by structuring the law the way they did. Examine the first graph here from the Tax Policy Center estimating the net benefit to various income groups from the new tax law and it’s easy to see why the public might have been led to believe that only the richest households were getting money back from the new law. Don’t forget either that the benefit to middle- and lower-class households was “hidden” via slightly less withholding from paychecks instead of returned via lump sum at tax time. If you’re getting back an extra $1,000 from the feds this year and that’s spread across 26 installments, you’ll obviously notice it less than you would if it was handed to you at once. In fact, it may be that Americans have convinced themselves they’re paying more in taxes this year because their tax refunds are smaller even though they’re smaller only because less money was withheld from their checks over the past year under the new law.
I don’t know what this means for Trump next year. Obviously he’d like to run on the fact that he and his party let Americans keep more of their hard-earned money than Democrats would prefer, but the public’s just not primed to respond to that message. They didn’t “see” the lower taxes they paid. So, as a political matter, those cuts probably don’t exist except among the hardcore Trumpers who’ll be voting to reelect him anyway.