Trump, taxes, and the GOP

But the nature of Republican anti-tax sentiment is also varied. In movement conservatism, there’s an ongoing, interesting tension between starve-the-leviathan theories and the supply-side vision, exemplified by the Wall Street Journal editorial page among other sources, in which low taxes on high incomes and investment can allegedly make the public coffers fuller.

Both of these theories, but especially supply-side ideology, inform the assumptions of much of the (WSJ-reading!) donor class, but the donorist vision, in my experience, has its own distinctives: It’s less interested in the specifics of the Laffer curve or any other economic theory, and more inclined to take a vaguely Randian view of high taxes as an unjust punishment for success, and an ungrateful response to all that the entrepreneurial and successful do to keep incomes rising, GDP going up, the “takers” in the money, and so on.

Then the average Republican voter has a different perspective still: He or she may have imbibed a little Robert Bartley or bought into the alleged “47 percenter” problem, but those kind of ideological speculations are less important than the immediate tax sensitivity that comes with life in the modern American middle class. This prototypical Republican voter, who might be pulling in $45,000 working a trade or $95,000 running a small business (or vice versa), isn’t necessarily being soaked by the federal income tax, but he or she remains an anti-tax voter because even small tax fluctuations year to year feel like an immediate threats to the ability to save, to plan, to expand or preserve a business, to buy a home and put money away for college and think about retirement and generally preserve their peace of mind. And in some cases — perhaps 45 percent of the G.O.P. electorate, depending on the polling — the supply-side element in Republican thinking is irrelevant to this voter’s perspective; instead, he may think of himself as being squeezed from both sides, by the tax-evading rich and the work-avoiding poor alike.