How tax cuts could decide the midterms

That last contention may be the most critical to the tax bill’s impact in November Former President Bill Clinton won his epic budget showdown with a Republican-controlled Congress in 1995 and 1996 by linking the GOP’s tax cuts with its simultaneous proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats have to sell a more subtle argument today: that the huge revenue loss the tax cuts precipitate will eventually force congressional Republicans to retrench Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety-net programs. House Speaker Paul Ryan has made that linkage easier by urging precisely such cuts to the safety net, but the Senate has shown little interest in following suit this year. That means Democrats will need to work harder than Bill Clinton did to tie the tax cut with threats to Medicare and Medicaid.

“I think that message will be central to everything that Democrats do going forward on the tax bill,” predicted Democratic pollster Geoff Garin. In suburbs around the major metropolitan areas—ground zero in 2018—Democrats can also plausibly claim the bill will eventually raise taxes on many people by limiting mortgage and local tax deductions.