2. Voters will like the bill more once they see the benefits
Perhaps the biggest public-opinion problem with the GOP bill is that voters believe it will mostly benefit the rich. Most Americans don’t think they will get a tax cut.3 But, as Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley of The New York Times wrote, most Americans will get a tax cut under the bill (at least in the short term). As House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said, “Whatever the polling data is that’s out there today doesn’t recognize just how powerful this bill is going to be to put more money in the pockets of hard-working families.”
But we’ve heard Scalise’s argument before, and it hasn’t panned out. Before the Reagan tax cuts of the 1980s and the Bush tax cuts of the 2000s, Republicans argued that the middle class would benefit. Yet the percentage of Americans who thought those policies helped the richest Americans the most actually rose over time. With regard to the 1981 Reagan tax cuts, that number went from 59 percent in April 1981 to 69 percent in July 1984. And with regard to the 1986 Reagan tax cuts, it climbed from 48 percent in October 1986 to 65 percent in April 1988. For the Bush tax cuts, the percentage of Americans who thought the rich benefited the most went from 55 percent in April 2001 to 60 percent in October 2004.