Republicans want to tie the strong economy to the tax cut they passed last December. This is the most powerful weapon they have in the coming election, not just because the policy appears to be succeeding, but also because it’s the only major achievement of the 115th Congress. Republicans are keeping track of how many companies have pegged bonuses, raises, or 401(k) perks to the tax cut—the number currently stands at 348. They urge voters to “check their check,” beginning this week, to see the extra take-home pay the cut has given them. And they are telling candidates to highlight the impact on everyday people: Christmas toys purchased, vacations enjoyed, and small businesses expanded as a result of a policy the GOP embraced but every Democrat in Congress voted against.
And the Democrats may be the House Republicans’ greatest advantage. Their leftward drift, torrid embrace of identity politics, and obsession with rebuking if not outright removing Trump may give swing voters pause. So might the Democratic leadership. Chuck Schumer wants to save the jobs of Democratic senators from red states, but the only job Nancy Pelosi is interested in saving is her own. She’s had a terrible few months, from saying that the tax cut will bring “armageddon,” to dismissing the bonuses and benefits as “crumbs,” to voting to shut down the government over illegal immigrants, to sitting on her hands during the State of the Union as the president lauded an eleven-year-old boy who decorates the graves of veterans, to urging her members to vote against the two-year budget agreement after her pointless DACA-thon. Even the Democratic caucus is tiring of Pelosi, who remains the party’s standard-bearer. The numbers of Democrats who voted against her increased from one government funding bill to the next. And Conor Lamb, the candidate for a Pennsylvania House seat who can’t remember calling Israel a terrorist state when he was a Penn undergraduate, says he’d oppose Pelosi as leader. Of course, he’ll probably forget saying that, too.