Bad Optics on Republicans' Tax Proposal

The last idea has the GOP looking like the party that favors the wealthy over the working class.

Political Editors · Dec. 14, 2017

Politics is as much about optics as it is policy. Unfortunately, Republicans too often fail to take seriously the impact of the former upon the latter. Nowhere is this problem more evident than in the current negotiations between House and Senate Republicans as they work toward a unified tax-reform plan. The GOP’s latest compromise plays right into the Democrats’ caricature of Republicans as greedy money grubbers who always favor the wealthy over and against the working middle class.

Aiming to make the tax cuts as effective as possible for working class families, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) sought to lessen the corporate tax cuts by 1% in order to offset expanding the child tax credit (CTC). Republicans quickly voted this down as it was argued that the 20% corporate tax rate needed to be maintained.

However, now Republicans are seeking to raise the corporate tax rate to 21% — just as Rubio and Lee proposed — but this time to offset tax cuts on individuals making $500,000 or couples earning $1 million annually. Wisdom of the policy aside, the optics really can’t get worse, as it looks almost literally like Republicans are taking from the working class in order to give to the wealthy. The truth is much more nuanced, especially given the fact that many working-class families end up paying next to nothing in federal income tax, even though they are hit with payroll taxes like everyone else. But the worst part is the perception that Republicans created when they were unwilling to budge on the corporate tax rate to help families via the CTC, but now when it comes to cutting tax rates on the wealthiest they seemingly have a change of heart and are willing to negotiate that 20% corporate tax rate.

Now the Democrats will scream about the Republicans favoring the wealthy, and, unfortunately, they will have a point — however skewed.

Update: Rubio says he’s a “no” unless the tax credits are expanded. Bob Corker is also likely a “no” over deficit concerns, meaning Republicans can’t lose any other senators.

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