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February 2, 2018

Repeal and Replace … Tax Cuts and Jobs?

Democrats cruise into the 2018 elections with a dour mantra that surely won’t fly with the middle class.

Without a single vote from the minority party, Americans were treated to a Christmas bonus of sorts as the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed by President Donald Trump just in time for that last cup of egg nog. Since then, hundreds of companies have announced a plethora of good economic tidings: employee bonuses of $1,000 or more, increases in the corporate minimum wage — sometimes to that magical $15-an-hour leftist price point — and expansion or major investments in infrastructure placed into motion. Indeed, while some Democrats sneered about how “pathetic” the cuts were and then doubled down on their remarks about the “crumbs” they claim are being given out by wealthy fat cats, those “crumbs” will start showing up in paychecks over the next few weeks as new withholding tables are placed into service. Even those few who would otherwise lose on the deduction end would receive that benefit.

Judging from their reactions at the State of the Union address, Democrats can’t seem to stand prosperity. And this is a problem, because their once-formidable 15-point lead in generic congressional balloting has all but disappeared since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed. Clearly, the Democrats are coming to be seen as the Party of No in a country whose economy has been humming along. Given that their demagoguery failed before passage, it’ll likely to continue to backfire.

So it’s on to Plan B, and something borrowed from the GOP — the concept of “repeal and replace.” You see, Democrats claim that they’re all in favor of middle-class tax cuts, but changes to the estate tax and to the provision that allows a few homeowners in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California (ahem, Nancy Pelosi) fully deduct their state and local taxes — those have to go. To the Democrats, it’s simple: They just have to educate the public through a series of what Pelosi calls “teach-ins” on “what this tax scam means to families.” (Perhaps they’ll unveil new definitions of terms such as “theft,” “Armageddon,” and an array of others they’ve used to attack these tax cuts.)

However, unlike the Tea Party-backed Republicans of 2010, who figured they could waltz right into office and enforce their anti-ObamaCare mandate, most Democrats are realistic about the prospects for change while Donald Trump resides in the Oval Office. “As long as [Trump] is president, we’re not going to have the 2/3 to override a veto,” warned outgoing Michigan Democrat Rep. Sander Levin. To even have a chance of passing such a bill, Democrats would need to regain the House and Senate. It’s true that Democrats have a slim lead in the generic congressional poll, but the reality is that they’d have to win a significant majority of the 40 to 50 House seats seen as “in play” in order to regain control. It’s even worse in the Senate, where 26 of the 34 seats on the ballot belong to Democrats — eight of them in states Trump won. So while Democrats need just a net gain of two seats, the Senate math is hard, too.

We will grant, of course, that anything can happen in the 10 months remaining until the 2018 election. Surely the Democrats and the media (but we repeat ourselves) will do their best to talk down any Trump successes and talk up any damaging findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s rather dubious “Russian collusion” probe. But if the economy stays on track, a pocketbook election isn’t likely to favor the Democrats. All the GOP has to do is remind the voters to look at their paycheck and remember which side voted to make it noticeably larger, and which side dismissed it as mere “crumbs.”

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