Republicans have figured out the sales pitch on their tax-cut plan, reports Ben White. They’re going to sell it as a populist assault on corporate fat cats. “Republicans have polled the phrase ‘tax reform is about unrigging the economy,’” he notes, “and it’s done well with swing voters.” A White House official tells White, “It’s about framing the argument and what the goals are and how what we’re doing is going to affect the populist base.” Sounds populist!
The catch, as Richard Rubin reports, is that they don’t have a populist plan. In fact, they don’t have a plan at all. And as Republicans are discovering the political difficulty of taking tax breaks away from people who have them, they are increasingly coming around to the idea of just passing a big tax cut. “A positive for the tax cuts is the donor base is very strongly in favor of it,” says David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, a lobbying organization for upper-bracket tax cuts. “That will help leadership get the votes it needs in the House and the Senate.” McIntosh’s assumption that the donor class will call the shots is almost certainly correct.
The juxtaposition between these two reports tells you everything you need to know: The talking points have been decided on; the policy has not. The article about the talking points describes the “base” they’re aimed at as “populist.” The article about the policy describes the base as donors. If there’s one thing the Republican party still knows how to do, it’s pass big tax cuts for their donors and pretend they’re a populist assault on the well-to-do.