Juan Williams: GOP will suffer for tax giveaway

Editor’s note: The following column first appeared in The Hill newspaper and on thehill.com.

Republicans say the big news on Capitol Hill last week was that they passed tax cuts.


The bigger news on Capitol Hill was that Americans now trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle taxes and the economy, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

For the last 40 years, Republicans have consistently outperformed Democrats when voters were asked which party is the better steward of taxes and the economy.

Now, the Journal poll has voters favoring Democrats by 33 percent to 29 percent on taxes, and by 35 percent to 30 percent on the economy.

This is a total 180-degree, world is upside down, hell just froze over reversal.

So, the party of Trump has created a spending problem with a give-away to the rich — and now proposes to solve it by cracking down on the poor.

How can this be happening when Republicans are lining up to praise the president and the tax cuts?

“Exquisite presidential leadership,” said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “One heck of a leader,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

That sycophantic acclaim for a president who just destroyed voters’ trust in the GOP’s ability to deliver good economic results is strong evidence the party has lost its identity as the standard-bearer of fiscal conservatism.

The new Republican Party is a supporting cast for a bombastic salesman of a president who won the White House with a grand promise to cut taxes and create jobs to benefit working class people.

With his tax plan now signed into law, the curtains are finally pulled back on the Wizard of Trump Tower.

Voters can see that he has handed tax cuts to the very rich, the top 1 percent, and shareholders of large corporations — not the middle class or the poor.

Cutting corporate taxes — from 35 percent to 21 percent — is “probably the biggest factor in our plan,” and not tax reform to benefit the middle class, the president admitted as the bill made its way to his desk.

Voters can also see that Republicans who once trashed President Obama over increases in the federal deficit are now happy to look the other way.

And what about creating new jobs?

A Yale University survey of corporate chiefs in mid-December found only 14 percent planning to make new capital investments and hire more workers as a result of their tax cut windfall.

The man who did the survey of corporate leaders, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, told CNN Money that Trump’s claim that tax cuts will result in more jobs is “a lot of smoke and mirrors.”

Sonnenfeld pointed to the already low rate of unemployment across the nation as well as record corporate profits to make the point that big firms could already be expanding and hiring more people if that was in their plans.

Not a single Democrat voted for Trump’s tax cuts.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) summed up the new tax cuts in a fiery tweet last week:

“By the end, the #GOPTaxScam will… raise taxes on 86 million middle class households, hand 83% of the benefits to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. This will go down as one of the most scandalous, obscene acts of plutocracy ever,” Pelosi tweeted.

Pelosi was citing data from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center which found that under the law, the wealthiest one percent of Americans will get 83 percent of the tax cuts and the wealthiest zero point one (0.1) percent will get almost 60 percent of the tax cuts, both by 2027.

With so much money concentrated in the hands of so few Americans, it is no wonder that polls show this law is wildly unpopular, with support ranging in major polls only from 26 to 32 percent.

“Don’t let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it,” former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote last week on his website. “Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years — reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.”

And now for the political fall-out:

Before the tax cut vote, Democrats led Republicans on the generic Congressional preference ballot question by 15 points. Fifty-one percent said they would vote or lean towards voting Democratic, while just 36 percent said the same about Republicans, according to Monmouth University.

Look for those numbers to sink even lower when Trump voters realize they’ve been had. They were sold a bill of goods by his party when they voted for Trump-style economic populism in 2016.

And that is not the end of the story. The White House and Ryan intend to go after entitlement programs next year to cut federal spending. That means social programs for the elderly and the poor are now in immediate danger, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Trump party argues they have to make the cuts to keep the deficit from ballooning.

So, the party of Trump has created a spending problem with a give-away to the rich — and now proposes to solve it by cracking down on the poor.

It is beginning to look a lot like a wave election coming in 2018.