Rebound: New Poll Shows Good News on GOP Tax Reform Proposal, Improved Trump Ratings

Posted: Oct 05, 2017 1:05 PM

As Leah mentioned earlier, the latest national survey from Politico and Morning Consult contains several top line results that will arrive as welcome news at the White House.  The GOP's tax reform package -- both on specific provisions and overall -- is viewed pretty favorably by most Americans following a successful rollout, and the president's job approval rating has ticked back up into the mid-40's.  These tax plan numbers are strong, even if Trump's rating has merely improved to 'less bad.'  He's still underwater, but trending upward:

After being informed about the tax proposal's various elements, voters give it a general thumbs-up by nearly 40 points.  Ironically, the least popular piece is corporate tax cuts (the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world), which even many Congressional Democrats support; President Obama even proposed it.  I'm a supporter of tax reform and find much to like about the Republican package -- a good, fair summary of which is available here.  My concerns stem from potentially-exploding deficits (even assuming economic growth anticipated by so-called "dynamic scoring) because the unsustainable national debt isn't a problem conservatives should ignore when Republicans are in charge.  We have a spending problem.  Another red flag involves ensuring that no middle class families (or any families, for that matter) face a tax increase under the plan.  Several people have made the case that the eventual bill could end up being a tax hike for some upper-middle class households.  The whole pitch is lower taxes and a dramatically simplified system.  In any case, the Left, predictably, is seizing on a premature Tax Policy Center analysis to attack the GOP plan by framing it as -- altogether, now -- "tax cuts for the rich."  First, read my post about "the rich" and "fair shares."  next, check out this Wall Street Journal editorial hammering the TPC report as propaganda:

The Tax Policy Center is a joint project of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute that the media routinely labels “nonpartisan.” Its record of hostility to any GOP tax reform that cuts tax rates shows the opposite. And the latest evidence of bias is its willingness to jump to conclusions about the GOP plan before crucial details are known. The center’s progressive economists released a “preliminary” estimate of the GOP tax plan that claimed the proposal would “reduce federal revenues by $2.4 trillion over the first ten years and $3.2 trillion over the subsequent decade.” Also: The top 1% of taxpayers would “receive about 50 percent of the total tax benefit.” The press immediate broadcast this with headlines like “Republican Tax Cut Would Benefit Wealthy and Corporations Most, Report Finds.” Political mission accomplished.

Yet the analysis is impossibly specific, given that last week’s blueprint excluded the income ranges for the individual brackets of 12%, 25% and 35%; the value of the expanded child tax credit, and when that would phase out; rates for pass-through businesses, or safeguards for abuse that may limit who can claim the income or how much; the discount rate at which cash and other corporate assets will be invited back to the United States; which deductions will be eliminated; and many other details that would be essential for any honest score...The Tax Policy Center assumes almost no growth impact from tax cuts, whether on capital or income. When growth increases or revenues rise after a tax cut, as they did after the 2003 tax cut, the center’s progressives attribute it to something else...Partisans can honestly debate economic assumptions, but the Tax Policy Center betrays its bias by making premature guesses based on partisan assumptions.

Republicans have shoved back hard against the Tax Policy Center's slanted findings, calling the report "misleading, unfounded and biased." But the GOP would be wise to anticipate these attacks when their broad blueprint is converted into actual legislative language, and the details come into sharper focus.  They desperately need to put a major win on the board in order to stave off rampant demoralization among their grassroots.  Of equal concern is continued inaction and lack of accomplishments exacerbating a "donor revolt."  Finally, after languishing in the 30's for virtually all of September, the Politico poll mentioned above is now the third consecutive survey that pushes his approval numbers into the low-to-mid 40's.  That's not anything to write home about per se, but it's an improvement -- which is remarkable in light of the media's truly historic and extraordinary negative coverage of this presidency:

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