Incumbents’ Votes for Trump-GOP Tax Cut Law Cited as Key Issue in Newspaper Endorsements of Challengers

October 22, 2018

Trump-GOP Tax Cut Law Backfiring in GOP Reelection Bids

Democratic challengers are winning newspaper endorsements around the country due in part to their opponents’ support of the Trump-GOP tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy and big corporations.

Chicago Sun Times: “We have endorsed (Rep. Randy) Hultgren (R-IL) in the past, but we can’t this year. On key issues such as health care, tax cuts that favor the wealthiest Americans and lax gun laws, we believe he is increasingly out of step with a majority of 14th District voters.” The newspaper endorsed Democratic challenger Lauren Underwood.

Houston Chronicle: “Rep. (Pete) Olson (R-TX, who this newspaper endorsed in 2016) must think no one is connecting the dots between calling himself a fiscal conservative and his support for Trump’s tax cuts and profligate spending, which have raised the national debt to more than $21 trillion.” The newspaper endorsed first-time Democratic challenger Sri Preston Kulkarni.

Houston Chronicle: Opposes reelection of incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and chief architect of the Trump-GOP tax cut law.
“Brady could have pursued a revenue-neutral corporate tax cut by filling loopholes and lowering the tax rate. That sort of plan would have even attracted a few Democrats. Instead he ended up pushing through the Trump administration’s reckless tax bill. The result? Handouts to the wealthiest, stock buy-backs for Wall Street and a skyrocketing national debt for the next generation of Americans. The whole scheme can only make you wonder: What the hell is the House Ways and Means chair for? … We have routinely endorsed Brady for this seat, but he wouldn’t meet with us this election cycle.” The newspaper endorsed Democrat Steven David, Brady’s challenger.

Bangor (ME) Daily News: “Earlier this year, (Rep. Poliquin, R-ME) voted for a Republican tax cut package that had minimal benefit to working-class Mainers and has ballooned the deficit, prompting Republican leaders to call for cuts to Medicare and Social Security.” The newspaper endorsed state Rep. Jared Golden, the Democrat.

The Sentinel (Aurora, Colorado): “(Rep. Mike) Coffman (R-CO) continues to defend the GOP tax-cut bill from this year that inarguably most rewarded America’s corporations and wealthiest citizens. There’s no need to research the overwhelming warnings from economists across the political spectrum that the GOP tax-cut act will plunge the nation into intractable debt. Simply ask yourself if you’ve gotten richer, or even noticed much of anything, since the tax cuts went into effect in June. If you’re like the vast majority of middle class and struggling Aurora-area families, the answer is a resounding, ‘no.’ Trickle-down economics has never worked for the middle class, and it’s not working this time.” The newspaper endorsed Democrat Jason Crow.

The Journal Gazette (Ft. Wayne, Indiana):“Though Rep. Banks (R-IN) has pushed back against White House policies more than some of his colleagues, he has generally been part of a subservient Congress that passed a budget-busting tax cut weighted toward the rich and allowed the Trump administration to dismantle environmental rules, weaken our health care system, and conduct a reckless and barely comprehensible foreign policy.” The paper endorsed Democrat Courtney Tritch.

The Columbian (Washington State): “One example can be found in the tax cuts and spending bills (incumbent Rep.) Herrera Beutler (R-WA) helped her party pass in the past year. While those efforts have helped extend the economic boom that was underway, they also have ballooned the federal debt to more than $21 trillion. During the Obama administration, Herrera Beutler said, ‘Our current national debt is crippling businesses, hurting families and stifling the growth of new jobs.’ Now, she demonstrates little concern about the debt under a Republican administration.” The paper endorsed the Democratic challenger Carolyn Long.

Portland (ME) Press Herald: (Rep. Bruce) Poliquin (R-ME) voted for the $1.5 trillion Trump tax cut that has done little for the average American but is now ballooning the deficit. The loss of revenue caused by the tax cut has led Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.” The paper endorsed Poliquin’s challenger Democrat Jared Golden.

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina):We agree with (Democrat Dan) McCready over (Republican Mark) Harris on many issues. McCready backs sensible gun laws that Harris doesn’t. He opposes the Trump tax cuts that Harris supports and that are fueling the federal deficit.”

Des Moines (Iowa) Register: “Republicans promised fiscal responsibility, yet they have punted on putting the nation back on sound financial footing. Their one major legislative success, the 2017 tax cut, is projected to add $1.9 trillion to the debt. This, after Republicans howled endlessly about the comparatively meager deficits created during the Obama administration. …. That’s why we’re recommending that Iowa voters send home Reps. Rod Blum, David Young and Steve King and return Rep. Dave Loebsack to the House.”

Arizona Daily Star: “Martha McSally’s Arizona follows the Trump agenda, embraces tax cuts for the wealthy, values veterans, wants a border wall, seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and is itching for a fight on trade, tariffs, immigration, foreign relations and the environment.” The newspaper endorsed Democrat Krysten Sinema for Senate.

Unionville Times (Pennsylvania CD-6): “(Crissy) Houlahan strongly opposed the tax cuts — which despite claims by GOP leaders — appears to have strongly increased the federal budget deficit without offering broad economic benefit to those in the lower and middle income brackets. (Greg) McCauley, a tax attorney and fast-food franchise owner, suggests that he has fought ‘overbearing taxes and regulations’ for his business clients. He supported the GOP tax plan, although he decries the deficit and suggests it could be closed through cutting waste and fraud, a somewhat tired refrain from generations of politicians who never seem to find much in the way of said fraud and waste once elected.” The paper endorsed Democrat Houlahan.

Last December, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax code that mostly favors large corporations and wealthy individuals, the GOP’s signature achievement. The richest 1% of taxpayers will get one-fifth (21%) of the tax cuts in 2018, according to the Tax Policy Center. But their share grows to 83% when fully implemented, It will also add $1.9 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

But the tax cut law has not proven popular with voters. Public opinion polls consistently show that most Americans disapprove of the tax cut law. An late September Gallup survey shows the public opposes the tax law by 46% to 39%, and 64% say they’ve seen no increase in their paychecks as a result of the tax cuts that they were promised. And an internal poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee said the GOP had “lost the messaging battle” because voters by a 61% to 30% margin said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle-class families.”

For these reasons, Republican candidates have largely backed off mentioning the tax cut law in their campaign ads, while some Democrats are using the tax cut vote against their challengers. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), one of the architects of the tax cut law who is in a toss-up race, hasn’t mentioned it in any of his reelection campaign ads.