…is that we’ve got an opportunity to start undoing some of these debts before the 2020 election. — Speaker Paul Ryan
Washington, DC (RNS) The argument over President Trump’s tax reform bill has reached what analysts say is a crucial juncture.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that half of Americans still disapprove of the tax bill, with some opposing it because it raises taxes on the middle class, but not on the wealthy.
Almost a third of the public say the tax bill will cut the deficit; roughly a third say it raises the deficit. Less than 1 in 10 says it will not make a difference, according to the Pew Research Center’s survey of 1,500 adults.
“Our polling shows that 53 percent of the public opposes the tax bill. Not everybody likes everything about it,” said Amy Levine, director of research for Pew Research Center. “You’ve got those who say the tax cuts benefit the wealthy a little too much.”
All this promises to draw further focus on the tax bill in Washington ahead of tax day on April 17. The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the tax bill Thursday, then send it to the president.
Republicans say the bill will help all Americans by reducing their tax rates and increasing the standard deduction. It also repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty and reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said of the tax bill: “The republicans are in the grip of the far right wing. … The Republicans are right now very vulnerable to a Democratic [presidential] nominee who can talk about their disastrous tax policies.”
But Democrats in Congress don’t have any particular tax plan of their own. Vice President Mike Pence and Pelosi met recently on the subject, but there were few details.
“We haven’t been in conference, we have not been talking about a Democratic alternative. We have a Democratic caucus that is in the control of a president who’s very unpopular with the American people,” Pelosi said this week on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee.
But the Democrats face the distinct challenge of making their case against the Republican bill now while also preserving their legacy in the event that their next leader must preside over their inevitable defeat, as has been foreshadowed.
Consider the tale of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her illustrious career.
Pelosi became the first woman to be speaker of the House when Democrats took control of the chamber in 2007. But her stature was tarnished when the White House forced through two Republican bills just a few months later, one of which would have included tax cuts for the wealthy.
She was re-elected speaker a few years later despite a less-than-perfect performance during the 2010 health care debate.
Pelosi first became a celebrity in the early 1970s as a leader of the liberal California politics of her hometown of San Francisco. In fact, in the 1970s, San Francisco and Pelosi became synonymous with the wealthy hippie style of young leftist agitators, a tradition that continued into her political career.
She would not take office as speaker for another nine years, during which Republicans gained enough power to deny Pelosi the necessary votes to secure her re-election.
That left her without the full support of her own party. Pelosi’s subsequent career as a law and politics professor was rewarded with a second stint as House speaker, which she would win in 2011.
This time, Pelosi has gone all-in on raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She has also been organizing among House Democrats to make sure they have built the strongest voting slate to retake the House in 2018.
“She has historically seen the ability to shape and win elections,” said a Democratic source familiar with Pelosi’s ambitions. “She is ready to take it to the highest level.”