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Monday’s dispatch: Republicans aim to solidify unpopular agenda that plays to their base
The explanation for this week’s Republican disconnect from broader public opinion is simple: Passing tax reform, coupled with attacking the Affordable Care Act, will please top GOP donors, and play to the Republican base.
As CNN points out, a poll last week found congressional Republicans have won the approval of a majority of GOP voters following their tax reform efforts. This is the first time Republicans have hit that mark since June.
Republicans are also facing pressure from a host of business and conservative groups to pass their tax plan. “Hey Congress, it’s time to deliver!” screams a banner on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce website tracking the legislation’s progress. The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board praised the legislation as “the most pro-growth tax policy in decades.”
But there’s widespread debate over whether that is true. Even if the bill spurs growth, this win for congressional Republicans could cost them control in 2018.
By wide margins, Democrats and independents oppose the plan. Sixty-four percent of respondents in a Harvard-CAPS Harris poll said they opposed the bill, while 52% in a Marist survey said it would hurt their families.
The repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate has not been a focus of polling on the tax bill. But past surveys have shown a clear majority of Americans do not want Republicans to take action if it will hurt the ACA. Further, a majority want the government to ensure health care coverage, and nearly half of Americans would support a government-run health insurance system.
Ending the ACA’s mandate will lead to 13 million fewer people having insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office, meaning fewer Americans paying into the market, as well as driving prices up for those still buying insurance.
In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, 50% of Americans say they would prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress to 39% who support continued GOP leadership. That 11-point gap is the highest for Democrats since 2008 — and a four-point increase since October, when tax reform efforts began in earnest.
It should be noted that recent polls have shown support for tax reform rises when people learn the plan lowers the individual tax rate, doubles the standard deduction and increases the child tax credit. But overall polling shows those messages are not breaking through as Democrats bury Republicans in negative ads about the plan.
In sum: Republicans are on track to lose seats in the 2018 midterm elections. But they know tax reform will fire up their base — and their donors.
However, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may leave his post in 2018 anyway, along with a slew of other Republicans who were keen on passing tax reform. Perhaps, in exchange for passing tax reform, the GOP will be content to take electoral losses.
Today’s question: Do you think Republicans believe passing tax reform is worth electoral losses? Or can they turn around their low polling numbers?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
This week in Trump’s America:
Tax reform: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has returned home for the holidays, as he battles brain cancer, but Republicans are expected to still have the votes to pass their tax legislation this week. In that vein, the Washington Post examined the impact of this being the oldest Senate ever. The House will vote on the final tax plan Monday or Tuesday, followed by the Senate.
On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) flipped to backing the bill after briefly saying Thursday he would oppose it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is still withholding support, but is considered likely to ultimately back the contentious legislation.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also flipped to “yes,” but is taking criticism after IBTimes uncovered a provision in the bill that would personally enrich him, along with President Donald Trump and other people with substantial real estate holdings. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a top Republican, told ABC’s This Week that provision was added to “cobble together the votes we need to get this bill passed.”
Shutdown watch: GOP leaders in the Senate and House have promised their members conflicting items to be included in a year-end deal to keep the government open. Collins has been promised the deal will stabilize the ACA. House conservatives have balked at that. Also in the Senate, eight Democrats must be convinced to support the bill. They are unlikely to back the initial House proposal: fund the government until mid-January and the Pentagon for a year.
Republicans have not been open to including protections for DACA recipients in the year-end spending bill, and Democrats have yet to demand that in exchange for their votes.
CHIP: The federal health insurance program for children expired on Sept. 30. States have used reserves to fund the program until now, but are begging Congress to reauthorize the program before lawmakers leave for the holidays.
Watch on Tuesday: There will be three special elections for state legislative seats on Tuesday. Democrats hope to continue their momentum in those elections by winning in Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi.
“No, I’m not”: Trump’s response to journalists on Sunday when asked whether he was considering firing Robert Mueller — which he can’t legally do. Speculation grew over the weekend that Trump was exploring an avenue for firing the special counsel.
Doug Jones: The Democratic senator-elect from Alabama told CNN on Sunday he believes the public should move on from allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump, arguing those were litigated in the 2016 presidential election. Trump should not resign, Jones said.
Washington and Chicago shootings: Two officers were shot near Seattle over the weekend. The suspect was killed. Eleven people were shot in Chicago this weekend, four fatally. The U.S. has seen eight mass shootings (meaning four or more people injured or killed) in December alone.
Sexual harassment: Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) denied on Friday he sexually harassed a staffer in 2013. Some Democratic senators say they want Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to reverse his decision to resign. That appears very unlikely.
Henry Ford was an avowed racist and anti-Semite. And to combat the rise of jazz, he funded a nationwide effort to make square dancing popular among whites nationwide.
This video and what it reveals blew my mind. You should click or tap below to watch it.