Why can’t the Democrats ever repeal unpopular GOP tax cuts?

Writer David Dayen has an excellent article up over the TAP that examines what the headline calls “The Impossible, Inevitable Survival of the Trump Tax Cuts.”

In the next presidential election [after Trump], I surmised, all Democratic candidates would have to do is to say “I will repeal the Trump tax cuts,” and that could finance most if not all of their ambitions for their first term. There were $3 trillion in unpopular giveaways to the wealthy just waiting to be re-channeled into important priorities on energy and environment, health and family care, housing and transit, and more.

Presumably. In that TNR piece, I also wrote that, “unfortunately, when Democrats get into power they suddenly get cold feet about repealing their predecessor’s bills.” I pointed to the Bush tax cuts, which were similarly loathed by almost all of the Democratic coalition (though not unanimously, as the Trump tax cuts were). On two separate occasions in the Obama administration, Democrats could have let the tax cuts expire and overhauled the tax code, potentially building new programs in the process. They first extended them all and then made them permanent except for the rates at the very top. A vice president by the name of Joe Biden conducted the latter negotiations, and got fleeced by Mitch McConnell, to the indignation of Democrats in the Senate.

Still, it seemed like reviving the post-Trump tax cut period had a better opportunity for success. While the Bush tax cuts had a few benefits for the middle class, the $3 trillion identified in Trump’s plan pretty much all went to the rich. And they ended up panning out even worse than promised. They cost at least $1.9 trillion, not the $1.5 trillion initially claimed. And the promises about the tax cuts paying for themselves and spurring investment were similarly proven untrue. They were highly unpopular and easily and accurately depicted as a sop to the country’s owners, the rich and the powerful.

Sure enough, during the 2020 election cycle, the Democratic presidential candidates targeted the Trump tax cuts. They all put out exciting plans that were, they assured us, fiscally responsible, because the tax cuts would be repealed. Progressive groups that tried to influence the Democratic agenda kept piling on more and more ideas, but the Trump. tax cuts were big enough to bear the weight.

The Democratic Party, however, was not.

Good article. Read it if you get time.

It’s sad that the Democrats have been so spineless on this issue. If they do not inspire fervent support and turnout in 2022 and 2023, it will be, in some key ways, their own fault.

America is in such an existential crisis with the rise of the activist Supreme Court and fascist Right, that I do not feel comfortable saying in 2022 that it’s time to teach them a lesson and sit an election or two out.

The problem with doing that is that I am a white guy who is not poor and does not need to borrow money, go to school, raise kids by myself, etc. Much of the mischief that will emanate from Republicans if they gain control of all three branches of government will not affect me terribly in the beginning.

But the people and issues I care about socially and politically — women, young people, the poor, the extremely aged, the environment — will be in the crosshairs. My sitting out an election, at least for the time being, is a betrayal of those people and issues.

Leave a Reply