Trump gave most Americans a tax cut. But most didn’t notice it. Republicans passed a sweeping tax cut for two thirds of Americans in 2017, saying it wold pay for itself and the American public would thank them for it. Now, as Americans finish filing to the IRS for the first time under the new system, the law has swelled the deficit and surveys show just one fifth of taxpayers believe their taxes have gone down. That’s made it hard for President Trump to leverage the tax cuts as an issue in 2020, when he’s up for re-election and his party will be seeking to retake the House of Representatives. Trump gave most Americans a tax cut. Most didn’t notice.
“The Democrats really outmaneuvered the Republicans by convincing the American people that the main thrust of the tax reform package was to cut taxes for the wealthy,” says Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor who runs the drilling services company Canary LLC. Republicans “failed to fully explain its success to voters.” Trump is going to try again when he goes to Minnesota, a potential swing state in the 2020 election, to promote what Republicans consider their signature legislative achievement. It’s part of a week of events designed to promote the tax law’s effects on the economy as he turns to his next campaign.
The Trump administration and congressinal Republicans sold the tax law as fuel for economic growth and deficit reduction. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave assurances in December 2017 that the measure would not only contain the deficit but be a “revenue-producer.” Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, said last week that the tax cut package had largely already paid for itself, a statement that conflicts with government data. The U.S. budget shortfall grew by 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal 2018, which the Congressional Budget Office has said was partly a consequence of the tax law. Along with additional spending that’s been signed into law, the CBO projects the deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020.