May 22, 2021 - Douglas Myser

Who are republicans fighting for. The battle over President Biden's economic plan may undermine the Republican Party's attempt to rebrand itself as the party of the working class. Trump's presidency, the pandemic relief bills and recent GOP policy plans have all helped Republicans cement gains among working class voters. But Biden's plan to raise taxes to fund blue collar jobs and family benefits is pushing Republicans back into the position of defending corporate tax cuts and opposing popular choices. Over the last decade, the share of Americans with only a high school education who identified as Republicans has risen by more than 10 points, from 34% to 45%, according to NBC New/Wall Street Journal polling. Many of these voters were initially drawn to the GOP over cultural issues, not financial ones. But Trump injected economic populism into the party platform. In the 2020 election, despite losing the presidency, he won noncollege white men by 42 percentage points, and noncollege white women by 27 points. Who are republicans fighting for.

Over the past year, Republicans also joined Democrats in voting for massive Covid relief bills that strengthened the social safety net with cash payments and enhanced unemployment benefits--two things that Republicans rarely vote for. Since Biden took office in January, several GOP Senators have released new policy plans that boost the incomes of working families, and that defy traditional, laissez-faire conservative economics. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah proposed raising the child tax credit in Biden's coronavirus relief bill even higher than Democrats had initially set it at. Who are republicans fighting for.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has released a plan to provide a monthly cash benefit of $350 to families for each child under 6, and $250 a month for children 6-17 years old. And Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a staunch Trump supporter, announced legislation to give a tax credit to anyone making less than the mean hourly wage of $16.50 in the form of a quarterly check from the IRS. "Before Trump the GOP plan was to be hands off on the economy," said Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. "But Trump's victories, and the fact that he mobilized large scale support and grew the blue collar vote for Republicans changed all that."

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