Democrats hope to use GOP tax bill to stake their ground ahead of 2018 midterms

ATLANTA — A Democratic congressional candidate outside Philadelphia calls the Republican tax overhaul a “cynical bill” that will redistribute wealth upward.

One of her counterparts in California dismisses estimates of tax savings for most U.S. households and says the legislation is “just putting money in the pocket of the wealthy.” And in Kansas, a Democratic candidate for governor says it’s “a recipe for disaster” that signals inevitable cuts to popular programs like Social Security and Medicare.

While Republicans celebrate a massive tax overhaul they say will goose the economy and increase workers’ take-home pay up and down the income ladder, Democrats are aiming to turn the tax law into a cudgel in next year’s fight to retake control of Congress and to dent GOP advantages in statehouses.

Democrats hope to use the tax plan, passed without a single Democratic vote, to stake their ground as the party of middle-class and working-class America. They hope Republican efforts to gut the 2010 health care law and President Donald Trump’s unpopularity will help that cause.

“It’s all a consistent message: This is not what you were promised,” says Chrissy Houlahan, a Democratic candidate in the suburban Philadelphia district of Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, who voted for the tax plan. He is one of Democrats’ top GOP targets as they try to flip the 24 GOP-held seats necessary for a House majority.

Republicans acknowledge dismal polling for their approach but count on a turnaround in public opinion as tax cuts for many take effect.

A Wall-Street Journal/NBC News poll taken Dec. 13-15 found just 17 percent of respondents expect to pay less in taxes, while a third thought they’d pay more. Two-thirds of those polled said corporations would get breaks; more than half said rich people would get cuts.

Indeed, the overhaul slashes the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent, and adds generous deductions for certain types of businesses. Yet the plan also lowers individual rates and…

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