Despising taxes is a quintessential American attitude, and one we come by honestly. The American Revolution was fueled in part by a rowdy tax protest known as the Boston Tea Party. Two centuries later, antipathy to high taxes spurred the Reagan Revolution. The Republican Party, recast in Ronald Reagan’s image, still holds a tenet of faith that Americans feel overburdened, overtaxed, and underserved by government. Midway through his presidency, after having lowered tax rates and won re-election in a landslide, Reagan explained it succinctly.
“My friends,” he said, “history is clear: Lower tax rates mean greater freedom, and whenever we lower the tax rates, our nation is better off.”
If true, Americans will soon be much better off: Donald Trump and the 115th Congress just lowered taxes a lot, effective January 1. Although the effects of the Republican tax plan on the U.S. economy will take years to determine, we won’t have to wait long to see how it plays out politically. This is the grand social science experiment of 2018 — and each side thinks it holds the tactical high ground.
“Republicans are going to wear this around their necks,” said Jon Vogel, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It allows us to talk about a very real pocketbook issue for voters.”
Good luck with that approach, countered National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Matt Gorman: “Next year, when paycheck withholdings [decrease] and people start to feel the effects, I dare Nancy Pelosi and Democrats to run on protecting the old tax code and raising taxes on the middle class.”
Republicans should hold the upper hand in this argument. Tens of millions of working-class people are about to see more money in their take-home pay every week, beginning in January or February. It all starts with the new threshold for paying income taxes, which nearly doubles. The “standard” deduction for taxpayers who don’t itemize…