CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
Nov. 1, 2017
Splits in GOP base make tax plan dead-on-arrival
After much debate and delays, congressional Republicans are scheduled to release their tax bill on Thursday. Elizabeth Sanders, professor of government at Cornell, studies economic regulations and political parties’ alignment. She says that disagreement on tax reform – as in the case of health care reform – is an indicator of how the Republican Party is split between two distant bases and headed toward a significant shift.
“The GOP internal debate over tax reform is more evidence that Trump and his party call on dissimilar bases, suggesting that pressure for party realignment is building.
“As with the Affordable Care Act, Trump first turned over the bill’s construction to party leaders. But their formulaic GOP construction immediately produced an outcry from a large number of organized interests, and from party dissidents concerned about the Trump base among working-class and lower middle-class Americans. That led Trump to object to changes in the 401(k) plan that would increase taxes and discourage saving for retirement among people of modest means. So, back to the drawing boards.
“Of course, many other objections are arising: the House bill will increase the deficit Trump said he was concerned about during the campaign, it is incurring strong opposition in high-tax states that want to keep state and local tax credits, and among charities concerned about losing donations, people in the housing industry concerned about changes in mortgage tax deductions, and Democrats who see repeal of the estate tax as a huge gift to the very rich – and only the very rich are still subject to the estate tax. It is thus tempting to see this as another dead-on-arrival proposal that again reveals deep cleavages in the GOP, and strengthens the Democrats’ hand in the next two elections.”
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