Mitch McConnell
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The Republicans say they have a tax deal, which I am sure that they do. That doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to pass it, necessarily, but they have something that they think will have a good shot. Unfortunately, they have to contend with this:

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters disapprove of the pending Republican tax plan by a wide margin, 55% to 26%, and 43% say they are less likely to vote for a U.S. Senator or Congressperson who supports the plan.

Key finding: “Only 16% of American voters say the tax plan will reduce their taxes, while 44% say it will increase their taxes and 30% say the tax plan will have little impact.”

And this:

A new Monmouth poll finds President Trump’s job approval at 32% to 56%, the lowest since he’s taken office.

The decline in Trump’s job rating has come much more from women, currently 24% to 68%, than from men, which is 40% to 44%.

Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by 15 percentage points, 51% to 36%.

If the Republicans do manage to pass a tax bill, it won’t be because 16 percent of the public thinks it will benefit them. It won’t be because 55 percent of the people oppose the bill. It won’t be because a president with a 32 percent approval rating is demanding it. And it won’t really be because of that 15 percent deficit the GOP is suffering in the generic congressional ballot. It will be because they have no idea what else to do.

And it will be because the Republican donors will close their checkbooks if they don’t give them a trillion and a half dollars in tax breaks.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) had been describing the flurry of lobbying from special interests seeking to protect favored tax provisions when a reporter asked if donors are happy with the tax-reform proposal.

“My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’ ” Collins replied.

Over the summer, we saw more of these stories:

At least one influential donor has informed congressional Republicans that the “Dallas piggy bank” is closed until he sees major action on health care and taxes.

Texas-based donor Doug Deason has already refused to host a fundraiser for two members of Congress and informed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his checkbook is closed as well.

“Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” Deason said in a pointed message to GOP leaders. “You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There’s no reason you can’t get this done. Get it done and we’ll open it back up.”

An interesting thing about these kinds of donations is that they’re basically investments. The donors give money expecting to get more money in return. This is quite different from the kinds of donations I occasionally give to political candidates. I do it because I have policies that I’d like to see pursued that will be advantageous to the country or to people in need. I don’t expect to ever see my money returned to me by the IRS with a huge interest payment attached. I think most people who give money to political causes are in the same category. Greed has nothing to do with it, and whatever self-interest there might be is broad enough to be of benefit to lots of people, not just the donor or the donor’s business.

The Republicans get a lot of these types of donations, but they’re ultimately beholden only to the folks that cut the large checks. That’s why they feel compelled to pass a huge corporate tax cut even though the people clearly think it’s bad policy and reject it.

So, the GOP will try to ram home this tax bill before Christmas and before Doug Jones can take his seat in the U.S. Senate. They’ll be navigating through some serious crosswinds, though, as every signal they’re getting but one is telling them not to enact this law.

There is no guarantee that they’ll be able to get the unanimity they need to get this done.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at