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A public policy blog from AEI
It’s surprising how little commentary there has been about the real politics of the Senate tax bill vote. Yes, of course, many commentators have noted how important it is for Republicans to show that they can govern when they are given a majority. The tax bill will cement their base and energize their donors.
But the truly significant political fallout from the tax bill will be determined by how the economy reacts between now and November 2018, when the 10 Democratic senators from states Trump carried — all of whom voted against the bill — face re-election. Undoubtedly, Chuck Schumer and his whips pressed the Manchins and Heitkamps to create a solid Democratic opposition. How else could the party sustain the brave fiction that this tax cut is a gift to the rich and a disaster for the country?
Still, given the exuberance of the stock market throughout the year that the bill was germinating, this was a very risky vote — not only for Mr. Schumer as leader but especially for the Trump-state Ten, who may now be wondering where their leaders have taken them.
A roaring stock market says much more about what will happen in the economy than the predictions of the economists and media analysts who predicted little if any benefit for economic growth. If the economy charges ahead as investors are anticipating, those experts will still be around in 2019, but the Senate and House Democrats who voted against the bill may be looking for jobs as lobbyists.
Still, one has to admire the ability of the Democratic leaders to keep their Senate members in line. In 2010, the vote for the Affordable Care Act was toxic, but every Democrat stepped up. Many Senate and House Democrats were swept away in the Tea Party election that year, and by 2014 almost half of all Democrats who had voted for Obamacare had retired or lost their seats.
If the stock market is any guide, the tax bill vote may end up, once again, as a suicide pact for those who followed their leaders off the cliff.
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