TAX REFORM: WHAT WE KNOW. As Republicans make a final effort to push through their tax reform, here’s where things stand and what we know:

  1. REPUBLICANS NOT BEING “FORTHRIGHT WITH THEIR CONSTITUENTS.” Among many key points in today’s Daily 202, James Hohmann observes that “many Republicans politicians are not being forthright with their constituents that some in the middle class are going to see their taxes go up under this bill. They continue to insist on television and elsewhere that everyone is going to benefit, but that’s just not the case.” And read NBC’s First Read for “four big promises” Republicans are “breaking” in their tax plan. These will have profound campaign implications for the GOP in 2018.
  2. GOP DONORS “LIVID” OVER TAX PLAN. The mad dash to push through tax reform was an effort to appease Republican donors who were angry over the lack of legislative wins, despite Republicans controlling all levels of government. But, as the Washington Examiner reports, donors “are closing their wallets, livid with the party for supporting a federal tax overhaul that penalizes their lifestyle and, in their view, abandons core tenets of conservative fiscal policy. In gruff phone calls and angry emails, loyal GOP financiers have declined invitations to fundraisers and refused meetings with prominent Republican officials.”
  3. TAX SCHEME DEALS A BLOW TO MIDDLE-CLASS. This bill would be a disaster for middle-class families. Analyses found that the bill would increase taxes on families earning less than $75,000 a year, while providing breaks to the wealthiest Americans. It would explode the deficit and trigger drastic cuts to Medicare.
  4. THIS IS ANOTHER GOP ELECTION YEAR LOSER. Republicans are pushing this bill despite its deep unpopularity with voters. The other least popular legislation of all time was their toxic health care bill. Want to see how these will play out in the midterms? Watch “MAILBOX,” which we launched earlier this week to show voters how the plan is nothing more than “a costly ‘scam’ on taxpayers.” And take a look at our first ad of the cycle on the GOP’s other marquee failure: health care. Watch “THE PRICE.”

DEMS FIGHTING FOR REAL REFORM. While Republicans work themselves into a tizzy giving tax cuts to their wealthy donors, Democratic Senators are fighting for real tax reform that actually benefits hardworking Americans – and they’re willing to work across the aisle to get it done.

MO – McCaskill: FACT: I want tax reform focused on Missouri’s working families.
“I want tax reform. Many of my Democratic and Republican colleagues want tax reform. This should be an area where we can leave politics at the water’s edge and get something real and meaningful done, because it will help middle-class families in every state in the union —and most definitely help families in Missouri.”

MT – WATCH: Senator Tester explain how he’s urging his Republican colleagues to work across the aisle to achieve meaningful reform.

OH – WATCH: Senator Brown call out the GOP’s hypocrisy in calling for middle-class tax cuts, while actually giving kickbacks to the wealthy.

WI – Urban Milwaukee: Tax Reform Should Put Families First.
“I believe we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer. That’s what I’ve been working for, and that’s why I will be taking a stand against this partisan tax plan this week. Overall, the Senate Republicans’ plan is largely a tax giveaway to the wealthiest few and big corporations, while millions of middle-class families would get a tax hike.

That’s not right and that’s not fair.

Tax reform should put Wisconsin first, so I’ve introduced legislation that makes the tax system simpler and fairer for Wisconsinites.

My Stronger Way Act would reward hard work, raise incomes and help working families keep more of what they earn by strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.”

WV – Metro News: Manchin pushes for bipartisan tax effort.
Manchin said Democrats are serious about passing tax overhaul legislation and are willing to work with Republicans on reforming the tax code, which was last done in 1986. ‘I’ve never seen in my life in anything I’ve been involved — in business or in my political life — a partisan type of approach for fixing a major problem,’ he said.

Manchin added while Republicans could find themselves struggling to reach the 51-vote threshold in order to pass a bill, they could easily pass legislation requiring 60 votes if they include input from Democratic lawmakers.”

GOP FACING PROBLEMS AHEAD OF 2018. Republicans are facing a host of problems ahead of the 2018 midterms: an increasingly unpopular GOP-led Congress and Majority Leader have Republicans “fleeing… team McConnell,” as “the battle for the GOP’s soul” leaves some Republicans worried that they’re becoming “unelectable.”

Politico: Republicans flee from McConnell in 2018 primaries.

  • Heading into the 2018 elections, only one Republican Senate candidate nationwide has pledged unequivocally to back Mitch McConnell as majority leader. Most Republicans facing competitive primaries are hemming and hawing, admiring McConnell’s political savvy and fundraising apparatus — but also looking warily at his sinking approval ratings both with Republicans and the broader electorate.
  • A few Senate candidates are outright spurning him, aligning themselves with former White House strategist Steve Bannon. Both Democrats and Republicans think President Donald Trump has simultaneously elevated McConnell in importance and blamed him for the slow pace of Republican legislating, including the failure to repeal Obamacare.
  • Bannon and his allies instead see evidence of McConnell’s ineffectiveness and unpopularity.
  • McConnell’s approval ratings have tanked over the past year. Democratic and Republican polls have found McConnell deeply unpopular with GOP primary electorates. A September survey from the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC showed McConnell with just a 17 percent approval rating among likely Arizona GOP primary voters in 2018, and a private GOP exit poll in Alabama found just 25 percent of Alabama primary runoff voters said McConnell’s support for Strange made it more likely for them to vote for him, while 55 percent said it made them less likely.

Washington Post: Could the battle for the GOP’s soul leave Republicans unelectable?

  • What’s not up for debate is that, for better or for worse, the ground the GOP rests upon is shifting underneath Republicans’ feet, and the battle is on for which side will ultimately lay claim to it.
  • Primaries, primaries, primaries: Senate Republicans should have a lot of pickup opportunities in next year’s midterm elections, when 10 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016. But Republicans first have to get through competitive primaries in nearly every state, including for seats the GOP already holds. Fighting each other for seats was not in the establishment’s game plan.
  • Swing groups are souring on the president: Trump’s approval rating at this point in his presidency is lower than any president in the history of polling. And a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll finds majorities in crucial swing groups — white women with college degrees, moderates and independents — don’t like him
  • Some Republicans up for reelection may have to ditch Trump to keep their jobs. The opposite happened to Flake. He quit his job to ditch Trump.  “I will not be complicit,” Flake said in a shocking retirement announcement on the Senate floor last month.
  • The end of Flake’s own career is a microcosm of the Republican Party’s breakup: Republicans are in a battle for the soul of their party. And it’s not clear (yet) which side will ultimately claim it.
  • But as Flake voiced this week, plenty of establishment Republicans are terrified that Trump could be winning.

Speaking of…
AHEAD OF TOUGH PRIMARIES, AZ, NV, IN GOP SEN “EMBRACE” TRUMP. In Arizona, Nevada, and Indiana, Republican candidates are rushing to embrace Trump in an effort to survive nasty primaries.

AZ – Politico: McSally embraces Trump ahead of Arizona Senate run. “Rep. Martha McSally wants to make one thing clear before she launches an Arizona Senate campaign: She’s a big fan of President Donald Trump.

McSally’s shift to outspoken defense of Trump has been a dramatic one, as she prepares to switch from running for reelection in a House district Hillary Clinton won to competing in a Senate GOP primary with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, an arch-conservative who has aligned herself with former White House strategist Steve Bannon.”

NV – KLAS: Facing Tough Primary, Heller Aligning Himself with Trump.

IN – Seymour Tribune: Candidates “Jockeying to be Trumpier than the Next Guy.” The field “is all campaigning to be the closest in the voters’ minds with Donald Trump. All of the candidates are jockeying to be Trumpier than the next guy in hopes of being the Trumpiest choice for the GOP field.

Philosophical differences, qualms about character and any other doubts have been jettisoned. Now it’s all about being as much in Trump’s quarter as possible.”

GOP’S “NASTIEST PRIMARY” UPDATE. It looks as if there’s a new entrant into “the GOP’s nastiest primary” with former State Rep. Mike Braun “upending a Senate primary fight in Indiana that until now has been defined by the sparring between Republican Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita.” Braun has characterized the sparring between Messer and Rokita as “a major asset” to his campaign, but “Republicans are already signaling that he will not continue to get a free pass.”

NICHOLSON’S CONSULTING CAREER A MYSTERY. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Kevin Nicholson, who has touted his consulting career as preparation for his bid for U.S. Senate, failed to report who his clients were, which opens Nicholson up to a host of conflict of interest problems.

AZ – USA Today: Sinema on Senate Run: “It’s about putting people ahead of party”
IN – Indiana Statehouse Newsroom: Sen. Donnelly hopes law can help prevent veteran suicides
MO – Joplin Globe: Sen. McCaskill stresses bipartisan work in Webb City town hall
ND – Forum News Service: Heitkamp unveils bill to support pension plans
OH – Fremont News-Messenger: Brown joins call for quick action on Asian carp
(MORE) OH – WKSU: Sen. Brown Presses GOP Leaders on Why Renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program Has Stalled
(MORE) OH – WTOL: Sen. Sherrod Brown introduces bill to protect American jobs from foreign investments
WI – The Pride: Tammy Baldwin Introduces Legislation Increasing Services for LGBTQ+ Elders
WV – Metro News: Manchin pushes for bipartisan tax effort


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