Senate Democrats shifted a historically challenging map, defined the issues and have the enthusiasm. Each day this week, Quick Takes will focus on the major trends that have shaped the election. Today’s look: the inability of the GOP to settle on a message.  

FIRST UP: REPEAL AND REPLACE. We covered this in depth on Wednesday, but it’s worth mentioning again: Republicans wrote voters checks their policies couldn’t cash for nearly a decade, their agenda collapsed because of it, and suddenly, all of the pressure was on the Republican tax bill.

THE GOP TAX SCAM. The GOP’s massive tax bill was supposed to be their silver bullet for the midterms and they claimed it would put money in the pockets of the middle class and boost small businesses. Here’s what they said about it:

Senator McConnell: “If we can’t sell this to the American people we ought to go into another line of work.”

Steven Law, President of the Senate Leadership Fund: “Over time, this is going to end up being a good issue for us.”

What we said: “Republicans are rushing to jam through higher taxes, eliminate deductions so Americans’ income gets taxed twice, and spike health care costs on the middle class to give kickbacks to their wealthy donors and corporate friends. This corrupt bargain is wildly unpopular with voters of every political persuasion, and Republican Senate candidates will pay the price for voting for it at the ballot box.”

TAX SCAM CRASH AND BURN. For months, Republicans tried to convince voters that their tax plan would give workers a “big raise” while in reality, the plan padded the pockets of big corporations and wealthy special interests–and it didn’t take long for voters to realize it:

Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll: “The Republican tax-cut bill has grown more unpopular in the two months it has taken to usher it through Congress, and few people believe it will provide relief for middle-class families.”

CNN: “Opposition to the bill has grown 10 points since early November, and 55% now oppose it… Two-thirds see the bill as doing more to benefit the wealthy than the middle class… and almost four in 10 (37%) say that if the bill becomes law, their own family will be worse off.”

Los Angeles Times: Voters “disgruntled by the fact that corporations and the wealthy benefited more” from #GOPTaxScam

New York Times: “The tax plan, congressional leaders said, would turbocharge the American economy and provide a much-needed helping hand to working-class families…Today, many Republicans seem to realize that the tax cut has become a political liability, which is why they aren’t talking about it ahead of the November election. Even they realize that it doesn’t do any of what they promised.

Washington Post: “In fact, Americans’ top complaints about the federal tax system are that some corporations and the wealthy “don’t pay their fair share,” according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. Yet the GOP tax bill allowed these two groups to shirk more of the country’s tax burden — something voters correctly identified in a recently leaked internal Republican National Committee poll.”

DON’T TAKE IT FROM US… OR EVEN VOTERS: GOP ADMITS IT “LOST THE MESSAGING BATTLE” ON TAX SCAM. Just last month, Bloomberg reported that internal Republican polls “led the party to a glum conclusion” that Americans believe their grand tax plan, “helps the wealthy instead of average Americans:”

  • By a 2-to-1 margin — 61 percent to 30 percent — respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.
  • “Voters are evenly divided on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” the RNC-commissioned report said. “But, we’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue.”

See more on the GOP tax scam fallout:

Reuters: Corporations may dodge billions in U.S. taxes through new loophole: experts.

CNBC: US firms will now focus on stock buybacks after tax cuts, David Rubenstein says.

Associated Press: Bank execs sing praises of new tax law as windfall looms.

Yahoo: Tax cuts are going to keep being a boon to the shareholder class.

Bloomberg: “Companies Reap Their Tax Windfall”.

New York Times: Bonuses Aside, Tax Law’s Trickle-Down Impact Not Yet Clear.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Comcast quietly fired hundreds in direct sales before Christmas.

Indianapolis Star: AT&T, touting bonuses and investment fueled by tax reform, quietly lays off thousands.

Business Insider: Walmart is abruptly closing 63 Sam’s Club stores and laying off thousands of workers.

USA Today: Kleenex, Huggies maker to cut up to 5,500 jobs, close 10 plants.

THIRD:  JUST LYING ABOUT HEALTH CARE  After spending a year and a half in denial about the fallout from their health care plans, Republicans began trotting out a new tactic at the end of the summer:

“The problem with the Republican health care vision is that it’s hideously unpopular; that’s why the GOP’s Obamacare replacement efforts collapsed. And it’s left Republicans with two choices. They can level with the public about their health care plan and lose the election or they can lie to the public about their health care plan in a bid to keep their jobs. So far, they’ve chosen lying.”

There’s Josh Hawley, who ran an ad touting his support for pre-existing condition coverage *while* he was on the Texas vs United States lawsuit that threatened to end that coverage.

And Rep. Mike Braun, who has been, like Hawley, trying to have it both way on his support for the lawsuit, but then attempted to run away from his support in Tuesday night’s debate.  Braun’s last-second conversion ignored that he also supported the AHCA and so-called skinny repeal plans, neither of which would have maintained the protections patients with pre-existing conditions have now.

And Congresswoman Martha McSally, who, like the others, has run ads trying to get away from her record.  She won’t speak out against the lawsuit and she voted for AHCA and repeal.  The Washington Post’s Health 202 explains:

  • “But McSally has spent most of the campaign on defense when it comes to health care — illustrating what a pickle House Republicans put themselves in by passing the deeply unpopular American Health Care Act, only to see the whole “repeal-and-replace” effort ultimately fail in the Senate.

    “McSally appears to recognize she’s in an unenviable position, telling Sean Hannity that she’s getting her “a– kicked” for voting for the AHCA.”

And even humanoid robot Rick Scott, who previously shredded his credibility by lying about supporting the Medicaid expansion, got in on the act.  Here’s the Orlando Sentinel:

  • Gov. Rick Scott has joined other Republican candidates across the country suddenly embracing a key provision of Obamacare — protecting people with pre-existing conditions from losing access to insurance.
  • The strategy comes in the wake of Republican attempts to remove the protections. Last year the GOP health care bill that failed by a single vote would have repealed them. In addition, a multistate lawsuit that includes Florida seeks to have the pre-existing conditions provision in the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.
  • Scott, one of the earliest critics of the ACA, “essentially started the public opposition” by launching an organization dedicated to stopping its passage, wrote Emma Sandoe, a former staffer at the Department of Health and Human Services, in an email.
  • “He personally ran ads that argued against pre-existing conditions,” Sandoe wrote. “In 2009, his ads said that if we cover pre-existing conditions that premiums would skyrocket – citing the exact same amount premiums were expected to rise without health reform. In 2009, if you asked me to name one person opposed to covering pre-existing conditions, I would have said ‘Rick Scott’ in a heartbeat.”

THE BOTTOM LINE. As Republicans have meandered from repeal and replace to their tax scam to openly lying about their policies with a generation’s worth of weirdness in between (remember calls for President Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize for giving North Korea everything it wanted?), Democrats have remained laser-focused on the issue voters care most about.


AZ-AZ Daily Sun: Gallery: U.S. Senate candidate Krysten Sinema visits Flagstaff

FL-Orlando Weekly: Jimmy Buffett hosting free Florida concert in support of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum

MO-Kansas City Star: Claire McCaskill: My track record of bipartisanship for Missourians

NV-AP: Kimmel, Flowers to headline Las Vegas rally Friday for Rosen

ND-Bismarck Tribune: Booker to campaign with Heitkamp in Mandan

ND-KSFY: Joe Biden to campaign in North Dakota Thursday In final week before election, Sherrod Brown shares the love with rest of Ohio Democratic ticket

PA-State College: With Midterms Looming, Casey Joins Local Democrats for Rally at Penn State

WV-WTAP: Manchin holds luncheon rally in Parkersburg


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