Now that the GOP’s terrible tax bill is about to become law, it’s obvious what Democrats have to do: steal a page from Republicans and vow to repeal every line of it and replace it with something better.
It’s simple. The tax bill is an almost comically villainous piece of legislation that not only funnels money from the vast majority of Americans directly to the richest but also personally enriches Republican politicians, including Donald Trump. And it’s wildly unpopular. So this shouldn’t be difficult for Democrats. Every single one of them should run in 2018 vowing that, if they get power, they will repeal the tax bill in full and replace it with a bill that substantially hikes taxes on the rich and on corporations and eliminates the sordid loopholes the wealthy use to lower their tax burden. Every single presidential candidate in 2020 should make the same pledge.
This isn’t like the Republican campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare, for two reasons. The first is that Republicans found it impossible to come up with a coherent conservative solution to replace the mechanisms of Obamacare because Obamacare is the coherent, “market-oriented,” conservative solution to universal healthcare. The individual mandate comes from the Heritage Foundation and everything! Opposition to the tax bill comes with no such problems. It’s a terrible conservative bill and there is an easy non-conservative solution to it.
The second problem Republicans had is that the expansion of Medicaid had, like many a good expansion of the welfare state before it, quickly become indispensable to people. The tax bill, though, is striking for what it takes away from all but the richest. By 2027, over 80% of the benefits will go to the top 1% while half of the entire country will get a tax hike, for god’s sake. There won’t be tons of people clamoring to keep that system in place.
Raising taxes on the rich is one of the most reliably popular political propositions out there. It’s also unquestionably what needs to be done if we are ever to have a fairer society. So if a Democratic candidate doesn’t promise both to repeal the Republican tax bill in its entirety and replace it with a bill that actually gives rich people what they deserve, they’re not worth your time.