At last, at last, President Donald J Trump has a big win. After the humiliating failure of his attempt to re-re-reform American healthcare, he has now passed his enormous $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through Congress. It is his first significant legislative accomplishment and it is, as he would say, yuge. The Republican splits that emerged over the Obamacare repeal bill threatened to stop his tax plans too. In the end they didn’t.
Trump, keen to stress his own generosity, has called it a ‘an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans’ — he’s even posted a little Christmas Tax Cuts video gif on Twitter — and no doubt, with the flush of the Yuletide spirit, lots of hard-working Americans will believe him. By no means all, though — there remain deep concerns that Trump’s fiscal reform is primarily a measure that benefits the rich, not the ‘hard working Americans’ who voted for Trump last year because they were sick of a political system that seemed only to benefit the elites. The mortgage-interest deduction cap, and the state and local taxes (SALT) cap are highly controversial — they remove significant tax benefits for a lot of the American middle-class.
Fifty-five per cent of Americans, according to one poll, oppose the bill. But, having won his first major legislative victory, Trump will brush such worries aside.
For now, he has managed to unify his party, whose credo is ‘cut taxes’. An interesting aspect of today’s vote is that — unlike the Reagan’s 1986 tax reform, for instance — not a single Democrat voted for the bill. However, all bar 12 Republicans did and now, for the first time since Trump emerged as a serious contender, the Grand Old Party seems to be singing from at least a similar hymn sheet.
Trump has moreover done something truly radical to change the way America works. If, as he promises, the US economy quickly starts to thrive under his fiscal system in 2018, he might have just pulled off the most staggering achievement of his life — an act that could well define his presidency. ‘MAGAnomics’, as it has been called, will stop being dismissed as a joke.
Alternatively, he could have just sufficiently irritated his already angry supporters to ensure that the Republican party is punished in the mid-terms in November next year and his leadership loses the radical quality that made him win last year. Trump’s presidency is a crazy-go-round: each week, it looks completely different. Last week his party had just lost Alabama — making the Republican record 0-3 in statewide elections since he took office. This week he has pulled off the most daringly conservative fiscal measure in American politics since the 1980s. He, and Americans, will just have to hope the supply-side magic still works, and fast.