Conservative Groups Seeking Support for Tax Cuts Find It a Hard Sell

“The American people have waited 31 long years to see our broken tax code overhauled,” the leaders of the Koch’s political network insisted in a letter to members of Congress on Monday, urging swift approval of final legislation. They added that the time had come to put “more money in the pockets of American families.”

The problem, as Republicans are learning, is that most Americans do not believe that is what the tax plan will do.

Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist, said that amid all the talk about the need to score an important victory for their party, “it bears mentioning that the ‘win’ is something that is extraordinarily unpopular with 75 percent of the American people.”

The tax proposal seems ill-fitting for the mood on the right, perhaps explaining some of the skepticism. It would add $1 trillion to the deficit, according to the official congressional scorekeeper, contradicting the calls for fiscal austerity that conservatives made for years under President Barack Obama. And its generosity to corporations and the wealthiest Americans is at odds with the soak-the-rich economic populism President Trump preached during his campaign.

But for groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, those in the Koch’s vast network and others closely aligned with the pro-business wing of the Republican Party, the tax bill would be the only tangible legislative achievement after 11 months of an uneasy and, so far, unproductive alliance with a president they fiercely resisted during last year’s election.

The legislation is among the most unpopular public policy initiatives taken up by Congress in recent years, polling shows. A variety of factors is compounding that, Republicans say, from its complexity, to the secrecy and hurriedness of the process to the perception that the benefits will flow largely to a select few.

“We Republicans get into the weeds and talk about technical tax policy and the budget process, and for the average American, that ends up sounding like the adults on the old Charlie Brown cartoon — wah, wah, wah,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, which has been among the groups pushing for tax cuts. “And the Democrats are messaging: ‘This is not fair to the middle class and the poor.’”

Ken Spain, a Republican consultant who works on financial and tax issues, said the legislation has become “a blank canvas” for the opposition to paint and that his…

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