Republicans, including Sen. Deb Fischer, tout tax cuts, but public remains skeptical

Republicans, including Sen. Deb Fischer, tout tax cuts, but public remains skeptical
Sen. Deb Fischer

WASHINGTON — Republicans marked tax-filing day by promoting their overhaul of the tax code to a public that remains skeptical of the measure.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., joined several colleagues at a Capitol Hill press conference highlighting the benefits to the many middle-class Americans seeing a tax cut, as well as the effects on businesses that are offering bonuses and raises as a result.

“As I travel the state, I hear from a number of companies in the state of Nebraska where they’re making investments,” Fischer said.

She cited Heartland Bank, Nelnet and Cox Communications as companies giving bonuses to their workers.

Fischer also cited the tax legislation’s inclusion of her proposal for a voluntary pilot program that gives tax breaks to businesses who offer paid family leave to their employees. It’s a program aimed in particular at lower-wage, nonsalaried workers.

Despite their best efforts, Republicans have faced an uphill battle selling their tax package to the public.

In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 27 percent of Americans call it a good idea and 36 percent a bad idea, with the balance offering no opinion.

The legislation received no support from Democrats, who have criticized it as delivering too much of its benefits to wealthy Americans and to corporate interests, while increasing the federal budget deficit and depleting resources available for government programs.

Democrats say those one-time bonuses are overshadowed by the amount that companies are funneling back to shareholders through stock buy-backs and dividends.

And they say any tax relief for middle-class families will be swallowed up by health insurance premiums that will go higher as a result of the tax package’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Then there’s the fact that, in contrast to the corporate tax cuts, the individual cuts are not permanent.

On that point, Republicans at Tuesday’s press conference said they would like to make the individual cuts permanent and said it’s obvious that Congress will eventually act to do so.

But they accused Democrats of playing games by not joining them to do so quickly. “This has become nothing more than a political football that goes back and forth and families get lost in that,” Fischer said.