GOP strategist fears 'political disaster' in November


Republicans are scrambling as the midterms approach.

For Republicans in 2018, it's not the economy, stupid.

In the wake of its stunningly inept special election performance in Ohio on Tuesday, where the party's candidate is clinging to a 1,500-vote lead in a district Republicans have controlled for eight decades, it's clear the GOP could be facing a disaster in November.

That's why more Republicans candidates are scrambling for a message, jettisoning the party's tax bill passed in December, and focusing instead on fear.

"As Republicans enter the final month of the primary season, they’re looking ahead to a general-election strategy of embracing anxiety as a tool to motivate voters," the Associated Press reports.

The GOP’s historic tax giveaway to billionaires and corporations, originally designed to be the Republican Party’s savior for the midterm cycle, has morphed into an electoral albatross. In part, that's because the tax law remains wildly unpopular with voters who see right through the Republican spin.

That means the GOP is entering the final months of the campaign season unable, or unwilling, to tout economic issues.

“This is political malpractice,” Republican pollster Frank Luntz tells the AP. "You can’t find me a time in modern times when the economy was this strong and the governing party was headed toward a potential political disaster like this."

"We wish it got the pitch forks out and it doesn’t," GOP ad maker Will Ritter said of the Republican tax cuts.

Will touting fear, especially immigration-based fear, work for Republicans at the ballot box? It didn’t work in the governor’s race in Virginia last November. And it didn’t work in the March special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.

As for taxes, Trump himself is making matters worse for the GOP.

He enjoys the largest megaphone in the Republican Party, but he doesn’t seem interested in the tax cut issue and won’t commit to any sort of extended campaign to try to promote the doomed legislation.

Earlier this year, Trump traveled to West Virginia for what was billed as a “Roundtable Discussion on Tax Reform.” But he quickly ditched his prepared remarks about taxes, called them “boring,” and turned the event into ugly political rally.

Additionally, Trump’s year of nonstop scandals (Russia, Stormy Daniels etc.) has made it nearly impossible for the GOP to launch any sustained effort to talk up taxes.

Meanwhile, the bad news surrounding the tax bill continues to pour in.

The federal deficit rose 20 percent in the first 10 months of the 2018 fiscal year, thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and spending plan, the Hill reported on Wednesday.

What's going on? While federal spending soared, tax revenues collected from corporations plummeted as Trump’s giveaway took effect at the beginning of the year.

No wonder Republicans don't want to talk about their tax cuts this election cycle.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.