Republicans Threaten to Erase Tax Hikes When They're Back in Power. Who Cares?

Tax hikes on corporations is extremely popular. That’s why they’re central to the Biden administration’s $2 billion infrastructure bill. Increasing taxes for major companies significantly increases the legislation’s popularity—nine full points, according to a Quinnipiac poll taken last month.

Republicans, as you might know, hate tax hikes on corporations. They hate any taxes on corporations, really. Back in 2017, Donald Trump and the GOP passed the largest corporate tax cut in American history. Raising corporate taxes is a total nonstarter for them. Republicans have offered up a weak counterproposal threatened to withhold support. But now their threats are getting serious.

Yes, you read that correctly. Republicans are threatening to cut whatever corporate taxes the Biden administration raises if and when they regain power. It’s an interesting strategy from a party with almost zero purchase here. Democrats don’t need GOP support to pass the infrastructure bill, and if the tax hikes stay put, they won’t get any.

It’s hard to get what you want when you don’t have any leverage. Republicans have to do something to show their corporate benefactors and base they’re fighting back against Biden’s big spending. But that doesn’t make the posturing any less absurd. Cutting corporate taxes is fundamental to Republican politics. It’s a governing principle. If they win back power, they’re going to do it no matter what. Are Republicans implying here that if Democrats compromise with them, they’ll take it easy on the tax cuts when they win back the House or Senate? The thought is almost too stupid to behold.

Dumber still is what exactly Republicans are fighting over. Trump’s tax cuts were immensely, historically unpopular. It’s one of the many (many) bad policies Democrats campaigned against to win huge gains in the 2018 midterms. It got so bad that Trump tried rebranding the law almost two years after it was passed. Staking your political flag to your unpopular former president’s extremely unpopular landmark legislation seems dumb. If Republicans feel like dying on that hill, Democrats should let them.

That’s ultimately the good news here, if there is any—Dems are hip to the game. Sure, there are still plenty of moderates (and certain chief executives) who would love kowtowing to bogus Republican compromises. It sure seems like the jig is up. The warnings that used to hypnotize Democrats into inaction no longer apply. The GOP will try swinging this in their favor, propping up those unpopular tax cuts as an awesome way to own the libs. But wouldn’t you know it, Dems are wise to that too.