INDIANAPOLIS – The Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars trying to sell the McConnell tax bill to the public, but even in conservative Fort Wayne, voters aren’t buying it, according to a firsthand account from Bloomberg yesterday. Recent polls have shown that only 39% of Americans support the tax law that Republicans are hanging their electoral hopes on. And as Bloomberg’s reporter accompanies a canvasser for the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity reaching out to independent and right-leaning voters in a conservative stronghold to little effect, it’s clear Republicans and their allies have “struggled… to make this a winning campaign issue.”
Landon Porter has barely uttered the words “tax reform” before the door slams in his face. He stands on the front steps of the colonial-style home for a second. …
Porter, 25, is the grass-roots director of the Indiana branch of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative public-advocacy group that’s part of the political network built and partly financed by billionaires Charles and David Koch….Republicans have so far struggled to make the party’s signature achievement this cycle a winning campaign issue. Only 39 percent of respondents viewed the tax law favorably in an April Gallup poll.
For Republicans hoping to stave off Democratic victories in November’s elections, the party will have to do a better job of selling the overhaul to the public. It won’t be easy. Tax policy is notoriously complicated. And if the responses to Porter’s efforts on a recent Saturday are any indication, people are skeptical. “I don’t think my check has changed,” says Linda Meredith, a 52-year-old bartender who was among those visited. Meredith says she supported the tax changes. Then she adds: “They’re going to benefit the rich.”
… On this day, they’re targeting independent and conservative-leaning people. “We’re calling it the American pay raise,” Porter tells Abe Schwab, a self-described independent, as children play noisily in the background… Schwab, an ethics professor, stops him right there. “It’s far more complicated than that,” he says. Schwab and his wife have three kids, and they earned about $100,000 last year. Under the new law, they’ll lose their personal exemptions—and a new, larger standard deduction won’t cover the loss of that benefit, he says.
Schwab, 41, tells Porter that his rough estimates suggest he’ll see a slight tax increase under the law. … “It’s in my narrowly defined self-interest,” he says. “But within the broader context, I don’t think it’s in the public interest.”