Conor Lamb's Success in Pennsylvania Proved Americans Aren't Buying the GOP's Tax Law Spin

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other Republican lawmakers have been trying to convince the American people—and themselves—that they can ride enthusiasm for their massive 2017 tax overhaul to victory in the midterms.


This week's special election in Pennsylvania proves that's not going to happen.

Democrat Conor Lamb won the state's 18th congressional district (barring a potential recount), despite the fact that President Donald Trump claimed a 20-point victory there in 2016.

Republicans, including Ryan in a Wednesday press conference, have tried to argue that Lamb basically ran on a Republican platform. While Lamb didn't ally himself with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he ran as a pro-choice, pro-Obamacare, pro-union candidate. He also ran against the GOP tax plan, calling it a "giveaway" to wealthy people.

When asked how Ryan could say Lamb was basically a conservative when he opposed the GOP tax law, the speaker changed the topic.

Republicans know they haven't convinced the voters that the tax law is a good enough reason to keep them around; that's why they stopped talking about it in the last stretch of the campaign for the Pennsylvania seat. This is not much of a surprise since most people are unlikely even to notice the effect of the tax law in their paychecks.

Initially, some lawmakers were honest enough to admit that they needed the tax overhaul to please their donors. It's possible they've since convinced themselves that the voters will reward them for it. 

But before the bill was passed, the American people overwhelmingly agreed that corporations and wealthy people did not pay enough in taxes. There's little chance that in November 2018, majorities will rush to the polls to show their gratitude for Republicans cutting the corporate rate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. The Pennsylvania special election made that clear.

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