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Those waiting for Trump's 'middle-income tax cut' should give up

Shortly before the 2018 elections, Trump made up a tax-cut idea that didn't exist in reality. Shortly before the 2020 elections, he's doing it again.
Twenty Dollar Bills Are Printed At The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Treasury Secretary's Timothy Geithner's signature can be seen on a new twenty dollar bill, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on July 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. The printing facility of Bureau of Engraving and Printing on 14th Street in Washington was until 1991 the only facility printing Federal Reserve notes until a western facility was opened in Fort Worth, Texas.Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Donald Trump returned to Fox Business yesterday, boasting to Maria Bartiromo about something he intends to do after the election.

"We're giving a middle-income tax cut very soon. As soon as we win, we're giving a middle-income tax cut. It'll be a very substantial middle-income tax cut."

It's tempting to start examining such a promise with a series of substantive questions. How big a tax cut? How does the president intend to pay for it? Who'd benefit and when? How would negotiations with Congress work?

But really, there's no point in pursuing any of these lines of inquiry because Trump is peddling an idea he's obviously made up out of whole cloth -- again.

As regular readers may recall, in late October 2018, Trump declared publicly that he and congressional Republicans were working "around the clock" on a "very major" new tax cut, which would be ready no later than Nov. 1, despite the fact that Congress was effectively out of session until after the midterm elections.

No one in Congress had any idea what the president was talking about, and even White House officials quietly conceded they were "mystified."

Trump didn't care. The plan, which existed only in his imagination, quickly became a major applause line at the president's campaign rallies. Pressed by reporters for details, Trump boasted that he and his team had come up with a way to make his new tax plan "revenue neutral based on certain things."

The Nov. 1 deadline came and went, and the plan the president promised to present never materialized. Trump had repeatedly touted a fictional policy as if it were real, urging voters to cast their ballots as if he were telling them the truth. He wasn't.

And yet, here we are, almost exactly two years later, watching the Republican once again making the same promise, expecting voters to fall for the same trick.

I can appreciate why the incumbent is feeling desperate, scrambling to think of something the public might like. But this half-hearted gambit makes Trump appear pitiful, not popular.

Update: On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the president delivered related remarks in which he again vowed, "We're going again for a big, middle-income tax cut." Again, he really isn't.