Republicans didn't just approve massive tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations because they believed the policy would be good for the economy; they also saw the regressive tax cuts as a powerful electoral tool. A president's party traditionally does poorly in the first midterm cycle, but GOP leaders saw their tax plan as key to bucking the historical trend.
Those assumptions have been shaken of late. In Pennsylvania's congressional special election, Republicans initially focused heavily on the GOP tax cuts, only to discover that voters in the district -- an area Donald Trump won easily in 2016 -- were wholly unimpressed.
It's against this backdrop that the president apparently wants ... wait for it ... more tax cuts. The New York Times reports:
Amid all the turmoil and uncertainty, with his White House seemingly fraying, his legislative agenda stalled and his electoral base in danger, President Trump these days finds one area of comfort: talking about his tax cuts. He finds it so reassuring, in fact, that he is increasingly talking about doing it all over again. [...]"We're now going for a Phase 2," he told a selected group of supporters at a Boeing factory in St. Louis. He did not describe what would be in such a Phase 2 but said he would team up with Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "It's going to be something very special. Kevin Brady's working on it with me."
Some of this might even be true. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee told Fox Business that Republicans believe "even more can be done" on taxes.
After the GOP plan passed, many of us assumed Republicans would turn their attention to other issues, such as infrastructure or immigration. What we didn't know was that some key GOP leaders would effectively decide, "No, we'll just keep focusing on tax breaks, thank you very much."
I'm reluctant to even guess what "Phase 2" might entail, but it may have something to do with the fact that the newly passed law is filled with glitches, errors, and flaws, and fixing the law's many problems will require congressional action of some kind.
That's not what Trump seemed to be suggesting yesterday, but the president's rhetoric often has no connection to reality.
Postscript: Trump added yesterday that Republicans need to run on tax cuts in the 2018 midterms because they were very "popular." He may want to believe that, but the latest Quinnipiac poll found just 36% of Americans support the new GOP tax law, and other recent national surveys point in a similar direction.