Tax Day became one of 2018's biggest media wars, as the GOP and Democrats battled over the new tax law

  • Tuesday was Tax Day 2018, the last day for taxpayers to file their 2017 tax returns.
  • Republicans spent the day touting the positive effects of their new tax reform law.
  • Democrats, on the other hand, attacked the GOP law as a hand out to corporations and the wealthy.

WASHINGTON – Republicans and Democrats waged an all out war over the new tax law on Tuesday, as Americans met the deadline to file their taxes under the old system for the last time.

The two sides fought back and forth with six-figure ad buys, press conferences, op-eds, and media appearance after media appearance.

GOP touts new tax law changes

On Capitol Hill, CNBC broadcast interviews with Republicans and Democrats live on scene. Republicans in the House also set up studios on Capitol Hill for camera crews behind a “House Republicans” backdrop, which they typically reserve for major events like the president’s annual State of the Union address.

In addition to the TV hits, Republican released a slew of prepared media touting changes from the law, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA.

“On Tuesday, April 17, we Americans file our taxes – for the last time – under the old, broken tax code,” wrote Republican Rep. and chief tax writer Kevin Brady in an op-ed for USA Today. “Yes, for the last time. Goodbye and good riddance to that outdated, monstrosity of a tax code that took too much of your money, sent our American jobs overseas, and kept our economy so slow many workers didn’t see a pay raise for a decade or more.”

President Donald Trump wrote an op-ed of his own that claimed the tax law was driving economic growth.

In a more creative approach, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, released a video in which he shredded the old tax code – literally – page by page while singing “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”

In addition, the conservative Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity launched a $US500,000 ad campaign touting the new tax law because, according to Americans for Prosperity Foundation Senior Director Michael Fields, “all Americans need to know how tax reform is leading to higher pay and lower taxes.”

Democrats fight back

Meanwhile, Democrats claimed the tax law is tilted in favour of corporations and the wealthy.

“We need to be competitive,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Tuesday morning. “But frankly the folks making $US900,000 a year, they did not need a tax break and it’s not going to grow the economy.”

In addition, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the bill on the Senate floor and pointed to nearly $US250 billion that corporations have spent on share buybacks following its passage. Schumer argued the buybacks favour executives and wealthy investors over average workers.

“That statistic gets to the very core of the debate – who benefited from this tax bill?” Schumer said. “Mainly, wealthy CEOs, a lot of foreigners, and the wealthiest people in America. Not the average working person.”

The fighting continued all day on Capitol Hill.

Progressive activist groups, including former Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander’s Let America Vote, staged a rally on the Capitol’s east lawn, where Democratic lawmakers banged their fists and decried the law as inequitable and unjust.

The group Tax March put on the rally that featured top Democrats like Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman and Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

“The American people’s instincts on this bill were exactly right when they knew from the beginning that this thing stunk,” Van Hollen said in reference to fluctuating poll numbers about the tax law’s approval ratings.

Polling released on Monday showed that the tax law remains significantly unpopular. A Gallup survey found that just 39% of Americans supported the law, while 52% disapproved. Additionally, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 27% of people surveyed thought the law was a “good idea,” while 36% said it was a “bad idea.”

The most recent polls align with data showing the American public still holds an overall negative view of the law and believes the changes will mostly benefit wealthier people. While the GOP did get a support bump in February, that boost quickly faded.

In terms of ad space, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled a video advertisement written and directed by Ben Wexler, a producer for sitcoms like “Arrested Development” and “Community.” The ad featured CEOs bragging about the big purchases they would buy following windfall from the tax law.

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