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Democratic presidential candidates want to roll out ambitious government programs and attack the Republican tax cuts.
Early policy proposals in the 2020 race to take on President Donald Trump show they will try to do both in one swipe.
With the election still about a year and seven months away, the crowded Democratic primary field has mostly gathered donations and set up campaign foundations in early nominating states. But candidates have started to release plans to dramatically expand social programs, ease the tax burden on working-class Americans and overhaul U.S. infrastructure, among other proposals.
Many proposals released this early in the primary process lack the detail that could emerge later in the campaign. Still, some Democratic presidential candidates have specifically targeted provisions in the Republican tax law as they put forward their own programs.
Going after the tax cuts is a politically convenient way to cover at least some of the costs for the sprawling proposals. While tax reform was the top legislative achievement of Trump's first term, it never caught on with voters as Republicans had hoped. Democrats have attacked the tax law as a giveaway to corporations and the rich at the expense of the middle class.
By including changes to the GOP law in their own plans, Trump's rivals target the president on two fronts. They can put forth proposals in areas they say Trump has neglected, while taking steps to scrap a law they have long criticized.
"The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was strikingly unpopular; it was, in fact, less popular than many tax increases in recent years," Vanessa Williamson, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said in an email. "Democratic candidates are making a politically savvy move when they promise to rescind the legislation."
Trump, weighed down by a relatively low approval rating, will have to use a strong economy to his advantage in 2020. During his early campaign rallies, the president has touted the jobs market and gross domestic product growth.
He has cited the GOP tax cuts as one of the reasons for the health of the overall economy.
"We passed massive tax cuts, the biggest in the history of our country," he said at a campaign rally in Michigan last week. Adjusted for inflation, the tax reductions are not actually the biggest ever.
Williamson does not believe Democrats face much risk among voters by running against the tax plan, though she thinks bigger donors — who tend to be more economically conservative — could oppose the messaging. Still, she doubts Trump and congressional Republicans will make the tax cuts a big part of their message next year, especially after they largely abandoned the issue in favor of immigration rhetoric before last year's midterms.
While Republicans gained Senate seats last year in mostly pro-Trump territory, the House GOP lost 40 seats and its majority.