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“That’s just not true”: the very simple GOP playbook for defending their tax plan

The onslaught is coming. This is what Republicans have ready.

Paul Ryan Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images
Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

Overhauling the nation’s tax code will be a perilous business for Republicans in Congress, who are unveiling their tax overhaul Thursday. Every part of their plan is likely to come under fire from somebody. The GOP, for its part, has already prepared its counteroffensive.

The playbook is pretty straightforward: Deny the most potent attacks are true.

Is this just a tax cut for wealthy people? “No.”

Most of the cuts will go to the wealthy! “That’s just not true.” (A Tax Policy Center analysis of an earlier Republican outline found “those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts.”)

It’s an attack on the middle class! No, it’s “a direct and immediate boost for middle-income Americans who have been struggling to get by.”

On a few subjects, the Republican talking points neglect some important nuances.

For example, on the charge that the House Republican bill will change the popular mortgage interest deduction, the GOP counters with “that’s not so.” However, while it’s true the bill does not change the deduction for existing mortgages, it would introduce a cap at $500,000 for new purchases.

The game plan here is clear: Simply deny the worst attacks on the bill while promising a little something for everybody.