“We got it done,” Mr. Trump told reporters, calling passage of the tax bill “a historic victory for the American people.” He praised Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate and predicted that, together, they would do even more to cut regulation and improve the economy. “Next year we’re going to go on to some amazing things.”
But the president also faces deep challenges in the year ahead: His approval rating in polls of the American public is at historic lows, with a majority of people holding negative views of his presidency. Next year, he will face a congressional majority that will have shrunk to just one vote in the Senate, making it even harder to win approval for the rest of the Republican agenda.
And while his lawyers have suggested that they believe the special counsel’s Russia investigation is winding down, there is evidence that Mr. Trump and his associates will remain under investigation for months if not longer. Two members of Mr. Trump’s campaign have been indicted, and two associates, including his former national security adviser, have pleaded guilty to federal crimes and are cooperating with the special counsel.
The tax victory on Wednesday was a rare moment of legislative success for a president who has struggled to govern in a city that he derided as “a swamp.” He has repeatedly used Twitter, his favorite means of communication, to demean and belittle members of both parties, undermining Republican leaders and generating intense opposition from Democrats.
On Wednesday, he struck a different tone, praising Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, for shepherding the tax bill through the bitterly divided chamber.
The president’s most striking prior legislative misstep was his failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a Republican pledge that he echoed repeatedly on the campaign trail. In May, the president and his Republican allies in the House held what proved to be a premature victory ceremony over the chamber’s vote to replace Obamacare, a measure that did not pass the Senate.
The tax bill that passed on Wednesday includes the elimination of the Obama-era requirement that people buy health insurance, handing the president and Republicans a talking point when they confront constituents who expected full repeal of the health care law.
Polls suggest that most Americans view the rest of the tax overhaul with suspicion. In a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, a majority of people said they viewed the tax plan negatively, with only about 16 percent saying they believe it will lower their taxes. Democrats predicted Wednesday that the political benefits for Mr. Trump would evaporate quickly.
“He hasn’t accomplished any meaningful part of his legislative agenda since the beginning of the year,” said Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado. “As soon as the American people see what’s in the bill, and that it borrows from their children to pay for it, it they will reject it. He promised a middle-class tax cut, but this is a tax cut for the wealthy masquerading as a middle-class tax cut, and not terribly well. The costume is torn.”
Republican lawmakers said they believe the public’s opinions about the tax overhaul would change as more people begin paying lower taxes next year. If they are right, the party could benefit just as lawmakers face voters in the fall.
“I think minds are going to change and I think people are going to change their view on this,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan said on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
For the president, passage of the tax bill could be even more important — depending on how people come to view the legislation. As a candidate, Mr. Trump pitched himself as a champion of working Americans whose interests had been forgotten or ignored by a political establishment that cared little about their fortunes.
If people conclude that the tax bill lowers their taxes, that could help Mr. Trump’s dismal job approval rating. If they decide that rich people and corporations benefit most, the president could anger his own supporters.
“Trumpism, in the end, as a domestic policy, comes down to jobs,” Mr. Gingrich said. “As a baseline of the conversation, he has to produce a better economy for anything else he is doing to make sense.”
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