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You own this tax bill, Republicans. Good luck.

Catherine Rampell on

WASHINGTON -- If a tax falls in a forest and no one notices, does it make a sound?

That's no idle existential musing. The answer may determine whether President Trump's tax plan ever becomes non-toxic to the Republican Party.

Right now the public hates, hates, hates the tax bill. It's less popular than any major piece of legislation of the past several decades, less popular even than tax hikes passed under Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Only about a third of Americans view it favorably, based on an average of nine polls this month.

Republicans are hoping that once the public sees their plan in action, though, everyone will be pleasantly surprised.

After all, most Americans don't believe they personally will benefit from the law. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 17 percent expect their taxes to go down.

And while it's true that by 2027, a majority of households will see their tax liabilities increase relative to current law, most people's taxes will indeed fall in the near term. About 80 percent of households will get a tax cut in 2018, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center.

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Many will start receiving those tax cuts as early as February, when lower paycheck withholding kicks in. Just in time for the 2018 midterms!

"Whatever the polling data is that's out there today doesn't recognize just how powerful this bill is going to be to put more money in the pockets of hard-working families," House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said.

There are good reasons to be skeptical of this narrative.

The first is that the tax cuts may be too modest and doled out too incrementally for most Americans to notice their existence.

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