Ross Douthat, like his counterpart David Brooks, supported Marco Rubio in the GOP primaries. Trump clobbered "little Marco" in the primaries and "reform conservatism" died with him. Douthat and Brooks have not been comfortable with Trumpism. This op-ed by Douthat typifies the struggle that "reform conservatives" are having under Trumpism. He tries as hard as he can to defend a deeply flawed Republican tax plan. His first step is to admit that it is not a populist tax plan. It is heavily weighted towards Republican donors and does nothing for struggling Americans who voted for Trump. He counters this by supporting the corporate tax cuts, and the parts of the tax plan that raises taxes on upper class liberals in blue states. Apparently, the plan would be fine if it had included one of the "reform conservative" proposals by Rubio to increase child tax credits for low income families.
I must admit that I do not have the brain power to follow Douthat's argument that minor changes in the tax plan would turn it into an a victory for reform conservatism, whatever that is. It is much easier to understand Trumpism and its architect Steve Bannon. They have no interest "reform conservatism" they want to engineer an autocracy, led by Trump, with Bannon playing the role of chief propagandist who aligns Trumpism with its far right counterparts in Europe and with Republican's in Congress who only care about winning elections orchestrated by Bannon and featuring Donald Trump as its fearless leader.