The criticism of the recent tax bill has been a fascinating and depressing spectacle, marked by widespread misunderstanding about what the bill actually does and hypocrisy about its effect on the deficit.

The main complaint, in numerous letters and editorials, has been that the tax reductions are going to wealthy individuals and profitable corporations. But a few moments with the Joint Committee on Taxation’s distribution tables reveal that the largest percentage reductions in 2019 are going to the middle class. Tax shares among income categories are little changed, except that the wealthy will pay a slightly larger share under the new bill; hence, the tax structure will become even more progressive.

The reductions could have been larger except for rules that limit the effect on deficits of legislation that passes with fewer than 60 votes. The same rules force an expiration date on the reductions, although they can easily be extended in the future and likely will be.

The bill would have been better, the reductions larger and the deficit effect smaller if there had been spending reductions to match those in taxes. But neither party has much enthusiasm for spending control these days. The irony is that many of those who are complaining about an increase in the deficit didn’t utter a peep while it ballooned during the years when Barack Obama was in office.

The reduction in the corporate rate, one of the highest among developed countries, used to be a bipartisan goal, and rightly so. The lower rate will make U.S. businesses more competitive internationally, increase capital investment, increase hiring and raise wages.

Sen. Susan Collins was right to vote in favor of the bill, and those not committed to class warfare should ignore the hand-wringing and enjoy the reduction in taxes for almost everyone who pays them.

Martin Jones