A national consensus in favor of tax hikes?

When President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations, some pundits and politicians accused him of abandoning the center of the political debate.

The on-line journal Politico suggested that the plan had sparked “middle of the road rage.”

In that article, they quote Democratic centrist Mark Penn saying, “President Obama is basically tearing apart his own coalition.”

New York Times columnist David Brooks jabbed the President for teasing moderates by sounding like one of them, and then tacking to the left.

House Speaker John Boehner went several steps farther, accusing Mr. Obama of declaring “class warfare.”

But a new poll out today from Gallup suggests that the White House may be navigating closer to the center-line than his critics like to think.

The poll found that a whopping 70% of Americans favor boosting taxes and eliminating loopholes for corporations, while 66% support income tax hikes for individuals and families earning more than $200,000 a year.

Gallup also found significant support for the White House plan among GOP voters:

“Slightly more than half of rank-and-file Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favor the idea of eliminating certain corporate tax deductions as a way to pay for a jobs creation bill,” the pollster reported.

“Forty-one percent of Republicans favor raising taxes on higher-income Americans. Democrats strongly favor both proposals for paying for the cost of the jobs bill.”

Given the President’s low poll numbers, Gallup’s survey also found a remarkable level of support for  his overall economic proposals, ranging from taxes to deficit reduction to jobs.

“This is the second Gallup survey conducted in the last two weeks showing that the American public broadly supports Obama’s jobs plan,” the pollster said, in a statement.

“A majority of Americans interviewed this past weekend believe the plan would help at least a little to create jobs and improve the economy.”

So if 4-out-of-10 Republicans want higher taxes on the wealthy and more than half of GOP voters agree that corporate tax loopholes should be eliminated, is it fair to say that Obama has tacked away from the middle?

As always, your comments welcome.

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49 Comments on “A national consensus in favor of tax hikes?”

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  1. PNElba says:

    Let me get this right. If I’m a middle class wage earner and my choices are to have medicare/social security severely cut or increase taxes on corporations/rich, which will I choose? Hmmmm, I need to think about this one.

  2. oa says:

    A good general rule: If you want to be an idiot, believe Politico. And Mark Penn.

  3. Obama has always been closer to the center than the Republican right but even he is right of center. It is only when viewed from the extreme right that he looks like he’s crossed the line to the left. It’s a parallax problem with political vision.

  4. Phil says:

    It’s the old Robin Hood story: take from the rich (except me, of course), and give to the poor. That’s why it’s a political, not an economic proposal. If I remember correctly, Robin Hood and his merry men threw great parties. And the Democrats and Barack wll too if they can win the next election with this demagogery.

  5. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I don’t want the rich to “pay their fair share”. I want them to PAY MORE.

  6. Bob S says:

    What makes me very suspicious about O’Bama is that he had two years of absolute control of government to pass these tax reforms and did nothing. Now that he knows he has no chance to pass them he can’t wait to get it done. Bottom line is he has opened his 2012 campaign. He is in very deep trouble and class warfare is one tactic that sometimes works.

  7. Actually, Phil, it’s an old American story: Require those who make more to pay more. But, remember, they only pay more, under a progressive tax code, on their top earnings. Those who earn half a million a year pay the same rate on the first $100,000 as those who make only $100,000. It’s fair. If you make $24,000 a year, your rate should be low, because after paying for necessities, little is left. If you make $200,000 a year, your rate is low on the first $24,000, higher (not high these days, but higher) on the last $24,000. There’s still lots of incentive to make more money, but also a recognition that those who benefit greatly from their circumstances have the ability, and the responsibility, to give back. That way, our society can continue to offer the sorts of opportunities that enriched the rich in the first place.

  8. hermit thrush says:

    elizabeth warren, hopefully the next senator from the great state of massachusetts:

    I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.” No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea — God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

  9. Peter Hahn says:

    Also there is a real thing called class warfare – actual warfare where people get killed. (see French revolution, Russian revolution, several Chinese great leap forewords etc.). Progressive income tax is not warfare, and it is not income re-distribution.

  10. JDM says:

    When Obama said in a speech that polls show 80% of Americans are in favor of raising taxes, he was sighting a poll in which 20% responded that they were not in favor of taxes, and he inferred the rest.

    The wording of the Gallup poll is not mentioned above, and I’m not certain that Gallup asked “do you favor raising taxes”, rather, it is the inferred inverse of something like “are you opposed to raising taxes” and 60% responded “yes”.

    Mark Twain had it right when it comes to statisticians.

    I am for everyone paying their fair share. 17% across the board, period.

    I am for higher tax revenue. Lower tax rates and more tax payers.

  11. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Bob S.,

    Obama NEVER had complete control of gov’t as the Senate requires a 60 vote majority with regard to this type of legislation. This requirement made irrelevant the very slim actual majority the Democrats had in that body. To your point of waiting until the campaign to push these reforms, keep in mind he has attempted to do this previous but caved for the sake of extended unemployment benefits and other things in order to garner support in the House as by then that body was in the control of the Republicans.

    Having said that, I share your frustration at what was a land slide election in favor of Democratic president with few actual Democratic policies having been implemented in nearly the three years since.

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    JDM – what you are saying is that you are in favor of the poor paying more taxes, and the rich paying fewer taxes.

  13. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    JDM, Mark Twain was a great writer, humorist, and humanitarian. He was a terrible economist, businessman and accountant. Read about his bankruptcies.

  14. Mervel says:

    I think people are tired of the formula answers the talking points that all sound the same, I know I am. We have a deficit and we have high unemployment some, paying more taxes has to be part of the solution. If you look at the austerity programs that we often push on other countries having these problems they often include paying more taxes. I think one of the big loopholes is capital gains. Everything in balance, we don’t have to punish people with capital gains tax, but having them pay the same rate on capital gains as they pay on income makes some sense.

  15. Ultimately, people need to remember that no one creates jobs just because they have more money. People create jobs in response to a perceived unmet demand.

  16. scratchy says:

    Obama’s plan probably won’t go far enough. The top tax rate for very high incomes should, in my view, be at least 50%. Obama should alo propose a carbon tax.

  17. newt says:

    Thanks for the Warren quote, H.T. Can’t we just just skip the Senate thing and run her for POTUS instead of Mr. Better Late Than Never Obama?
    I guess not (sigh).

  18. Dave says:

    “I think people are tired of the formula answers the talking points that all sound the same, I know I am.”

    This is why what Elizabeth Warren has been saying is getting so many people pumped up. She is putting words and ideas to what a majority of Americans have been thinking, and she is doing it matter of factly and without Washington lingo and talking points (although I wouldn’t be surprised if what she is saying is eventually co-opted by the talking point writers…)

    The way she simply, and clearly explains that people who succeed in this country do so with the help of all of us is something that really resonates.

    Obama is a great orator, no doubt about that. But I am not sure he has been successful at presenting ideas in a way that can sway average, middle of the road, undecided or misinformed people.

    Maybe it is the difference between a good speech and a good explanation.

  19. Anon says:

    Assuming, of course, that there is no Govt waste and Fraud.

  20. newt says:

    Right now Govt. Waste and Fraud still has a long, long way to go before it catches up with Wall St. and Too Big to Fail Bank waste and fraud.

  21. Walker says:

    A lot of government waste and fraud happens when the government contracts out what should be government work to the private sector: http://www.truth-out.org/guess-what-it-cheaper-use-federal-government-employees-contractor-employees/1315928973

  22. myown says:

    The only people against raising tax rates for the wealthy are Republicans who can’t show a shred of evidence that low or lower taxes are good for the economy. It is a non-factual belief they recite over and over again like a religious mantra. Even Wall Street types understand the danger of the huge disparity in wealth and income that has been the result of the Bush tax cuts.


    And that businesses are not over taxed or over regulated – another senseless chant from every Republican presidential candidate.


  23. Walker says:

    And the whole idea that businesses aren’t hiring because of taxes or regulations or “uncertainty” is garbage. Businesses aren’t hiring because they can’t move their goods, and they can’t move their goods because people are broke. This is the classic situation in which government spending works: government makes money available to build and repair infrastructure, companies hire workers to fill the newly created jobs, the workers spend their paychecks, companies sell products to fulfill the new demand, the economy revs up. This cycle could already have worked if Obama’s first stimulus had been bigger.

    If, on the other hand, you give or continue tax breaks for the wealthy, they don’t spend the money on consumer goods, they invest it in companies that are already sitting on piles of cash; having nothing better to do with it, they pay their CEOs even more enormous salaries.

    The idea that the wealthy are “job creators” is bogus. Businesses can be job creators, but only if there is a healthy amount of money in the hands of those who will spend it on consumer goods and services.

  24. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Good discussion in this thread. Along the lines of what Walker has pointed out, I’d like to point out a couple other misnomers perpetuated by certain political parties. 1) That American companies are overly regulated to the point that it hurts business creation. 2) That government does not create long -term sustainable jobs. The two below snippets are from this week’s addition of The Week Magazine. Note the sources of these two articles:

    World Bank says U.S. business faces light regulatory burden
    Businesses in the U.S. face the fifth-lightest regulatory burden among those in 183 nations, according to the World Bank. Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.K. tied for having the lightest regulations. China placed 79th, Brazil 127th, and India 134th.

    The world’s largest employers
    Seven of the world’s 10 biggest employers are run by governments. The U.S. Defense Department leads the pack, with 3.2 million employees, followed by the Chinese Army, with 2.3 million. Also in the top 10: China National Petroleum Corp. and Britain’s National Health Service.
    The Economist

  25. Walker says:

    JDM wrote: “When Obama said in a speech that polls show 80% of Americans are in favor of raising taxes, he was sighting a poll in which 20% responded that they were not in favor of taxes, and he inferred the rest.”

    I’m sorry JDM, you’re just wrong. Here is the question, as asked:

    “Let me you read you a number of other things that might be cut or eliminated as a way to reduce the current federal budget deficit. For each one, please tell me if you would find this totally acceptable, mostly acceptable, mostly unacceptable, or totally unacceptable as a way to help reduce the federal deficit.

    Placing a surtax on federal income taxes for people earning over one million dollars a year.”

    The responses were: Totally acceptable – 55%, Mostly acceptable – 26%.

    That totals 81%. No other budget cutting approach came close.

    Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey, p. 16 at http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_Politics/___Politics_Today_Stories_Teases/2-24-28-11.pdf

    (I had some trouble loading the link– it takes a while because it’s a 20 page pdf)

    As one observer noted, you can search in vain in the Wall Street Journal to find this result, even though they commissioned the poll. For an analysis, see http://policygrinder.com/jimmagruder/us-news/unspeakable-81-of-americans-would-tax-rich-to-cut-deficit/

  26. JDM says:

    Peter Hahn:

    If you make $1 you pay 17cents. If you make $100mil you pay $17mil.

    The rich pay more than the poor in taxes in this scenario, and everyone participates.

    khl: I agree that Mark Twain wasn’t a brilliant statistician. He was a brilliant writer who correctly wrote that statisticians are worse than the worst kind of liars. Well written, Mr. Twain.

  27. Hillary in 012 says:

    Walker: Your opinions are based on how you interpret facts. Here are some facts then my opinion. In January 09 the average daily spending per person for goods and services was $62. It is currently up to $69. It pretty much has been level over the last 2 and a half years. To me this indicates that the people who were hired with stimulus money did not spend it! They put their money in savings or paid off debts! My opinion as to why companies are sitting on cash and people aren’t buying goods is they have no confidence in the direction the economy is headed. People are afraid to spend knowing what might happen and companies are not willing to invest. I personally know people who were hired with stimulus money and they did not spend it like you are suggesting.

  28. JDM says:

    Walker: “Placing a surtax on federal income taxes ”

    Thank you for amplifying my point. Why not just ask, “do you favor raising taxes, yes or no”?

    I will accept Walker’s comments to make the following observations:

    55% find the “surtax” thing “totally acceptable” and 26% find the “surtax” thing “mostly acceptable”.

    What gets reported?

    80% of people in favor of raising taxes.

    Liars, damn liars, and statisticians.

  29. Rich says:

    I don’t understand why the republicans are so adamant about not raising taxes on th wealthy. The wealthy have not done much of a job creating jobs since Obama became president and the economy is operating under the same rules as it has been since Bush gave the wealthy the big tax breaks. They haven’t created jobs just increased their own wealth, let them pay a little more, they certainly are the ones who have benefited for the past 10 yrs.

  30. Walker says:

    JDM, you figure that the Wall Street Journal is asking questions purposely slanted to favor taxing the rich?

    The questions were phrased in a pretty standard way to give respondents a range of agreement. 55% found placing a surtax on federal income taxes for people earning over one million dollars a year “totally acceptable” and another 26% found it “mostly acceptable.” You think its a complete distortion to say that 81% of the respondents found raising taxes on the rich acceptable?

    And Hillary, trust me, if businesses had substantial unfilled orders for the goods they sell, they would hire. And if people hired with stimulus money paid off debt rather than spending, that just indicates to me that the stimulus wasn’t big enough. You can’t tell me that someone who had lost their job and then got a new job based on stimulus money promptly squirreled it all away– a lot of these folks are living pay check to pay check. Your friends were obviously among the better off recipients of stimulus money.

  31. Hillary in 012 says:

    Rich: Why do you focus on the Republicans? Yesterday before Congree Bill Clinton said, “This is not a time to be raising taxes”.

    Walkler: The numbers speak for themself! I recall reports during that time saying the same thing, people are saving and paying down bills! Pump more money in and…….people would save more and pay down more. The number don’t lie!!

  32. Walker says:

    Hillary, of course the numbers speak for themself, but what do they say? You wrote “In January 09 the average daily spending per person for goods and services was $62. It is currently up to $69.” So that proves conclusively that people who received stimulus funds used them entirely to pay debts? Not to me it doesn’t. And it doesn’t to a lot of economists, for whatever that’s worth.

  33. myown says:

    The CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Leo Apothekur, was sacked today. He was at HP for less than one year but is getting a severance package worth $35 million. Although HP has cut 30,000 jobs in the past few years, Republican candidates tell us we should not raise taxes on the wealthy because they are “job creators”. Yeah right.

  34. Hillary in 012 says:

    Walker: I said the numbers have been relatively flat. Now that you are pushing the point I will prove you wrong! First these numbers are seasonal. You would only expect the holidays to be higher.
    In January of 2009 the amount was $62. In January of 2011 it was $56. Yes the numbers show a decrease of $6 for the same time of the year!

  35. Hillary in 012 says:

    Walker: My friends were not some of the”better off recipients” of stimulus money. You seem to have the idea that everyone who received stimulus money spent every dime of it. Most people I know purchased only the essientials. Any money left over went to pay down debt or in savings. They did not “prime the pump” by spending money on electronic devices, ect. They know when the stimulus was gone, they most likely would be out of work.

  36. Walker says:

    Hillary, the people who “had any money left over” WERE the better off recipients. You’re forgetting there were and are plenty of people out there who HAVE no money left over at the end of the month.

    Anyway, I’m not saying that the stimulus money made everything hunky dory– the current jobs picture is all the proof anyone needs that the stimulus wasn’t enough to turn the economy around. But most economists agree that if there had been no stimulus, things would be far worse now. Paul Krugman argued at the time that the stimulus needed to be much larger to be effective.

    Anyway, arguing economics is pretty pointless– you listen to your guys, I listen to mine. People are still arguing about how we got out of the great depression after all.


  37. Mervel says:

    Right, it is true that each side has respected economists who agree with them.

    I do think that there agreement among the population that the really really rich should pay more taxes. Our country has had a winner take all situation for some time with a subset of people making just unbelievable amounts of money. In the North Country I think we just don’t realize it because outside of the seasonal residents we just don’t see it. I am not talking about the doctor who makes 300k per year or the lawyer who might make even more, which is very good money up here. But know there are people who make hundreds of millions every YEAR. They should pay more taxes.

    I guess they are too concerned about someone building a wind turbine though that might screw up there little vacation mansion.

  38. Hillary in 012 says:

    Walker: You are correct that it is pointless to argue economics. You seem like a very intelligent individual. I’ve read some of Paul Krugman’s work and I’d place him in the same boat as Rush Limbauh and Glenn Beck. I found his piece after 9/11 to be very disturbing. These people tend to polarize our thinking. Regardless of your political party everyone stands to loose a great deal if the president does not succeed with jobs/the economy. At what price do I want to pay to see my son remain unemployed? To see my retirement investments dwindle to nothing? I guess the problems are obvious but the solutions are not.

  39. myown says:

    It is not pointless to discuss economics. Yes there are left and right economists. However, the past 30 years have repudiated the Right’s supply-side and trickle-down theories. And the past 10 years have repudiated the Right’s tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts theory.

    And the past 3 years have proven economists like Krugman correct when they were arguing for a much bigger stimulus package after the financial crash in 2008.

  40. Walker says:

    Myown, I wish you were right that there was something to be gained by arguing economics with conservatives, but that has not been my experience. Conservatives don’t see 1937 in the U.S., or recent months in Europe for that matter, as proof that governmental austerity in the midst of a recession makes a bad situation far worse, nor do they believe that FDR’s New Deal was working prior to 1937, nor do they believe that economically, WW II was essentially a huge economic stimulus program. And they still don’t see that where we are today is the result of thirty years of Republican tax cuts and business deregulation.

    And they can compare Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman to Glenn Beck, apparently with a straight face. QED

  41. myown says:

    I sympathize with you Walker. Unfortunately, too many conservatives don’t like the inconvenience of facts or reality. They have their dogma and are going to stick to it all the way to the bottom.

  42. Hillary in 012 says:

    For a minute there I thought i was reading something from Krugman. I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion.

  43. Walker says:

    Spoken like a true “Conservative!” In your gut, you just know you’re right!

  44. oa says:

    Thanks for sharing, Trollary in 012.

  45. myown says:

    Hillary in 012 – thanks for the comparison to Krugman, a Nobel Prize economist who argues with facts and figures.

    My facts are middle class wages, pensions, financial security, percentage of US income, etc. have all declined and the economy has steadily gone downhill, deficits increased and the disparity between rich and poor in the US increased dramatically under Republican policies of tax cuts, which benefitted primarily the rich and dumb de-regulation. We did not have the money to pay for the tax cuts. We had to borrow money from foreigners so the rich could have tax cuts which were supposed to create jobs and improve the economy. Republican economic fantasies have failed miserably.

    Now it is time to end the Great Republican Experiment and begin increasing taxes on the wealthy back to where they were even under Reagan. It is time to pay back those tax cuts, not with cuts to Social Security or Medicare, but with tax increases on the wealthy.

  46. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    We are in the 9th day of protests on Wall Street. 80 people have been arrested. Why has there been no coverage on NPR?

  47. tootightmike says:

    Oh we don’t HAVE protests in this country. We just lie back and watch ’em do it to us on TV.

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