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Poll Shows Strong Support for Upper Income Tax Hikes

April 7, 2009

Despite the predictable cries of "socialism" and "class warfare" from the raging right, support for President Obama's plan to return upper income tax rates to Clinton-era levels continues to enjoy overwhelming public support. That is one of the headlines from the latest CBS/New York Times poll which showed 74% back a tax increase for households making over $250,000 a year. Of course, it wasn't just Americans overall who during campaign 2008 preferred Barack Obama's planned tax cut for 95% of families. As it turns out, affluent voters, too, made the same choice on Election Day.
In the run up to the election in November, polling from Gallup revealed that by a 48% to 43% margin, Americans said Obama would better handle the issue of taxes than John McCain. And with good reason. As the Washington Post detailed in August, an analysis by the Tax Policy Center showed:

"Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy."

The numbers didn't lie. Those whose income is under $67,000 - 60% of all American taxpayers - would see substantially larger tax cuts under the Obama plan. While McCain's plan concentrated 58% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, Obama's proposed rollback of the Bush tax cuts above $250,000 would return tax rates to their 1990's levels of up to 39.6% for that group.
And yet, those very same upper income voters gave Barack Obama their support at the ballot box. In 2008, the well-to-do voted with their wallets; exit polls revealed that Barack Obama beat John McCain 52% to 46% among those earning over $200,000 annually. In stark contrast, the same group overwhelmingly backed George W. Bush over John Kerry by 63% to 35% four years earlier. (For more analysis of the factors driving that dramatic turnaround, visit here.)
As we fast forward to the debate over President Obama's proposed budget, support for his tax reforms remains strong. His promise kept to trim taxes for 95% of American families in the $787 billion stimulus bill, Obama's intention to let George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire enjoys broad backing. As the New York Times poll noted:

Q: The Obama administration has proposed increasing federal income taxes for households making more than $250,000 a year. Some of the money raised by these new taxes would be used to help improve access to healthcare and provide tax cuts for households making less money. Do you think this proposal is a good idea or a bad idea?
Good idea: 74% Bad idea: 23% DK/NA: 3%

Of course, the grim news doesn't end there for the class warriors of the Republican Party. When asked if they would still support upper income tax hikes even if it "hurts the economy," respondents by 51% to 34% continued to insist it was a good idea. (That hypothetical, as the 1990's boom suggests, isn't born out by history.) In addition, even in this difficult economic climate, a clear majority (57% to 38%) said they would pay higher taxes so all Americans could have health insurance. Meanwhile, as President Obama's approval jumped to the 66%, the favorability rating for the GOP plummeted to 31%, the lowest level in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.
All of which explains why the Republican campaign of distortion, deception and outright lying over President Obama budget continues at a fever pitch. While the likes of John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh regurgitate the long ago debunked myth that small businesses would be devastated by the Obama tax plan, John Boehner (R-OH) and John Ensign (R-NV) resurrected the falsehood that the proposed estate tax reforms would similarly gut small businesses and family farms. And to those twin frauds, the GOP has added a third in the form of a bogus $3,100 per family fallout from the President's cap-and-trade system. In response, the House GOP last week offered - wait for it - massive new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who need them least.
Mercifully, the American people aren't buying the Republicans latest rebottled snake oil. President Obama's tax proposals regarding the wealthy aren't just fair, they've seemingly concluded. The last time anything like them was tried, the economy worked pretty well for all Americans.

One comment on “Poll Shows Strong Support for Upper Income Tax Hikes”

  1. c mon, barack.....sockito em.
    wealth it retribution.
    just do it.
    save what remains of the ...middle it can help the poor.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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