Obama’s mandate: tax increase on rich

By Drew Lieberman and Andrew Baumann
November 16, 2012

Republican leaders such as Grover Norquist and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continue to strike a hard line on taxes and revenues, “warning” President Barack Obama that the GOP will not negotiate or compromise when it comes to tax policy and deficit reduction.

From an electoral politics standpoint, the Democrats should “have at it.”

As the election made clear, this policy is out of step with voters. Obama made raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year a centerpiece of his economic message – something he emphasized in his recent press conference – and he was rewarded with a resounding victory. Voters also handed Democrats an increased Senate majority, where the tax debate played out front-and-center in many campaigns.

This theme echoed through state politics as well. Voters in California, for example, passed Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to fund K-12 public schools through a revenue increase that comes from the highest earners.

Strikingly, on taxes – an issue long considered Republican terrain – Obama actually held a 46 – 44 percent advantage over GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney among voters, according to our Democracy Corps/Campaign for America’s Future post-election survey.

Further, in our post-election survey of the presidential and Senate battleground states conducted for a coalition of environmental groups, nearly a quarter of swing state voters said the top reason for opposing Romney (22 percent) and Senate Republicans (24 percent) was their support for giving more tax breaks to millionaires while raising taxes on the middle class. An additional 18 percent said their top reason to oppose Republicans was their backing of tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.

In addition, national exit polls show that a strong majority of 60 percent to 35 percent of voters support raising taxes on Americans making more than $250,000. Moreover, Gallup reports that support for tax increases as part of a budget deal is rising. Just 10 percent of Americans believe the deficit should be tackled with only spending cuts, down 10 points since last year. (By comparison, 56 percent believe such a deal should include at least half tax increases.)

The Republican Party’s determination to protect tax breaks for the wealthy, the big corporations and the special interests at the expense of the middle class will not only lead the country toward the fiscal cliff, it will likely serve to further disconnect the GOP from most of America.

Our post-election Democracy Corps polling looked specifically at different policies in relation to the coming negotiations about the fiscal cliff. And the result highlights strong support for the president’s position on taxes:

  • 75 percent of voters say “creating a higher tax rate on those earning over $1 million a year” is an acceptable policy, the second-highest rating of the 18 policies we tested.
  • 70 percent say “raising taxes on the richest 2 percent, while keeping taxes low for middle class and working people” is acceptable.
  •  More strikingly, 68 percent find “not raising taxes on the rich” an unacceptable option, with more than half the electorate feeling that way strongly. Let us say that again:  More than two-thirds of voters say that it would be unacceptable for a deal on the fiscal cliff to NOT include higher taxes on the wealthy.
  •  62 percent of voters say that any long-term deficit deal should get at least one-third of its deficit reduction from new tax revenue.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this polling is how Republican lawmakers such as McConnell are not only out of touch with Democrats and independents, but also out of touch with the Republican voters they claim to represent. Indeed, even a 56 percent majority of Republicans say that raising taxes on millionaires would be an acceptable part of a budget deal on the fiscal cliff.

There is clearly a mandate on taxes from this election. It’s just not the one Republicans are trying to convince themselves of.

The terms of the debate are now very different from 2010. Obama has all the leverage, while the Republicans may only dig themselves an even bigger hole by doubling down on policies that voters have soundly rejected.

PHOTO: President Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting to discuss the economy with Congressional leaders in the White House, Nov. 16, 2012.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

 

 

 

 

32 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Polls show that significantly more folks than voted for Obama want the wealthy to pay more taxes. As the first poster noted, these tax breaks for the wealthy have been in effect for more than 10 years and have not been creating jobs.

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive

Alkaline
Lets check back on how this impacts the ecomony. It will be a negative as the positvies will not out weigh the negatives. It is a drop in the bucket covering the deficit.

Posted by Crash866 | Report as abusive

This is a tactic to tantalize all of the ideologues of Democrat party – as the party of fairness. Both parties are a joke when they both put our nation’s future in jeopardy by playing with the tax code as a way to payback their donors. Obama’s supporters and that is what they are – are very excited by bright shiny objects – that little socialist tinkerers play with. There isn’t anything government does well – houses of Congress have colluded to spend – as a way of holding power, perks and patronage. There is a rare politician that understands the gravity of their position an chooses to do the right thing. Raising taxes on the wealthy – is OK if they are going to roll the spending back and move the country to sound financial footing. How can you trust anyone who won’t make a budget to right any financial ship?

Posted by xit007 | Report as abusive

xit007 writes: “Raising taxes on the wealthy – is OK if they are going to roll the spending back…”

Not sure what you’re complaining about. What you’ve just described is the Simpson-Bowles plan. Or by its more recent, media-driven name, the ‘fiscal cliff.’

There is no cliff, sport. The big thing we’re supposed to be scared of is returning taxes to what they were in the 90′s and making spending cuts across the board. But it’s not scary and it does not ruin economies. The economy of the 90′s was actually pretty good.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

We would all be in better shape if oil prices had stayed low and we didn’t have a 10 year war.

Republican or Democrat – all their plans and ideas pale when it comes to these 2 huge factors.

Will likely take us another decade to recover.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

ALkaline – whose scared – I think that is a great idea but you are going to find there is no will to stop government spending…You can’t have your cake and eat it too…Sure I think the Republicans are foolish for defending a 4% tax increase on the wealthiest. They have had worse days of taxation. But the folly comes when both parties need to shut down the over spending bureaucracies in Washington. Both parties are takers – when they spend beyond recovery. Kicking the can down road is not a solution. Did you see a budget in the last 4 years – that tells you there is no one at the helm of this ship….

Posted by xit007 | Report as abusive

I’ve got no problem with raising the tax rate on the rich, however even if you put it back to where it was under Clinton, you still on raise 87 billion a year. Where are you democraps going to come up with the other $1 trillion in new spending the idiot-in-chief wants to do. That 87 billion will also only cover the interest on the CURRENT NATIONAL DEBIT for 10 days! We need real lasting cost cutting (ACROSS THE BOARD)! Entitlements included.
As far as any comments about the payroll tax. Get rid of it. All it is doing is taking money out of the social security fund. We alread pay out dollars in social security to 4 people for every 1 person that pays into it now.
And last but not least, since democrpas seem to like to talk about the rich not paying “their fair share” of income tax, how about the bottem 47% who PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX. What is their fair share? And please don’t harp on me about all the other taxes they are paying. We all pay those too. Democraps are focusing on INCOME TAX!

Posted by Dave6280 | Report as abusive

we may not need tax increases or decreases if we can just stop the DC crowd from thinking this country needs too sent trillions to other countries too make sure they all have the latest in iphones flat screen tv’s in every home. Time to take care of this countries infrastructure and stay out of the rest of the worlds troubles. It doesn’t seem too make any difference if you tax the rich or poor MORE, it’s just never enough. What’s next? Tax that little bit of air we breath. Come on folks, Keep picking on the rich, they close up shop, leave town, nothing left. I’m retired and not rich, but you need someone around to take the risk of opening a business and that takes money and actually might put some of those that complain to work, if they actually can get out of bed and look for those jobs. Ten years past retirement and I still can find work. HUMMMMMM

Posted by bd38 | Report as abusive

Just because some poll says that “x” feel that doing something is right does not make it good policy. With respect to the questions at hand, how many voters actually know wha they are talking about? How many know what percentage of all taxes the top 2% pay? The fact is most have no idea and most do not have any clue how the economy works? We have an ignorant electorate, pure and simple. The president has made it his policy to prey on this electorate stirring up class divisions in his quest to redistribute wealth and income. He has no idea himself how business works because he never did anything in the private sector. Further he is dogmatic in his pursuit of social justice. Well, of he wants an example of that pursuit in real time, he can look at western Eirope. It is in decline and will be for years to come. The end game of social justice is bankruptcy as you run out of other peoples money to distribute. Margaret Thatcher was right and is turning in her grave as we speak. Journalists like you only perpetuate the problem with your complete ignorance.

Posted by emmf4000 | Report as abusive

Posted by emmf4000
‘We have an ignorant electorate, pure and simple. The president has made it his policy to prey on this electorate stirring up class divisions in his quest to redistribute wealth and income. He has no idea himself how business works because he never did anything in the private sector’

You win the excellence in insight award….I completely agree and have witnessed this phenomena in our local community. I have said ‘how do you get a community organizer to think about anything other than using government money for his projects – he could care less about the economy or how it works. Add to your narrative – a group of whiners who bellyache every time there is a bump in the road or their ideology is not fostered. What a mess – unfortunately it might take a taste of their own policies to turn things around. I thought there was more intelligence in the general populace – but our education system is a victim of the liberal bureaucracy and all they whine about is more money.. there’s a pattern here.

Posted by xit007 | Report as abusive

I guess the authors of this piece doesn’t realize that Republicans kept the US House and Obama only won by 3 points.

Posted by bjoh249 | Report as abusive