The focus in Washington has now shifted to the fiscal cliff, with the White House and Congress, particularly the House Republicans, staking out negotiating positions on the expiring Bush tax cuts and the looming budget sequester.
The White House’s firm opening salvo—and House Speaker John Boehner’s grudging admission that he is “open” to a budget deal that contains new revenue—have been much discussed. With six in 10 Americans expressing support for higher taxes in exit polls on Nov. 6, President Barack Obama’s position is a strong one.
It’s important to remember, however, that the public came out on Election Day in support of more than Obama’s tax stance. Exit polls and public-opinion surveys show that the president’s mandate goes far beyond taxes and the fiscal cliff.
The president pointed this out at his first post-election press conference. “I’ve got a mandate,” Obama said, “to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class.”
Obama didn’t win just because of demographics: He won on the economy. He won because the electorate understood that a vote for Obama was a vote for policies that would help the middle class and the working poor. Three-quarters of voters said the president’s policies favored these groups, while 53 percent said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s policies favored the rich.