Now that we’ve all accepted the inevitable deal on tax cuts, let’s move on to the messaging. The Republican choice? Self-delusion, as the party ignores the myriad polls showing the public is not on their side (and many in the media … I see you David Gregory …) let them get away with it, and Peggy Noonan actually equates tax bonuses for the rich with “hope” … seriously…
Let’s start with the facts. Poll after poll shows that a clear majority of Americans do NOT support giving extended tax cuts to the rich. That’s an objective fact that the media should stop allowing the Mike Murphys of the world to outright lie about, which Murphy did both on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” and this morning on “Morning Joe.” No, Mike, the public does NOT support giving the rich extended tax breaks. They did not cast votes in November saying they did, and no credible poll backs up what you’re saying.
Let’s review. Tax cuts are NOT a top priority for a majority of Americans:
|CBS News Poll. Nov. 7-10, 2010. N=1,137 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.|
|“Of all the problems facing this country today, which one do you most want the new Congress to concentrate on first when it begins in January?” Open-ended|
|Economy and jobs||56|
|Budget deficit/National debt||4|
|USA Today/Gallup Poll. Oct. 28-31, 2010. N=1,140 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.|
|“Looking ahead, which of the following should be the highest priority for Congress after the election: repealing the new healthcare law, passing a new economic stimulus bill designed to create jobs, cutting federal spending, or extending all the federal income tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration?” Options rotated|
|Passing new stimulus bill||38|
|Cutting federal spending||24|
|Repealing health care law||23|
|Extending all income tax cuts||8|
And Americans overwhelmingly support only ONE tax cut policy: and that is the policy preferred by DEMOCRATS:
|CBS News Poll. Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2010. N=808 adults voters nationwide. MoE ± 4.|
|“Which comes closest to your view about the tax cuts passed in 2001? The tax cuts should be continued for everyone. The tax cuts should only continue for households earning less than $250,000 a year. OR, The tax cuts should expire for everyone.”|
| Continue for
| Continue if
| Expire for
More Americans would rather INCREASE taxes on the wealthy than cut taxes:
|USA Today/Gallup Poll. Nov. 19-21, 2010. N=1,037 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.|
|“If you had to choose, which of these do you think would be the best approach for Congress and the president to take in dealing with the U.S. economy: increasing government stimulus spending, cutting taxes, reducing the federal budget deficit and national debt, or increasing taxes on the wealthy?” Options rotated|
And staying with USAT/Gallup, which is probably the most conservative leaning sample of any credible poll (Rasmussen isn’t credible, k?)… Americans are more inclined toward shifting the tax burden toward the rich:
|“What do you think Congress should do about the income tax cuts passed under George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of this year: allow the tax cuts to expire, keep the tax cuts but set new limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates, or keep the tax cuts for all Americans regardless of income?” Options rotated|
| Allow tax
cuts to expire
| New limits
| Keep tax
cuts for all
… but they’re also open to the kind of compromise the president is seeking:
|“What do you think Congress should do about the income tax cuts passed under George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of this year: allow the tax cuts to expire, keep the tax cuts but set new limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates, or keep the tax cuts for all Americans regardless of income?” If think tax cuts should be kept: “Do you think the tax cuts should be kept temporarily, until the economy improves, or should the tax cuts be kept permanently?” Options rotated. Combined responses.|
| Allow tax
cuts to expire
BTW, note that the liberal absolutist position of letting all the tax cuts expire is the LEAST popular of all the options. Note that.
Now, let’s get to the delusions.
Republican pollsters are currently providing the following Mike Murphyesque pretense on the public mood:
FIRST LOOK – CROSSROADS GPS, a Republican outside group, will release a polling memo from Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies on how to message the coming extension of tax cuts for everyone: “Voters are EVENLY divided on the question of extending the tax cuts for people earning $250,000 or more. Republicans support extension, Democrats oppose it, and Independents are split on the issue. … Supporters of extended tax cuts for all should drive the message that the best way to balance the budget is to cut spending, grow the economy, and create new jobs. Raising taxes on small businesses and job creators will make things worse.” See the 5-page memo http://politi.co/ed7kt4 Results (21-page PDF) http://politi.co/hkgWur
So the Republican spin is going to be that despite all the polling data quoted above, Americans really, really do support tax bonus payments to the rich – they really do believe in trickle down economics — it’s just the “liberals” who disagree. WRONG. The Republicans are pursuing a policy that helps the rich, but that is unpopular with the public. They have forced a deal based on holding the middle class hostage, and the Democratic president is not going to allow the Republicans to harm middle class Americans. Today, he’ll give the Republicans their tax cuts for the rich, but only temporarily, to avoid harming middle class Americans. And in return, he will demand that the unemployed be given the same deal Republicans are demanding for the rich: two years of certainty.
Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan takes the delusion to Defcon Five in her latest column, writing that the president:
… should confound everyone, and give a headache to his foes, by bowing to the spirit of 2010 and accepting the Bush tax cuts, top to bottom. It would be electrifying. It would seem responsive, and impress the center.
Huh??? But wait, there’s more:
If we instead refuse to raise taxes right now, we will be setting a stage in which cuts in federal spending are the only path. Cutting spending will seem inevitable, like something that will actually happen. This will give rise to hope. There’s a way out! We can do it!
Well there you have it. Hopey-changey-voodoo economics-hooey. Please tip your waiter.
So what should the president (and Democrats) say?
It should be pretty simple for the president to explain that if Republicans are going to demand that the rich get “certainty” in the form of extended tax cuts, this president and his fellow Democratic damned sure want certainty for the middle class and the unemployed. He should say that Republicans should not take a victory lap based on having fought for the richest, most powerful interests in the country. It’s much harder, and much more important, to fight for the regular people, who work hard every day and aren’t getting a big Wall Street bonus this holiday season, or who just want a job, but can’t find one. It’s much more important to fight for those who have suffered in this recession, and that’s what he’s doing, no matter what the political jeopardy to himself. If Republicans want to high five because they’ve won extended tax cuts for the rich, which will cost more than the stimulus, they should remember that while they and the rich are celebrating, 15 million Americans are waiting for jobs.
The president should not be conciliatory. He should not frame this as a capitulation. He should throw a giant bucket of cold water on the GOP celebration by shaming them about their “win.”
Let’s see if he pulls it off. Prez to speak any minute now.
Meanwhile, do read this.
… and this.