One of the issues that Republicans have been running on is extending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of earners, but a new Gallup poll released today revealed that a large majority of Americans don’t want the tax cuts extended to the richest Americans. 59% favor either letting the tax cuts completely expire, or extending them for those making $250,000 or less.
According to Gallup, 44% of those surveyed want the tax cuts extended only for those making $250,000 or less, while 37% want the tax cuts extended for everyone, and 15% want Congress to allow the tax cuts to completely expire. By political affiliation, the breakdown is what you would expect, 54% of Republicans want to keep the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Thirty nine percent of Independents favor keeping all the tax cuts, and only 18% of Democrats favor keeping all the tax cuts.
By the far the most popular option is to extend the tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. Thirty two percent of Republicans favor this option, as do 41% of Independents, and 60% percent of Democrats. There is a bit of surprising support for letting the tax cuts completely expire. Eleven percent of Republicans favored letting all the tax cuts expire. This option has the support of 15% of Independents, and 19% of Democrats. All told 59% of those surveyed favored some form of rollback of the Bush tax cuts.
This poll is bad news for Republicans high and low who have made extending the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent a tent pole issue of their fall campaign. The lesson here is that class politics are a powerful issue in a down economy, and the idea of subsidizing a tax cut for the wealthy is especially distasteful to a majority of Americans during a recession. As with all positions taken within the Republican Party, their stance on the Bush tax cuts is by guided by ideology, not economics, Republicans still believe that all tax cuts are good, and that trickle down economics is even better.
On this issue, public support is in favor of President Obama and the Democratic Party’s plan to extend the tax cuts to those making $250,000 or less. This is a dog of an issue for the GOP, and they should drop it as soon as possible, but they won’t, and you can count on Democratic candidates around the country airing 30 second ads that all start out with the same phrase, “Republican candidate X voted for tax cuts for the rich, while voting against unemployment insurance. He/she doesn’t care about regular hard working Americans.” By stubbornly sticking to their ideology Republicans are walking into a trap of their own creation.
This week we have seen President Obama take a more populist tone, and his position on the tax cuts embodies a populist message. In vote after vote, congressional Republicans have harmed their stakes in November with out of touch stances on the economic issues that matter most to many Americans. I suspect that they are about to give Democrats another huge club to beat them over the head with. In this case Obama and the Democrats have got it right, and if the GOP doesn’t wake up quickly, they will give their opponents a strong class argument with populist overtones to use against them this November.