Obama’s tax plan: Hating the player, not the game

at 07:52 AM ET, 10/06/2011

You can’t get 75 percent of people to agree to much of anything these days.

But according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 75 percent of Americans agree that millionaires should have their taxes raised.

This is the crux of President Obama’s tax policy and perhaps the best-known aspect of the jobs plan he has put before Congress.

But when voters are asked whether they support the president’s jobs plan, support drops to 52 percent. And when they are asked who they trust more to deal with the operative issue here — taxes — Republicans have a seven-point advantage on Obama, 46 percent to 39 percent. That’s actually a reversal of April, when more Americans trusted Obama (47 percent) than Republicans (42 percent) on taxes.

So if Obama’s idea on taxes is so popular and Republicans are fighting against it, why have people moved towards the GOP on taxes?

It’s all about branding.

Look at it this way: If you ask people whether they like puppies right now, 80 percent would say that like them. If you ask people whether they like Obama’s puppy, you’d probably get a significantly lower number.

Likewise, if you asked whether people like “Obama’s plan” to raise taxes on millionaires, you would probably get a significantly lower number than just the straight question yields.

With two in five Americans now strongly disapproving of the president, attaching his name to anything is asking for trouble.

“The failure of his economic policies means he no longer has credibility on issues of taxes and spending,” said GOP pollster Glen Bolger.

Now, that’s not the whole answer, of course.

Part of it, undoubtedly, is that this is people’s default position when it comes to taxes. Republicans are known as the party of lower taxes and have, over the years, successfully painted Democrats as big-government types who want to raise your taxes.

“One is a policy – whether pushed by Obama or in a vacuum – that people support, and one is more a reflection of both Obama personally and a party advantage on an individual issue,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone.

It also may reflect the fact that we are still very early in the sales process of Obama’s jobs plan, and people haven’t quite thought things through or connected themselves personally to the policy.

“Clearly, voters see raising taxes on millionaires as a value (which they support), but doesn’t have to do with raising or lowering their taxes,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang.

But when Obama is so forcefully pushing a policy — including promoting the “Buffett Rule” of late — that appears to be so popular on the surface, one would expect that it would buoy his numbers on that issue. And that goes double when the other side is resisting that very popular idea.

Instead, Obama’s approval rating on taxes continues to drop and people now say they trust Republicans more on the issue of taxes.

Obama’s team sees this tax plan as the president’s ticket to recovering his good name. But these things work both ways, and the fact that his name is in ill repute right now may actually be hurting what appears to be a pretty broadly popular jobs plan.

With so many people putting themselves firmly in the anti-Obama camp and others starting to see more of Obama’s faults, that makes it more likely that they will find fault with his jobs plan.

And despite most Americans still being very open to his jobs plan — 52 percent support is nothing to sneeze at — it’s going to be an obstacle going forward.

Nevada thickens the plot: The presidential calendar continues to move toward a 2011 start, after Nevada’s Republican Party late Wednesday set its presidential caucuses for Jan. 14.

Nevada is one of four states the Republican National Committee has allowed to go earlier than any other. But all four of those states have been forced to move their contests from February to January after Florida last week jumped ahead of them and set its primary for Jan. 31.

“By establishing this date, we maintain Nevada’s standing as one of the first four ‘carve-out’ states and as the very first in the west,”state GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said in a statement announcing the Jan. 14 date.

Now the question is whether the two states that will go before Nevada will follow state law.

New Hampshire law says that its first-in-the-nation primary must be held at least eight days before every state but Iowa, while Iowa’s state law says its first-in-the-nation caucuses must be held seven days before any other contest.

If Nevada sticks with Jan. 14, and those two states follow the letter of the law, Iowa would have to hold its caucuses in December, while New Hampshire, which typically holds its primary on a Tuesday, would go no later than Jan. 3.

Those laws haven’t always proven an impediment though; in 2008, Iowa held its caucuses just five days before New Hampshire.

Environmental groups target nine House districts with big buy: An alliance of environmental groups is going up with nearly $2 million worth of advertising in nine House districts.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment Ohio, the League of Conservation Voters, the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, and Environment New Jersey will be running ads in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey, focusing on the House-passed TRAIN Act, which would limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The ads will be run against Reps. Lou Barletta (R) and Tim Holden (D) in Pennsylvania, Rep. Steve Stivers (R) in Ohio, Rep. Tim Walberg (R) in Michigan and four New Jersey Republicans — Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance, Chris Smith, and Frank LoBiondo. Most of these members are considered vulnerable or could be after redistricting.

“Voting against clean air puts polluters before people and endangers kids, who are more vulnerable to dirty air,” said Frances Beinecke, president of Natural Resources Defense Council. “We want these lawmakers’ constituents to know who is choosing to protect the air we breathe and who is opting to put our health at risk.”

Environment Ohio will also run an ad praising Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), who could face a primary with a fellow Democrat after her district was chopped up in redistricting.

Hirono gets Inouye’s endorsement: Big news out of the Hawaii Senate race, where Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) is quickly becoming the establishment favorite in her primary with former congressman Ed Case.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) may have sealed the deal Wednesday with his not-quite-endorsement of Hirono.

“This sounds silly to some, but I have not used the word ‘endorse,’ so I can say with a straight face that I have not endorsed anyone, but I’m friendly to Mazie,” Inouye told Hono­lulu Civil Beat. “I’ve been to her fundraisers.”

Inouye also said he hopes she wins, which sounds an awful lot like an endorsement to The Fix.

Inouye, you may recall, was sore at Case in 2006 after he accused Case of lying to him about his plans to challenge Sen. Daniel Akaka (D). Case lost that primary, and Akaka is retiring now.

Fixbits:

On her way out of the presidential race, Sarah Palin takes a shot at Chris Christie.

A conservative group advertises against Mitt Romney.

Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler says a Democratic National Committee attack on Romney’s Social Security position is “ridiculous.”

Romney gets a top bundler who had been holding out for Christie.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) gets tripped up by the facts again.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says again that he won’t be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee. And yet people still won’t believe it.

Arizona Republicans led by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) have indicated they will fight tooth and nail against the draft congressional map approved by the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission. GOPers say the map favors Demcorats.

Utah state legislators have recessed for two weeks as the two chambers fight over how to draw new congressional districts.

Democrats line up a challenger for Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.).

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock (D) raised $157,000 in his first quarter as a candidate for governor.

Must-reads:

William Daley offers window into the West Wing” — Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times

GOP strategist at center of 2 big campaigns” — Mark Arsenault, Boston Globe

A Candidate Writing His Own Campaign Rules” — Susan Saulny, New York Times

 
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