Taxing the rich remains popular

November 28, 2012

Raising taxes on income over $250,000 remains a broadly popular approach to dealing with the country’s budgetary woes, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. 

Sixty percent of all Americans back higher taxes on higher incomes in the new Post-ABC data. Earlier this month, an identical 60 percent of voters in the presidential election said income taxes should be raised on income over $250,000, according to the national exit poll.

In the new poll, 73 percent of Democrats support such tax hikes, including a majority, 57 percent, who do so “strongly.” Among political independents, 63 percent back an increase, while 59 percent of Republicans oppose such a move.

Other proposed solutions to shrinking the debt are far less popular with the public. Only 44 percent support new limitations on the deductions people can claim on their federal income taxes -- a proposal that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney put forward during his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.

Even fewer -- 30 percent -- favor raising the age for Medicare from 65 to 67, part of a bid by Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that would hit if there is no deal by the end of the year. 

Limiting deductions gets only tepid support across party lines, with greater numbers strongly opposed than strongly supportive among Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. 

Democrats, Republicans and independents also unite in opposition to hiking the entry age for Medicare, with the opposition particularly stiff among Democrats. Opposition to such a change peaks (naturally) among those aged 50 to 64 -- the very people who will soon reap those benefits.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a Post-Pew survey after the election found widespread public doubt that a deal will be reached by the end of the year, with skepticism far exceeding its level preceding the agreement on the “debt ceiling” in 2011.

GOP Rep. calls for party to take Democrats' tax deal: Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that Republicans in Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, arguing that it wouldn't violate their pledge not to raise taxes.

Speaking at a private session, the former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman said his party should agree to tax cuts for everyone else, avert the fiscal cliff, and argue over tax cuts for the wealthy later.

"I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” he told Politico after the session. “It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don’t.”

Cole said that Democrats have leverage because they can argue that Republicans are holding up renewing the tax cuts for the 98 percent.

“Some people think that’s our leverage in the debate. It’s the Democrats’ leverage in the debate,” he said.

Cole also said not voting to renew a tax cut shouldn't be seen as violating the pledge, because it's technically not a vote that raises taxes. Grover Norquist, the sponsor of the pledge, seemed to say the same thing in a 2011 interview with the Washington Post editorial board, but has since said that he was misquoted.

“I don’t see that as a violation of my pledge,” Cole said.

Fixbits:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says the GOP risks becoming "a dinosaur."

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is dropping out of the state's open governor's race, paving the way for a matchup between state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will reportedly announce in July whether he will seek reelection. Perry would be seeking a fourth full term, but many other Republicans are interested in the job and have been waiting patiently.

Alan Simpson turns Norquist's bathtub metaphor on Norquist himself.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, will push for a modified version of Voter ID in which voters can have their picture's taken at the polls.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) compares Hurricane Sandy to Hurricane Katrina, and some aren't happy about it.

Republicans still sore about Mitt Romney's loss think they can prevent a second Obama term by boycotting the Electoral College.

Must-reads:

"Filibuster fight reignites partisan sparring in Senate" -- Paul Kane, Washington Post

"Obama public relations effort aims to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’" -- David Nakamura and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post 

"Investigation Into General Narrows Look at E-Mail" -- Elisabeth Bumiller and Scott Shane, New York Times

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Sean Sullivan | November 27, 2012