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Morning Plum: The only elections that mattered: 2010 and 2014

To hear Republicans and conservatives tell it, the only two elections that mattered in the last decade were those that took place in 2010 and 2014. Thus, when President Obama, in his State of the Union address, took the extraordinarily brazen step of using the high-profile occasion to outline a series of proposals he and his party support, Republicans widely treated it as proof that Obama is ignoring What America Really Wants, which was supposedly laid out for all to see in the last election.

Fortunately, this morning Gallup posted a piece recapping what its polling shows about what the American people actually think of the proposals Obama outlined. The key economic proposals, it turns out, have broad support.

— On the minimum wage hike, Gallup notes that their November 2013 poll showed that 76% were in favor of raising it to $9 an hour, while 22% were opposed. Many other polls show similar results.

— On infrastructure, Gallup notes that its polling has shown very strong support for infrastructure spending to create jobs. One poll that specifically mentioned spending government money showed 72 percent support — even though Americans often tell pollsters they hate Big Spending Big Gummint.

— Things are a bit more nuanced on Obama’s tax reform proposals, which would tax capital gains and inherited wealth to fund tax breaks for working and middle class Americans. Previous Gallup polling has shown that 61 percent of Americans say upper-income people pay too little in taxes, while 49 percent say the middle class pays too much.

However, as Gallup also notes: “far fewer Americans expressed the relevant combination of views to be completely in sync with Obama’s redistributive goals.” This is in keeping with the dial session I watched, which showed that swing voters react more enthusiastically to concrete proposals to address their economic challenges than to general statements embodying redistributive principles and priorities. Gallup also showed relatively weak support for strengthening unions, which was also reflected in that dial session.

Still, other polling has shown public support for government doing more to address inequality, particularly through taxing the wealthy to fund programs for the poor.

Gallup has also found majority support for other proposals in his speech, such as doing more to curb carbon emissions and normalizing relations with Cuba, though it finds majority opposition to closing Guantanamo.

A couple of caveats: Both parties overstate the “mandates” they supposedly were handed in winning elections. And issue polling has limitations in that public opinion on specific issues doesn’t necessarily motivate voters.

However, Republicans widely claimed that the specific prescriptions Obama outlined show he’s in denial about what the American people actually want. And news outlets and commentators, in various ways, cheerfully played along with this meme. You’d think polls that tell us where the American people actually stand on those prescriptions would have some relevance to this discussion.


* NEW STUDY SHOWS WHO WOULD BE HURT BY SCOTUS RULING: Margot Sanger-Katz reports on a new Urban Institute study finding that if the Supreme Court guts subsidies in three dozen states, millions of people, or around two thirds of those getting subsidies in those states, would drop coverage. The breakdown is particularly interesting: 61 percent are white; 61 percent are from the south; and, crucially, 47 percent are full-time workers while 34 percent are part-time workers.

Given the profile of those impacted, it could perhaps be politically somewhat challenging for GOP lawmakers in these states to refrain from setting up exchanges to keep subsidies flowing. Also, this again raises the question: Will GOP governors who embraced the Medicaid expansion willingly accept federal funds to expand health care to poor people, but not accept them to expand health care to working people?

* RUBIO-MENTUM!!!! ABC News learns that Senator Marco Rubio appears to be seriously leaning into a 2016 run for the White House:

“He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president,” a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.

That loud sound you hear is Rubio aides furiously running all of his statements in support of comprehensive immigration reform through the shredder.

* WALKER-MENTUM!!! The Des Moines Register reports that Team Scott Walker has signed up a key operative in Iowa, a pretty clear sign he’s in. Walker, I’d say, looks like he has a plausible shot at uniting the party’s conservative and establishment wings in ways many other GOP hopefuls don’t.

 * WHY HOUSE GOP YANKED ABORTION BILL: Ed O’Keefe has a good overview of the infighting among Republicans in the wake of the House GOP leadership’s abrupt yanking of a bill, after Republican women objected, that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks, with a weak rape exemption. Here’s why it was pulled:

The GOP critics, all of whom oppose abortion, said the bill went too far and would expose Republicans in swing districts to a barrage of attack ads in 2016 from women’s rights groups and Democrats. They worry that they could be particularly disadvantaged on abortion and other women’s issues if Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Demo­cratic nominee for president.

Or, as Politico put it: “Republicans keep talking about rape, and the political consequences keep coming.”

* HOUSE GOP LEADERSHIP BUCKS ANTI-ABORTION WING: Roll Call’s Emma Dumain adds this about the pulling of the bill:

A significant contingent of women and moderate members of the House Republican Conference prevailed Wednesday, convincing GOP leadership that the political blowback for voting to ban abortions after 20 weeks could far outweigh any favor curried with the anti-abortion base of the party.

Beyond this, social conservatives will have to contend with GOP presidential candidates who are feinting towards moderation (sort of) on gay marriage. It’ll be interesting to see how this abortion battle plays in the coming GOP primary.

* QUOTE OF THE DAY, WOMEN-KNOW-SOMETHING-ABOUT-BABIES EDITION: The New York Times reports that the anti-abortion bill has opened up a rift between GOP women and the anti-abortion moment. This is a fun little moment from the debate:

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, recalled on Thursday when she was new to Congress and opposed a bill restricting abortion.”One of the Republican members got up and said, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope,'” Ms. Pelosi, who has five children, said, adding, “Yeah. Yeah. That would be true.”

No idea if this really happened, but if so, a lot of layers of meaning there…

* AND HERE’S RAND PAUL’S CREATIVE TAKE ON THE DISABLED: Senator Rand Paul has opined that “over half of the people” on Social Security Disability Insurance “are either anxious or their back hurts.” Glenn Kessler takes apart Paul’s claim, and in the process, provides a very good guide to the facts of this debate. Conclusion:

The clear implication was there were significant numbers of “able bodied people taking the money” through common ailments like back pain and being anxious about work. But not only is the rate of fraud relatively low, but it mostly involves people who are working who should not be getting payments, rather than people who are getting paid and not working. Moreover, even a generous interpretation of the data does not generate a figure close to more than half of beneficiaries getting paid for simply back pain and anxiety.

But Paul is the Most Interesting Man In Politics, so who cares whether what he says is true or not?