Steve Kornacki writes Has the right won on taxes?
The idea of asking the wealthy to contribute more revenue consistently polls very well and has for years. Which raises a logical question: If it?s so popular, why is raising taxes on the rich so hard to achieve politically?
Several explanations come to mind, but one that jumps out involves the Republican Party?s prioritization of low tax rates for high earners and the distortive effect that their efforts to protect those rates can have on public opinion. The key here is that the GOP doesn?t market itself as a party that favors preferential treatment for the wealthy; it pitches itself as the protector of all taxpayers, even (or especially) those in the middle class. Thus, when Democrats seek to raise rates on the rich, Republicans respond by stoking fears of the non-rich that they?re the ones who are really getting robbed.
The best demonstration of this came nearly 20 years ago, when Bill Clinton enacted the higher rates (36 and 39.6 percent) for upper-income earners that Obama now wants to return to. Clinton had campaigned in 1992 on the idea of asking the rich to pay more, and the idea had seemed popular with the public. But when he put his budget together, Republicans lined up against it unanimously and railed against ?the largest tax increase in history.? And the same voters who told pollsters they favored higher rates on the rich sided with them, convinced by all of the noise that Clinton was going after more than just the top 2 percent. Just consider this 1994 story from Newsday?s Glenn Kessler, who visited Kentucky and found blue collars voters furious about a nonexistent tax hike:
Many people appeared to have only a distant grasp of how decisions made in Washington affected their lives. In fact, most repeated the same myths. Virtually everyone said that Clinton and the Democrats in Congress raised their taxes as part of the deficit-reduction package passed last year, even though few here make enough money to have qualified for higher tax rates. In fact, the same tax law greatly expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, resulting in a tax cut for many workers in this relatively poor region. [...]
The Clinton story shows that just because a president does what voters tell pollsters they want him to do on taxes doesn?t guarantee voters will understand it that way ? especially if one of the two major parties is loudly and unanimously arguing that the president has done something completely and totally different from what he says he did.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2002:
I hate to say this about anyone, but NY Post columnist John Podhoretz is an asshole. To what do we owe this ad hominem attack? In his latest column, Podhoretz urges the president to invade Iraq in order to boost his numbers and improve GOP chances in November.
You're in some domestic political trouble, Mr. President. You need to change the subject. You have the biggest subject-changer of all at your disposal. Use it.
Even if Iraq is unable to kill a single soldier or airman, Americans will still die. Fatal accidents are common in the military, and such accidents are obviously more common when waging war (just ask the Canadians).
For this columnist to callously condemn Americans to certain death in order to boost the president's political fortunes is nothing short of barbaric. Podhoretz claims he is being practical, Machiavellian. No he's not. He's being a coward. It's easy enough to send others to their death. But I don't see Ann Coulter, the editorial board of the National Review, Robert Novak or Podhoretz volunteering to serve in the vanguard of any such invasion.
Great day on the Kagro in the Morning show on Daily Kos Radio today! Bain, tax returns, the continuing filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act, Romney's Mississippi fundraiser, and Chris Christie's fading VP star. Best of all, it's all bookended by appearances from DemFromCT, Lizz Winstead and Shannyn Moore!