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Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 11/18/2010

Psst. Dems? Public supports letting high end tax cuts expire

By Greg Sargent

Since we're talking about whether Dems will stand firm and hold a vote on extending just the middle class tax cuts, it's worth taking a look at what the internals of the new NBC/WSJ poll show on this question:

Congress will soon decide whether to keep in place the existing tax cuts enacted during President Bush's time in office, or allow them to expire. Which one of the following options would be your preference for what they should do?

Eliminate all the tax cuts permanently: 10

Eliminate the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year, but keep them for those earning less than that: 39

Keep in place all the tax cuts for everyone for another year to three years: 23

Keep in place the tax cuts for everyone permanently: 23

The virtue of this poll is that it offers Americans the choice of picking from all the options that are on the table right now, including the Dem proposal to extend just the middle class cuts, the "compromise" temporary extension of all the cuts, and the GOP proposal for a permanent extension of all of them.

As it happens, far and away the largest group, 39 percent, favors the Dem proposal of extending only the middle class cuts and letting the high end ones expire.

Now, this is not entirely conclusive. Another way to look at these numbers is to note that 46 percent favor either a temporary or permanent extension of all the cuts. The counter to that, though, is that more -- 49 percent -- favor the options that would eliminate the tax cuts on the wealthy.

But all that parsing aside, the simple fact is that when the public is offered the full range of options currently being considered, the Dem position has significantly more public support than any other one. The "compromise" being discussed is supported by less than a fourth. So why is there even a debate underway among Dems over how proceed?


UPDATE, 12:36 p.m.: One other quick point on this. The 46 percent that favor either a temporary or permanent extension of all the cuts isn't even really a meaningful number. That's because this isn't the GOP position: The GOP position is that we must permanently extend all the cuts. Period, full stop. And less than a fourth agree with that.

Bottom line: The Dem position has much more support than either the GOP position or the "compromise" one.

By Greg Sargent  | November 18, 2010; 12:06 PM ET
Categories:  House Dems, House GOPers, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, taxes  
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Comments

I imagine that the public opinion on this will get the same hearing that any public opinion gets when it opposes the Republican viewpoint. Republicans will simply claim Americans don't want it and the press will repeat it. You can use the public option as an example. It's a good template.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 18, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"You can use the public option as an example. It's a good template."

Exactly. The public option was health care reform. Since the Ds are feckless, they decided to pass a bill that was not health care reform and try to sell the idea that it was. The Republicans laughed. The Democrats are expected to change the way things work (progressive), the Republicans are supposed to stop change from happening (conservative). If the Democrats don't make change, then what are they?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 18, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Um 23 plus 23 equals 46


Um, you think this poll helps the democrats?

What about capital gains, the estate tax and the whole group of other tax issues???

Why cant't they settle on raising the top rate from 35% to 36% and agree that Clinton's Temporary Surcharge was just that Temporary.


To NOT do that would bring back something intended to be Temporary, and sold to the American People as Temporary.

On this point, Obama is being DECEPTIVE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"So why is there even a debate underway among Dems over how proceed?"

Because of the cowardly Blue Dogs. Obama needs to get out in front on this issue and destroy the canard that the extension of tax cuts for the top 2% is going to hurt small business. Letting the fat cats off the tax hook didn't do a damn thing to create jobs during the Cheney/Bush Administration, so the GOP are either delusional or lying. It's about time Obama stops the bipartisan BS and step to the plate. You don't play nice with those who admit that their sole goal is to destroy you. I think this is the seminal moment of his first term. If he caves, I doubt there will be a second term.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 18, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

So the republicans are trying to ram a tax cut for the rich down the throats of the American people. Aren't they supposed to be listening to WE THE PEOPLE? Isn't that their new slogan?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 18, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. And when you separate the two (middle-class tax cuts from high-end tax cuts) the outcome for Democrats is very favorable politically (and policy-wise). And this is exactly why the Republicans don't want them to be separated. Plus, people may want higher taxes on the wealthy, but they aren't going to give up their own tax cuts to get there. So if you let all of the tax cuts expire, option 1 in the poll question, you only get 10 % support.

Posted by: klautsack | November 18, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I am an idiot spewing nonsense over and over on every thread of this blog.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 12:19 PM


That's how you do it, right Brigade?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

"So why is there even a debate underway among Dems over how proceed?"

Uh, I hate to sound sort of like a pr*ck on this one...but how about instead of rhetorically asking this at the end of a blog post, you instead actually ask that same question to Democratic lawmakers on the Hill?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 18, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

filmnoia | November 18, 2010 12:23 PM

It is impossible for the democrats to have a majority without the Blue Dogs.


So to ignore what they need to get elected, and what they need to get re-elected is basically the "liberals cutting their own throats"

.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I have to look in the mirror. I paid real money and spent a few hours agitating friends and neighbors to help Obama get elected. I actually thought Obama was a tough political fighter; based upon his life history, he seemed to be, I don't know, stress tolerant at least. But we know the drill, we all know what is going to happen (cue the low self esteem song), the Democrats will say they don't have to votes and the income disparity will widen, the deficit will get worse...Democrats will take the blame, willingly. Heck, I am taking the blame. It is a vicious cycle.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

shrink2 -

Sadly, I think you are correct. I hope for the best but generally expect the worst, and rarely am I surprised.
The Cheney/Bush crowd purposefully left the first black Prez a big crap sandwich. No one can get us out of this mess, but at least Barack can go down with the ship and take all the worthless Dems and the GOP with him. It's really the Camus notion of the absurd. You know the proposition is hopeless, but your essence as a human is to continue to fight against the forces that will ultimately destroy you.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 18, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Democratic Caucus


Two-thirds of the remaining democrats in the House have districts which are at least 30% minority.

Think about that.


These House democrats are NOT responsive to the country as a whole, and they are NOT responsive to the competitive situation of the Blue Dogs.

__________________________


The talk coming out of these people is astonishing.

No wonder Obama is making serious mistakes - no one in the democratic party is giving him good advice.


What is even worse, the out-of-touch nature of the rhetoric means that the democrats are going to be not only unwilling, but UNABLE, to put themselves together in a meaningful constructive way.


____________________________


Shrink

What are you talking about? Do you have any idea what the numbers are?


NONE of these ideas is going to enable the democrats to appeal to the center to come back.

The liberals have become incompatible with their own centrists and Blue Dogs.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.

The competition for slowest growth is not even close, either. Growth from 2001 to 2007 averaged 2.39 percent a year (and growth from 2001 through the third quarter of 2010 averaged 1.66 percent). The decade with the second-worst showing for growth was 1971 to 1980 -- the dreaded 1970s -- but it still had 3.21 percent average growth.

The picture does not change if you instead look at five-year periods.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/were-the-bush-tax-cuts-good-for-growth/

These are documented, incontrovertible facts but I'm sure those on the right will "dispute" them based on the source.

The column goes on:

I mean this as a serious question, not a rhetorical one: Given this history, why should we believe that the Bush tax cuts were pro-growth?
Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.

Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade.

The theory for why tax cuts should create growth and jobs is a strong one. When people are allowed to keep more of each dollar they earn, they are likely to work longer and harder. The uncertainty is the magnitude of this effect. With everything else that’s happening in a $15 trillion economy, how large of an effect on growth do tax cuts have?

Every available piece of evidence seems to suggest that the Bush tax cuts did little to lift growth. I have yet to hear a good argument to the contrary, but I’d be fascinated to see another blogger or an economist take a crack at it.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 18, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

pragmaticagain

Your comment at 12:41 PM qualifies as "intent to harass" and you should be banned for that.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Prag writes:

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II.

________________________

How can you compare a wartime economy with a peacetime economy - and an economy in which the other nations of the world were war-torn and under Communism??

Your point makes no sense


In addition, the economy would have been much WORSE WITHOUT THE TAX CUTS.

(Does that logic sound familiar?)

_________________________


The other flaw in your thinking is that Economic policies take time to kick in.

Our Economic Crisis was caused by Clinton

- the Free Trade deals

- Clinton's Deregulation of Derivatives

- Clinton's Repeal of Glass Steagall

- Clinton's Subprime Mortgage program. Harold Raines, Clintion appointee at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac


Case closed.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on the Tea Party and what will happen with repeal of Obamacare:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/will_anything_less_than_full_r.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 18, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's another twist on the unethical demand that the rich fund the liberal agenda. this is brought to us by the pragmatic one.

Basically the theory is this: since the tax cuts didn't work the way the pragmatic one thought he was told they would, there is no reason to extend them.

So here's what it sounds like: "Well you folks making more than 200K must pay more because a while ago we cut taxes and economic growth didn't occur at a rate that the pragmatic one thinks is acceptable. so give up your hard earned money because you don't know how to use it. turn it over to us liberal/keynesians and we'll show you how to (spend)waste it."

How about the ethics of this? What makes a progressive tax rate morally superior to a simple flat tax system? How much money should the government, at all levels, confiscate from the people?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 18, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I have to look in the mirror.

Writes shrink at 12:51

________________________________


OK, so you were fooled by Obama's lines that he would produce candyland if only the nation voted for a black man.


Instead, the country has been hyjacked by

- a flawed liberal agenda,

- Billions of Dollars have been diverted from stimulus job creation to pathetic pet projects,

- Obama has risked American lives with soft on terrorism polices


- Obama's heath care plan has dragged down the economy and hiring

- Obama's inexperience and lack of qualifications is threatening the country with even more damage to the economy and elsewhere


_________________________


So now you recognize the damage, what are you going to do about it ???

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 18, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

skip, I don't like paying taxes any more than you do and I bet I pay at least as much as you do. I also don't mind having my taxes pay to help people that are less fortunate than I am. Tell us what to cut to balance the budget and let's discuss it. Please be specific.

At the same time, don't tell me that the marginal tax cuts for high earners has or had anything to do with jobs. They simply do not.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can recall, I haven't argued against high marginal rates for our successful citizens based on jobs or any other macro economic issue.

I've simply questioned the morality of it. And its been a good question because the answers have shown me a lot about current thinking.

I am pleased with the national conversation concerning spending thus far. I thought the chair report was a good starter. I think the Ryan plan is a good starter too. I like what I'm hearing about Medicare and Medicaid reform as a platform for compromise going forward.

there are a lot of good ideas out there now but I fear that our politicians and the media would prefer demagoguery to action. The sad fact is that every penny now being spent has a supporter somewhere who will no doubt fight hard to keep the tax payer fundage flowing. This will be a tough battle but we must confront it.

I understand your desire to help others. As a practicing, devout catholic I share that desire. I just don't believe that the government is the proper vehicle for discharging this responsibility. As I noted yesterday I see the ill effects of these no doubt well intentioned efforts every day.

I recognize that we conservatives must demonstrate a willingness to step up to fill some of the voids left by a receding government transfer program. the current motto is: the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. If we shrink the government (yes, it is my goal) then we as citizens must grow. Conservatives are noted for being more generous to charity that "liberals" already. We just need to continue this good effort.

There's a lot to the Ryan plan: here's single topic for discussion:
"There are 49 Federal programs, administered by eight different
agencies, that provide a range of employment and training services."

Surely we can save some dough by streamlining this nightmare.

thanks for the civil reply.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 18, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

skip- what's the moral justification for having 6 homes or a home with 17 bathrooms etc while other have none and/or live in poverty?

Oddly you seem much less concerned with that moral question.

Should morality be the primary guide in setting our tax structure?

As for your quote from the Ryan plan. I completely agree it can be streamlined.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 18, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"...so give up your hard earned money..."

Skip, I've said it before and I'll say it again, you don't know anything about being rich.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 18, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

in response to:
=========
skip- what's the moral justification for having 6 homes or a home with 17 bathrooms etc while other have none and/or live in poverty?

Oddly you seem much less concerned with that moral question.

Should morality be the primary guide in setting our tax structure?

As for your quote from the Ryan plan. I completely agree it can be streamlined.

=================

It is not immoral to have a large house or even a number of large houses. If we believe that private property is the backbone of our national prosperity, what people do with their private property is not the government's business. And it is not your business either. Nor is it mine.

Your question smacks of standard marxist cant: rich people got that way by exploiting others, therefore a large house is immoral. In other words: "anyone in a house with 17 bathrooms achieved their wealth at the expense of others. Therefore having something more than the exploited ones have (as in more than oh say two bathrooms) is immoral"

Or the other marxist cant: at some point you've made enough money, so you'll have to get by with 7 bathrooms so that others can have one each. To have something, anything, while others have less or nothing is immoral. Therefore the government must take your hard earned money and give it away (after keeping a bunch of it for themselves of course)

but the fact is plain, since the 80's more than 90% of America's homes had indoor plumbing. So redistribution of sanitary facilities won't be high on the liberal agenda. That war has already been won.

I keep hammering away at this because the reponses are interesting. The best so far has been the "willie sutton defense". It goes like this: We want to tax the rich at a higher rate because that's where the money is! As a practical matter that at least makes sense. As a moral guideline, not so much.

Shouldn't morality be our primary guide in just about every decision we take? On another thread the concept of justice is bruted about. Is its application variable depending on the political objective to be achieved? Or is there a basic morality against which we should test ourselves?

Ryan's view on Medicare and Medicaid are also thought provoking.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 18, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"It is not immoral to have a large house or even a number of large houses. If we believe that private property is the backbone of our national prosperity, what people do with their private property is not the government's business. And it is not your business either. Nor is it mine."

Ok, so you said it's moral so I guess that settles that. I never said it was my business, I asked if it was moral.


"Your question smacks of standard marxist cant: rich people got that way by exploiting others, therefore a large house is immoral."

I try to engage you with thoughtful honest questions and you respond with this complete and utter nonesense that could hardly be more divorced from reality. I'm happy to discuss other topics with you, see drone attacks, torture, trials of terrorist, but there is no point in continuing this discussion.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 18, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Bush and his right-wing Republican allies intentionally designed the tax cuts to expire in 2010. If they truly wanted them to last longer, they shouldn't have written an expiration date into the law.

Now they're all whining like wussies because the law is going to expire *exactly as they planned it to!*

Hopefully President Obama and Democratic leaders will extend the tax cuts for working class Americans and allow the tax cuts for the super-rich to expire the way Republicans intended.

Posted by: frankcam | November 18, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

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