Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich

I’ve written about tax cuts for the rich in some other posts, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned the aspect of public opinion. I don’t have any commentary. I just wanted to post the data showing a majority Americans want the tax cuts for the rich to end.

Fifty-three percent of Americans agree with Mr. Obama that the tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire, while 38 percent do not, according to the poll, conducted Sept. 10-14.

Two of three Democrats think it is a good idea, and most independents (55 percent) agree. Most Republicans (57 percent) think it is a bad idea.

A small minority of Americans (19 percent) think it is a good idea to let the tax cuts expire for households earning under $250,000 a year – a policy no elected official in Washington is promoting, given the state of the economy.

Meanwhile, one third of Americans believe the Obama administration has raised taxes. Fifty percent think taxes have stayed the same, but only 8 percent think taxes have gone down. In fact, most Americans received a tax break in 2009.

This poll shows the majority of Americans support Obama on the issue of taxes. And yet it also seems to show most Americans are oblivious of the fact that they agree with Obama. They’re unhappy with Obama because they think he has raised taxes, but he hasn’t. This is the product of the right-wing spin machine. Conservatives are good at tellng a narrative so compelling that people either ignore the facts or just assume the facts agree with the narrative.

As for tax cuts for the rich, even the Republican party is closely split with 43% of Republicans wanting them to end. I don’t know of any polling data of Tea Party supporters. They’re more conservative than the average Republican and I’d guess they’re for continuation of tax cuts for the rich because that seems to be the position of Tea Party leaders such as Palin and Beck. However, the Tea Party likes to portray itself as independent. Polling the Tea Party would be a good test of their claim of being independent considering a majority of independents also support the ending of the tax cuts for the rich.

And it’s not just one poll showing this majority. Apparently, a majority of polls show this majority.

* A new National Journal poll finds that 56 percent support ending either all the Bush tax cuts or just the ones for the wealthy, while barely more than a third want to keep them all.

* The new Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of Americans — and a majority of independents — supports either ending all the Bush tax cuts or just the ones for the wealthy.

Indeed, Gallup finds that Obama’s proposal — ending the tax cuts for the wealthy but not for everyone else — has the support of 44 percent, more than any other solution.

* A CNN poll in late August found that a majority, 51 percent, favors ending the tax cuts for the rich, and another 18 percent favor ending them all.

It also found that among independents, 44 percent favor ending the tax cuts for the rich, while another 21 percent favor ending them all. Letting the tax cuts for the rich expire has majority support in all regions of the country except the south.

* A recent CBS poll also found a sizable majority, 56 percent, think the tax cuts for the wealthy should expire.

[…] Here’s another one: A recent Newsweek poll found 52 percent support letting the tax cuts for the rich expire, while only 38 percent support keeping them in place.

The CNN poll found the Republican party was 50/50 split on continuing tax cuts for the rich, but most interestingly Republicans showed the stronger support than even Democrats in ending all tax cuts. So, Republican voters are being true to their fiscal conservative ideology while the Republican leadership is being hypocritical and not representing those who voted them into office.

Only half of all Republicans and self-identified conservatives favor extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a new public opinion poll shows. Fewer say they favor extending the Bush tax cuts just for those making less than $250,000 a year.

A study released by CNN on Friday suggests that Republicans face a curious public opinion deficit in their efforts to keep tax rates at current levels for income groups across the board. The party’s base isn’t entirely sold on keeping the rates in place. But they also don’t favor raising them on the wealthy and no one else.

Top officials in the GOP have said they will fight the president’s proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for the lower and middle classes while allowing those for the wealthy to expire. But few voting blocs appear to back that approach.

According to the survey, only 26 percent of self-identified moderates back extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Only nine percent of liberals said the same thing. Conventional wisdom would hold that Republicans would be the chief proponents of the proposal. But only 50 percent of conservative respondents said they want tax rates for the wealthy kept in place — the same percentage of Republicans support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts.

As for extending the tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year, 69 percent of liberals support that approach, 53 percent of moderates, and only 36 percent of conservatives.

Meanwhile, every single age group polled by CNN favored extending tax cuts for just the lower brackets over extending them for all groups (including the wealthy). So too did respondents from every single region of the country.

I’m not sure what all of this means. Tax cuts used to be popular. Does this represent a shift? Even Tea Party supporters who are the most right-wing of the American public have grown critical of the Republican leadership and yet the Republicans in Washington keep pushing the unpopular tax cuts for the rich. Will this issue be a turning point in public opinion? Will the GOP be forced to return to the fiscal conservatism last seen during Eisenhower’s administration?

Previous posts with data, commentary or videos related to tax cuts for the rich:

MSNBC w/ Cenk: Reich – Middle Class & Wages

Cenk Uygur on Tax Cuts for the Rich

Reaganomics & Tax Cuts for the Rich

National Debt, Starve the Beast, & Wealth Disparity

Failure of Conservative Morality in Politics

Liberals are the New Fiscal Conservatives

32 thoughts on “Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich

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  2. The Tea Party is not an independent body for sure. It has been controlled by special interests like the Koch brothers for pretty much since the popularisation of the movement.

    The problem is that the oligarchs are in control.

    • Yep. There are some minor Tea Party groups that are independent and some individual members who think independently. But the movement overall is bought by big money, especially in terms of the politicians who identify as Tea Party leaders.

      And, yep, the oligarchs are in control. Lot is shifting, though. I sometimes get the sense that no one is steering the ship. Just drifting along with inertia because how massive the ship is. But drifting where?

  3. Drifting where the ultra rich want it to go. Which is not a good thing because that is a one way trip to a Banana Republic.

    They will probably take their beliefs with them to their death beds I am afraid.

    The implication here is that half of the political right is either very rich or simply dumb in being led by the rich. There’s no other way to put it. If you are not 1% and voting for Republicans, you are probably voting against your own interest. A case could be made maybe the top 5%, but even that’s open to debate.

    • I’m drawn to take it even further. If you are not 1% and are voting for either of the main parties, you aren’t exactly voting for your own interest.

      Admittedly, I did vote for Obama the second time. But I only did so because the Republicans pissed me off so much, with their blatantly anti-democratic tactics. I was voting against the Republicans, not for Obama. On the other hand, I did sort of want Obama to win, simply so that Democrats could never blame his failure on a lack of a second term. That was the first time and likely the last time I’ll vote for a Democratic president.

      If Americans gave a flying fuck about democracy, liberty, and freedom, they would vote for third parties en masse and simply eliminate the two main parties from power. Voting for Democrats is simply voting for a slow decline, which isn’t necessarily a better deal. I’d rather quicken the decline and get on with it. Only after things get severely fucked up will we Americans have the collective will to respond.

  4. If a candidate like Obama does something – it is that he has managed to fool the left. He managed to fool the world if you think about it. He was always Wall Street’s man. Another Democrat could pull that off again.

    On the other hand, if the Republicans do win, it is likely to be either another Mitt Romney or some Tea Party like candidate like Joni Ernst. That will be a one way ticket to problems as you note. If it ends up being like another McCain, well get ready for the likelihood a ramping up of the War on Terror.

    There seems to be an overall lack of civic engagement in the Anglo nations. It’s not just the propaganda – I think it’s built into the culture of society.

  5. I would assume some type of inertia built into the culture. There are similar trends in the UK, Canada, and Australia as well.

    • Yeah. But there is always a factor of inertia in cultures. That has never stopped radical reforms, revolutions, etc from happening. It can delay them, though. Cultures in the past were even more resistant to change than cultures are today, and yet even they could not resist the forces of change. I’m wondering if there is anything unique about where we are at.

  6. Probably a common heritage in the past.

    It seems that it has survived for hundreds of years. Even large changes from immigration, industrialization, and so forth don’t seem to change the common heritage.

    • That is always true.

      The British and French Empires existed for centuries before the revolutions. Those societies were experiencing major changes over those centuries prior to the violent events forced more systemic and dramatic changes.

      Large-scale societal change rarely if ever come easy and quickly. Also, few ever see what is coming in advance. Nothing seems like it can change, until it does.

      Still, I wonder if there is anything different now. The world is certaintly a different place in many ways, but the same basic social dynamics exist as they’ve always existed. I just wonder.

      The main differences now are technological. Of those differences, if there is a game-changer, it might be our present diverse media. However, even if that is the case, in what way might it be a game-changer. Obviously, propaganda is more advanced than ever before, but freedom of speech is more widely spread than ever before.

      So, what does it all add up to? That is where the issue of culture commes up. To speak of culture is to refer to deeper patterns and issues.

    • The thing about so many changes right now is that they are global. The same basic kinds of technology and media are availlable to most people in most countries. Even so, there is a great variety in how all of this is implemented and used, both by governments and in the private sphere.

      Consider a typical comparison such as China and the US. They are two different kinds of cultures with two different kinds but equally effective propaganda systems. Actually, the American propaganda system probably is more effective, both on the local citizenry and in its reach into other societies.

      Culture is important. It determines when change is possible, how change is possible, and what kinds of change is possible.

    • I see the “lesser evil” problem as part of the increasingly advanced propaganda system. As minorities and women gained the vote, the ruling elite had to find new ways to keep the population in line. The team sports of the two parties has for this reason become more central, where both parties are always arguing they are the lesser evil.

      Yeah, Levine is kinda optimistic. His conclusion is a bit amusing.

      “Ironically, the Southern Strategy worked so well for Republicans that it leaves Democrats with little choice but to do the right thing — at least in areas where public opinion and GOP politics are glaringly and irreconcilably at odds.”

      Democrats don’t have a guiding vision. For decades, they were pulled right. But because of the right-wing madness of the GOP, they migt find the response of public opinion pushing them left. Democrats don’t give a fuck about principles. They’ll just go in the direction they think will let them win elections.

      Sure, write an email whenever you want.

    • That is a hard hitting piece. It is a tour de force of despair. But it is the truth that people need to hear. The greatest of hopelessness is not the despair itself but the refusal to face it. Whatever hope we may have will inevitably take us straight through that dark hell.

      I still might take it further. The US isn’t a traditional empire. Such things no longer exist.

      At this point, I don’t think it can just be blamed on the US political elite or America in general. The entire population of the world is complicit, even if indirectly. No one can escape responsibility for allowing the world to get this way. The US rules only to the extent that it represents the interests and serves the power of a global ruling elite.

      The world is ruled by no national or imperial ruling elite. All of the ultimate ruling elites at present are transnational, just as are all of the most major corporations. The US government is the puppet state for this global hegemony, but it really has nothing to do with America and Americans at this point.

      Voting in any country will not be able to deal with this problem, lesser evil or not. A global revolution will be required, for failing that it will only get worse than the darkest dystopia envisioned in literature.

  7. It would seem that the political right is in control of a global governing class. Of course there are conspiracy theories about this. The Illuminati, the Bilderberg, and a few other groups. But I suspect that society is indeed split up with the ruling classes and the rest.

    The implications for this are troubling. Equally disturbing is the fact that true democracy may be a simply unachievable ideal.

    Levine is am interesting writer, he tells it like it is. The question is what to do about the challenges of society.

    • I’m quite familiar with the wide variety of conspiracy theories. I developed much of my early thinking on the alternative sphere that included such things, from Robert Anton Wilson to Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM. It was only later on, with the rise of the Bush II regime, that I became more seriously concerned with politics proper.

      Still, I’ve never been much of a conspiracy theorist. They interest me because there is some truth to them, but I think they miss some deeper systemic issues. I’ve come to see conspiracies as unnecessary for the implementation of concentrated wealth and power.

      That has become even more apparent to me as I’ve studied racial bias and the racial order. A social system, once put into place, can be largely self-sustaining. That is what many people don’t get.

      This is possible because humans are naturally social animals. Two people of the same demographic, whether white or wealthy, don’t have to conspire. They simply share the same life experiences, worldview, and social circles. They live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same churches, shop at the same stores, send their kids to the same schools, etc.

      This social aspect for the wealthy has increasingly become global. The super rich vacation in the same places and have their vacation homes in the same places. They go to the same international meetings, conferences, and various other gatherings of the rich and powerful. They are on the same corporate boards and donate money to the same lobbying groups.

      On and on.

      It is natural for them to share similar interests and agends. Of course, they will talk behind closed doors, at their offices, at private parties, etc. But they don’t need to plan out specific conspiracies.They just have to be on the same page, seeing the world the same way, and thinking the same way.

      Nonetheless, that isn’t to deny actual conspiracies do exist. It just demonstrates that they aren’t necessary. Nor do they need to be central to the entire global social order. If anything, the conspiracies would help divide the global ruling elite, rather than unite them. The conspiracies are how different groups of elites form alliances, compete, and vie for power.

      The global ruling elite is real, but it probably isn’t a fully unified force. My point is that its allegiances are no longer national, or that such local allegiances are secondary and for the sake of convenience. Allegiances as such are likely more insubstantial and shifting, just temporary alliances based on the demands of realpolitik.

      Much of it is probably more informal and personal. The social sphere of everyday relationships would be the most influential. But one does wonder about the rising power of secretive organizations, especially those that are in a weird liminal state between public and private, such as front corporations for the CIA and military contractors.

      In recent years, I’ve come to suspect that elected officials, including presidents, have a lot less power than most would assume. Elected officials come and go, but non-elected officials (generals, heads of agencies, etc) can remain in place for decades and usually act behind the scenes. Then there are those with great power who aren’t even government officials at all.

      Who really holds the power and pulls the strings? If we don’t know that, how are we supposed to seek change? I don’t know if it is the political right who ultimately controls this global social order and power strcture, but it sure doesn’t seem like communism. I don’t know what to call it. Certainly, a faux laissez faire capitalism is a central mechanism of control.

      The problem we face is that most people on this planet are utterly clueless. It isn’t just the ruling elite that is global but also the propaganda system. The main purveyor of this are the transnational media conglomerates that directly own and operate most of the media outlets in the world. If I was going to try to figure out who has the most central global power, I’d look at the names of the owners, shareholders, and CEOs of media big biz (and the family, friends, and associates directly connected to these people).

      I’m sure someone has already mapped out all of these kinds of connections. But how does one prove the power and influence these people have?

    • Conspiracy theorists make one thing clear, at least to my mind. I’d argue those with power don’t think that way. That is how those without power assume power operates, but it isn’t the way power operates when you are born into it.

      Most of the wealthy and powerful are born into wealth and power. It is what they’ve always known. In many cases, their families have had wealth and power for generations or even centuries. These families mostly marry among themselves.

      They take wealth and power as a privilege. They take it for granted as the social norm of their entire existence. Few of them probably ever give it much thought. It’s just the way it is. All of their lives are about wealth and power. It is the world they were born into and raised in. All of their family and closest friends are like them and share that world with them.

      Their world is hermetically sealed. They are disconnected from the lives of everyone else. No part of their experience ever touches very far upon the normal world the rest of us live in.

      In their own way, these people are more clueless and brainwashed than the average person. The reality tunnel they live in is absolute. They are carefully groomed for positions of power. Their minds are shaped from a young age. They are the first and primary victims of the propaganda system, for they are true believers as no one else could ever be.

      This is hard for those outside of that world to comprehend. Most of us don’t live such insular lives. The closest equivalent would be those raised in cults or those homeschooled in isolated homes. It truly is a cult of power. Their lives are dominated by the machinations of wealth and power.

      So it seems to me, but what do I know. Most conspiracy theories seem too simplistic and blatant. I just doubt that is how power actually operates behind the scenes.

      I don’t think the rich and powerful are any different than anyone else. All that is different is the environments in which they live. We are all shaped by our environments.

      I’ve had a thought along these lines. What if the environments of power and wealth were altered? I’ve specifically thought about this with the younger generations who grow up using the internet. It is the first generation of elite who have access to interact with normal people. The internet potentially creates a rupture between social worlds that have traditionally been kept far apart.

      Technology has the potential to create immense change for everyone, the ruling elite included. That is an intriguing prospect.

  8. It depends on how it is used. Technology itself is neutral. But it unleashes the potential for both good and bad.

    I think that even without any of the conspiracy theories being true, the prospects that society is governed by a group that is leading at the expense of society is frightening, but very probable indeed.

    Elected officials no doubt hold a lot less power than we think. The very wealthy hold the strings as do the various special interests. There’s no need for conspiracy theories there.

    Most politicians in the US spend time fundraising. That is enough to explain their true motives. Who controls the gold makes the rules, as is typical.

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