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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rejecting Taxes

Ron Brownstein writes at National Journal:

Not only Obama, but each Democratic presidential nominee since 2000 has run better among whites with college degrees than those without. A class-warrior message against Romney would further unnerve Democratic centrists who already worry that Obama’s amped-up populism won’t attract more blue-collar whites but will estrange the white-collar whites otherwise open to him. By making higher taxes on the wealthy “such a big part of his solution, he is in fact just splitting his coalition,” says Mark Penn, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief 2008 strategist.

So far, the president’s team says that his call for the wealthy to pay more isn’t antagonizing the upper-middle class. Penn, though, worries that ultimately “the people who vote on taxes are the people who pay them.” Obama’s sharpening populism reaches back to his party’s traditions. Whether it can galvanize his party’s modern electoral coalition remains to be proven.

In another article, Brownstein reports that Democratic pollster Geoff Garin sees taxes as a winner:

Garin is right that overall, the idea of imposing a surtax on millionaires to fund Obama's job creation plan - as Senate Democrats and the White House have now proposed - is overwhelmingly popular: over two-thirds of adults backed it in an early October Congressional Connection survey. In a late September survey, 53 percent of adults said they supported Obama's proposal to limit tax deductions for families earning $250,000 or more; 56 percent supported his idea of raising taxes on the profits earned by private equity, hedge funds and other investment firms; and a slimmer 49 percent to 44 percent plurality backed his call to end the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush for those earning at least $250,000.

But an analysis of the results done by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which conducts the poll, found that although those ideas retain majority support among whites earning above $75,000 annually, those more affluent Americans are, not entirely surprisingly, less enthusiastic about them than whites earning less. That could provide openings for Republican counter-arguments.

Election returns reinforce the latter point. Bloomberg reports:

Colorado voters by a margin of almost 2-to-1 defeated a citizen initiative to increase taxes for public education that would have raised $2.9 billion.

Proposition 103, the only statewide tax vote in the U.S. this election season, failed 64-36 percent with 84 percent of the projected vote counted, the Associated Press said today.

The rejection continued a nationwide trend against new taxes. In November 2010, Washington voters spurned an income tax on top earners and dropped levies on candy, bottled water and carbonated beverages. The last successful statewide voter initiative to increase taxes was in 2006 in South Dakota.

“One of the concerns with Prop 103 was that it was a grassroots movement, done on a low budget with not a lot of advertising,” said Mike Wetzel, a spokesman for the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. The organization endorsed the measure. He spoke in an interview before the results of yesterday’s balloting were known.