How many times have we featured some Republican politician or pundit saying that extending the Bush tax cuts is the answer to all our economic woes? Turns out, the American people really aren't buying the biggest gun in the Republican armory:
A majority of Americans favor letting the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration expire for the wealthy. While 37% support keeping the tax cuts for all Americans, 44% want them extended only for those making less than $250,000 and 15% think they should expire for all taxpayers.
These results are based on an Aug. 27-30 USA Today/Gallup poll. The fate of the 2001 and 2003 federal income tax cuts that were a centerpiece of Bush administration policy could be a significant campaign issue this fall. The tax cuts are set to expire after this year unless Congress votes to extend them. Congress plans to take up the issue next week when it returns to session.[..]
With about one in three Americans, including a minority of independents and Democrats, in favor of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers, Democrats may not be putting themselves at great political risk by allowing the tax cuts to expire for wealthy Americans. In fact, the middle ground of extending tax cuts for low- and middle-income Americans but allowing them to expire for wealthy Americans -- the Democrats' most likely proposal -- is the specific option the public prefers most.Gallup has typically found Americans unsympathetic to the argument that upper-income Americans are overtaxed. They generally believe upper-income Americans pay too little in taxes and favor higher taxes on wealthy Americans as a means to fund government programs, such as Social Security.
I find much to be optimistic about this poll. And it's not the only one with these result, in fact, Greg Sargent lists five polls, all with similar results. In tough economic times, I think it's human nature to wish to hold on to every penny, and the Republicans have certainly been effective at obfuscating that this expiration applies only to the very wealthy among us and not to 95% of the American people. In fact, there's a credible argument to be made that the Republicans are so out of touch with what's happening with Americans right now that they think people who make $250,000/year are the middle class:
At a public forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in Crowley, Louisiana yesterday, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attacked his Democratic opponent Charlie Melancon for saying people in the top income bracket should pay higher taxes. But in doing so he implied that "virtually everybody" in attendance would see their taxes raised.
"I hate to tell you, by Washington's definitions that [Melancon]'s using, virtually everybody in this audience is the wealthy."
The fact that few are falling in with the Republican be-all-end-all solution of tax cuts makes me wonder truly what kind of traction they have going into the mid-terms. And whether the Democratic Party realizes they have an issue that they are winning:
Amid a sea of bad polling news, here is an issue where the public is clearly on Dems' side. And the above polling suggests that the public already has a pretty firm grasp on the "nuance" of this debate. This, of all things, is not an issue where Dems should conclude in advance -- as they often do -- that once Republicans go on the attack, it's game over and Dems can't possibly win the argument.