Obama Is Caving On Income Tax Rates Even As The Public Supports Him

Barack Obama

Photo: AP

President Barack Obama’s move toward House Speaker John Boehner on tax hikes is a rather surprising concession, considering the level of public support his previous plan, even among Republicans.Two new polls out Tuesday — one from CBS and one from Washington Post-ABC News — show that even Republicans are moving toward supporting Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on incomes above $250,000. 

But the Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 74 per cent of all adults — and 51 per cent of Republicans — would “find acceptable” a plan to increase taxes on incomes above $250,000. Similarly, the CBS poll found that 69 per cent “favour” such a plan — including the same 51 per cent of Republicans. 

On Monday, multiple reports said that Obama had proposed a new plan to Boehner that raised the tax-hike threshold to incomes above $400,000. 

Obama’s new plan includes $1.2 trillion in increased revenue — down from an initial $1.6 trillion — and $1.22 trillion in reduced spending. 

According to the polls, Obama continues to hold a lot of leverage with the public: 

  • By a 47-31 margin in the WaPo poll, more Americans said they would blame House Republicans than the president if a deal is not reached.
  • By a 48-45 margin in the CBS poll, those surveyed oppose “reducing government programs” that affect people like them. 
  • In the WaPo survey, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed oppose cuts to Medicaid, raising the Medicare eligibility age, and changing the way Social Security benefits are allocated.

All this makes Obama’s concessions on taxes and Social Security rather surprising — the public lines up with him on each issue, and his approval ratings far outpace House Republicans and Boehner. That can explain why some on the left, including economist Robert Reich, are peeved.

But the public also wants compromise on any fiscal-cliff deal. In the WaPo survey, 56 per cent of respondents said Obama should compromise in any deal. Only 34 per cent said he has a “mandate to carry out his agenda.”

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