When Barack Obama proposed once again to hike taxes on people earning at or above $250,000, he insisted that polls showed that the American people agreed with him. It was an odd defense, seeing as how his own party refused to push that proposal last year in the Senate, which it controls, but Obama has forced them back into a tough position on the tax hike. Outgoing Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced Thursday that he would oppose it, joining Joe Lieberman and putting Harry Reid in a tough spot:
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said Thursday he’s opposed to President Barack Obama’s plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to household income under $250,000 for one year, joining Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as two members of the 53-member Senate Democratic Caucus who plan to vote against the plan.
“That’s a no,” Webb told Reuters when asked if he’d vote for the plan.
Webb has called for taxes to be increased on dividends and capital gains instead, and his spokesman, Will Jenkins, told POLITICO: “Sen. Webb has consistently stated that he opposes raising taxes on ordinary earned income.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House now cannot risk any more defections if they want to show they have majority support in the Senate.
A new poll from Marist and McClatchy make the position of Reid and Obama even tougher. Contrary to Obama’s claim, a majority of registered voters want all of the current tax rates extended, even those of the highest earners:
A majority of Americans want the Bush tax cuts extended for everyone, despite a strong push by President Barack Obama to eliminate them on higher incomes, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
The poll found 52 percent of registered voters saying they want all the tax cuts extended, including the tax cuts for incomes above $250,000, while 43 percent want the cuts extended just for incomes below that threshhold [sic].
The news gets worse for Obama in the demographics, even if McClatchy has a problem with reporting on the issue:
Young voters ages 18-29 favored tax cuts for everyone by a margin of 69-29, the largest margin of any age group.
Latinos favored tax cuts for all incomes by 62 percent to 36 percent. Whites supported tax cuts for every income by 50 percent to 44 percent. African-Americans split, 48 percent for limiting the tax cuts to incomes below $250,000 and 47 percent for extending them to all incomes.
And those making less than $50,000 supported tax cuts for all incomes by 53 percent to 41 percent.
It’s not a tax cut. The cut occurred nine years ago. These are the current tax rates. The question isn’t whether to cut taxes, it’s whether they should be raised, and on whom. Even worse, the pollster asked the question using the phrase “extending the tax cuts” — and still ended up with majorities across a wide range of demographics supporting an extension for all earners.
Nor are those the only demos in which it becomes clear that Obama’s holding the more extreme position and not his opponents. A majority of independents oppose raising taxes on high-end earners, 53/41. More than a third of Obama supporters (37%), and forty percent of Democrats overall, want the current rates to remain in place. A narrow plurality of women want them left in place, 49/44.
By the way, this isn’t exactly a polling type that’s unfriendly to Obama, either. It samples registered voters rather than likely voters, which should make this a little more sympathetic to liberal policies. The D/R/I is 36/29/34, which undersamples Republicans by at least six points. None of this helps Obama on this issue.
With that in mind, there’s even more bad news in this poll for Obama. His favorability numbers, which some suggested might be his line of defense, have fallen below 50% into a 49/46 virtual wash. Mitt Romney’s is 46/42, which means he might have more upside; voters already know Obama well enough after four years in office. Obama also only gets a 47/47 on job approval despite the Democratic tilt, and he’s slightly underwater among independents, 44/47. He’s stuck in a virtual tie with Romney 48/46, but losing among independents by four, 44/48. Interestingly, his support among African-American voters is only 78/15 — perhaps a result of his inexplicable decision to snub the NAACP convention this year.