2. It’s full of tax hikes. The conventional wisdom on these tax hikes is that they are broadly popular. All but the scrooges among us favor increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires to fix our crumbling infrastructure and keep teachers in schools, right? I mean, goodness gracious, Warren Buffett pays a higher rate than his secretary! Can’t we fix that?! (Memo to Mr. Buffett: the Treasury Department takes donations.)
But if this narrative really holds true, why didn’t Democrats increase taxes on the wealthy at any point during the two years they controlled the Congress?
The answer has to do with framing the tax issue for the electorate. When media’s pollsters frame the tax cut question in terms favorable to the Democratic party – e.g. by referencing the wealthy – it polls very well. But that is not the frame the GOP will use during the electoral campaign. Republicans will point to the aggregate amount of taxes – the shock value of “half a trillion in new taxes” can’t be underestimated – and they will mention the burden on small businesses…
Obama is playing right into the stereotype of Democrats – that of a tax and spend liberal. Huge grants for infrastructure and state government financed by an enormous tax hike in the middle of a recession? The 2012 campaign ads write themselves! It’s almost as if the GOP has a mole in the White House secretly giving the president terrible advice.