Liberals Seize on New Poll: Americans Want to Tax the Rich

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Democrats look with dread toward the next session of Congress--Republicans will take control of the House, and some incoming committee chairs are already promising things will get ugly. But despite the carnage of the midterm elections, liberals can console themselves with one thing: Voters still hate the rich--that, at least, is what a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll says.

Republicans say that after last fall's historic election, they have a mandate to balance the federal budget, by trimming social programs and cutting wasteful spending. But voters, apparently, have a different idea for bringing controlling the debt. The poll shows that a solid majority of respondents--61 percent--would raise taxes on the wealthy as the "first step" in balancing the budget. Even a plurality--46 percent--of people making more than $100,000 a year agree. Among all respondents, soaking the rich is followed by cutting defense spending (20 percent), cutting Medicare (4 percent), and cutting Social Security (3 percent) as the best ways to begin tackling the country's budget problem.

Naturally, liberal bloggers are jumping on these numbers.

  • A Galling Lack of Gratitude, Wonkette's Jack Stuef jokes. "Don’t those ingrates know how much they owe the kind wealth-inheritors of this country? Though actually, the poll is flawed, as it makes Americans choose from things that would actually cut the deficit. ... Obviously, this isn't fair, because everyone knows the best way to cut the deficit is to only cut things that would have relatively no effect on the deficit, like earmarks. 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair are so out of touch. Nobody is really in favor of actual solutions to our financial problems."
  • Who Has the Mandate Now, Son? Detroit News' Libby Spencer asks. "The Republicans keep claiming they have a mandate from the last election but their primary focus on more and bigger tax breaks for the very rich doesn't seem to be resonating out there in Main Street America."
  • Balancing the Budget Comes at a Cost, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen argues. "So, the single most popular idea for reducing the deficit is the one idea Republicans will fight the hardest to defeat. Indeed, the political dynamic is almost amusing. The conversation seems to go something like this," he says:
GOP: We must prioritize deficit reduction immediately, and all options must be on the table.

Everyone else: OK, how about a slight increase in the top marginal rate for the wealthy? It won't hurt the economy; it will lower the deficit; and the idea enjoys broad national support.

GOP: We didn't mean "all" options must be on the table.
  • We'll Know What to Do If America Reaches 'Near Insolvency,' Jonathan Chait writes at The New Republic. "Imposing any kind of political pain may be unpopular, but the right's preferred fiscal adjustment is vastly less popular than the left's."
  • Now's the GOP's Chance, Alan Colmes writes at Liberaland. "For two years we've heard from Republicans that Democrats don't listen to the American people. Will the newly-empowered Republicans do that?"

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