Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama's tax proposal not "playing to base"

In the last couple weeks, President Obama has advocated plans to pay for his jobs bill and to pay down the deficit by raising taxes on the rich. Many in the media have interpreted this to be Obama "playing to his base". The New York Times' David Brooks laments that Obama's proposal will "fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives." The theory goes that Progressives are upset over not getting as much as they wanted during Obama's administration, and he's trying to make them happy by waging class warfare, moderates be damned.

It would seem that raising taxes on the wealthy is the sort of thing that would only appeal to pinko-liberal commies like me, and that by advocating tax increases for the rich, Obama is abandoning his long record of compromise and seeking the center (working with Republicans to cut spending, pushing for "grand bargain" with Boehner, not advocating a public option, agreeing to extend Bush's tax cuts, etc).

However, this is clearly not the case, based on recent polling (New York Times (.pdf), Washington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal (.pdf), Gallup). Depending on how the question is asked, between 54% and 80% of moderates and independents favor these tax increases.

Obama's electoral strategy, as previously discussed, will likely depend on portraying himself as the "adult in the room" trying to govern the nation while Republicans refuse to compromise. Republicans would be helped by stories of Obama playing to his base. But the numbers show that's not what he's doing.


Anonymous said...

Why does being a play for moderates prohibit it from also being a play to his base?

PoliticalDoctor said...

The articles from The Hill and David Brooks state that Obama's plan would not be attractive to moderates, which is just not true. If something is overwhelmingly popular with everyone who's not a fairly-hardcore conservative, it doesn't make sense to say, as the articles do, that he's abandoning the middle and going hard left.