Tax the Rich: Popular in Theory, Not Practice
Raising taxes on the rich is a popular idea, always performing well when people are polled about it. So why is it so hard to actually put into practice? Because most people don’t understand what’s actually going on, and the Republicans are to blame for that, explains Steve Kornacki on Salon.
For example: President Clinton campaigned on the idea of raising taxes for the nation’s highest earners, with much success. But when he actually put the idea into practice, the voters who previously thought it was a great idea railed against it. Why? Because the GOP was calling it “the largest tax increase in history,” thus convincing Americans that taxes were being raised for everyone—not just the top 2%.
Right now, voters seem to be behind President Obama’s plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for families making more than $250,000 a year. But as we’ve seen with Clinton and in other situations, he could lose that support when he actually puts his idea into practice, because the GOP likes to pitch “itself as the protector of all taxpayers, even (or especially) those in the middle class,” Kornacki writes. “Thus, when Democrats seek to raise rates on the rich, Republicans respond by stoking fears of the non-rich that they’re the ones who are really getting robbed.” Yes, it’s a smart move by Obama to let the tax cuts expire for the wealthiest members of society—but that doesn’t necessarily mean “the public will have his back.”