Two Polls Confirm That People Want Tax Hikes in a Debt Deal, As if That Matters

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 14 2011 9:07 AM

Two Polls Confirm That People Want Tax Hikes in a Debt Deal, As if That Matters

Exhibit A: Gallup finds that only 20 percent of Americans want the debt limit deal to include only spending cuts, with no tax hikes.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.

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Exhibit B: Gallup also finds that only 26 percent of Republicans -- Republicans! -- feel that way.

Exhibit C: Quinnipiac finds that only 25 percent of voters, albeit 48 percent of Republicans, believe the deal should include "include only spending cuts," while most believe it should "include an increase in taxes for the wealthy and corporations." The adherents of the latter position include 66 percent of independents and 67 percent of all voters.

And here's the beautiful trap that Democrats find themselves in. As it was in 2001, as it was at the end of 2010, higher tax rates on the rich and fewer loopholes for the advantaged (as opposed to tax giveaways for lower-income voters) are very popular. But the opposition party is resolutely against any tax cuts, ever. That doesn't just make it politically difficult to raise taxes. It shifts the reality in D.C. and the punditocracy. In polls, the Bernie Sanders position of a deal that's 50 percent tax hikes and 50 percent cuts is the most popular option -- 32 percent support in Gallup. In Washington, it's what the crazy socialist thinks -- the rest of us agree that you can't raise taxes.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.