Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Politically Popular

Are the tax cuts for the rich:

Hoping to build support for the tax-cut deal that the president reached with Congressional Republicans, the White House has begun pressing Hill Democrats with polling data showing that extending the tax rates for the rich is politically popular.

A Senate aide sent over a copy of the email that an administration aide sent to offices on Wednesday morning. In it, the aide touts Gallup polling data showing that "Two-thirds of Americans (66%) favor extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts for all Americans for two years, and an identical number support extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed."
Mmm. Except that Gallup poll (click on the full questions) didn't have a question about how many Americans would favor extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts EXCEPT for the top two percent of earners. The implicit alternative to the question they actually asked is that all tax cuts would otherwise be rescinded. That's the basis for understanding the answers: The majority of respondents prefer to have all tax cuts kept if the alternative is that none of them will be.

As the Huffington Post article points out, other surveys show clear preference for the option omitted in the Gallup poll:

Americans don't approve of keeping the breaks for upper-income taxpayers that are part of the deal President Barack Obama brokered with congressional Republicans, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted before, during and after the tax negotiations, shows that only a third of Americans support keeping the lower rates for the highest earners. Even among backers of the cuts for the wealthy, fewer than half say they should be made permanent.