One of the most popular items among proposals that sought to trim $3 trillion off the federal deficit while kick-starting the economy was the so-called Buffett Rule, which aimed to guarantee millionaires and billionaires paid taxes at least at the same rate as everyone else.
A new Gallup poll released Tuesday found that 66% of respondents favored the President's plan to raise taxes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year, in line with nearly two dozen previous polls that found most Americans wanted the rich to pay their fair share to reduce the nation's debts or shore up entitlements. Another 32% of respondents turned out to be Republicans.
Even more popular was Obama's proposal to increase taxes on corporations by closing loopholes. 70% favored that idea, while 26% were opposed. A chunk of Republicans apparently didn't understand the question, probably because they couldn't imagine anyone asking whether corporate loopholes should be closed. It was GOP intransigence on adjusting the depreciation rate for corporate jets - not eliminating the deduction for corporate jets, as any sane person would demand, but just making it take longer to write them off - that scuttled deficit reduction talks during the debt ceiling hostage crisis.
Those polled favored five of six other Obama proposals:
- Tax cuts for small businesses, including hiring incentives, was favored 85% to 13%.
- Providing additional funds to hire teachers, cops and firefighters was favored 75% to 25%.
- Tax breaks for hiring those unemployed longer than six months was favored 73% to 26%.
- Additional funding for public works projects, including fixing up 30,000 schools, was favored 72% to 27%.
- Extending unemployment insurance benefits was favored 56% to 41%.
Even Republicans among the respondents favored five of the eight proposals, rejecting only the tax hikes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year; the extension of unemployment benefits; and reducing Social Security taxes.
65% of those polled figured Obama's jobs plan would help create more jobs at least a little, including 27% who believed it would help a lot. 60% felt Obama's jobs plan would help the economy at least a little, including 23% who felt it would help a lot.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was exasperated. "Unfortunately, what we've seen now is the president has made a decision that he's going to go into full campaign mode now, 14 months before the election," he sputtered Wednesday as a reporter for the Hill scribbled down his whining.
God forbid the President of the United States advocate the wishes of the American people.
The Politico reported the so-called moderate intelligentsia was up in arms as well, claiming Obama had abandoned his centrist position and caved in to the left. First off, 'moderate intelligensia' was an oxymoron, and secondly, Obama hadn't come anywhere near, let alone caved in to, the left.
In fact, in a right-of-center nation, Obama was clearly espousing a right-of-center position, thus nailing the two-thirds nodding thoughtfully. The so-called moderate intelligentsia and their self-styled centrism appeared actually to be somewhere to the right of Louis XVI, who himself was to the right of Louis XIV. To be precise, the so-called moderate intelligentsia appeared more like the fawning courtiers brown-nosing and toadying up to Louis XVI. Their concept of centrism appeared to consist of protesting symbolically before caving in to whoever had 85% of all the wealth, then letting them add another hundred rooms and six hundred fountains to their Versailles.'
Republicans, meanwhile, appeared politically somewhere between Genghis and Kublai Khan.
While Obama's proposals fell far short of doing all the right things in all the right ways, he at least took a couple baby steps in the right direction. Although Obama failed to raise taxes on the rich enough to pay off everything that needed paying off, and failed to cut the unconscionably high taxes on the poor and middle classes (see sidebar), he at least acknowledged the rich ought to pay at least a little more. Although Obama failed to put forth plans to fix the $2 trillion in infrastructure needing repairs, or even to plug the $1 trillion hole in the nation's economy, he at least tried to get some potholes filled and get a few classrooms brought up to code. Although Obama failed to call for the kind of revenue recirculation and spending the nation really needed to haul it out of the doldrums, he at least proposed a few measures incenting business to hire a few more unemployed.
You can't get much more right-of-center than that.
The Christian Science Monitor's calculator-and-spreadsheet gang figured out that Obama's plan didn't reduce the deficit by as much as the President claimed, as the $1.6 trillion in additional revenue the Buffett Rule and other tax hikes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year was actually being counted after renewing all the Bush tax cuts as well as Alternative Minimum Tax relief, which were both deficit-financed.
Doing nothing and just letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012 would have reduced the deficit more.
However, the CSM figured it was a darned sight better than anything Republicans wanted, which was more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for the very, very rich paid for by exterminating all Americans through dismantling health care (axing Medicare, Medicaid, and, eventually, employer-provided insurance, because, why the heck should they bother?), eliminating old age pensions (raiding Social Security and anything a union or employer might provide, because why shouldn't the rich plunder anything they could plunder?), and reducing the nation to a toxic wasteland (nixing the EPA and abolishing cumbersome "job-destroying" regulations).
Republicans still weren't going to pass anything the President proposed anyway, unless the President was ready to be "serious" by Republican standards, which meant lavishing more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies on the very, very rich, allowing them to plunder Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and requiring everyone to burn as much fossil fuel as inefficiently as possible.
Thus, so long as Republicans weren't going to allow the President do anything anyway, Obama might as well go into full campaign mode. As the real right-of-center candidate.