By a significant majority, according to a new poll, Americans have bought the idea that President Obama has been selling for months—namely, that raising taxes on Americans with incomes over $250,000 will help the economy and make the tax system more fair.
According to the poll by the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of Americans believe raising taxes on those over $250,000 will help the economy, while 22 percent believe it will hurt the economy. The remainder believe the hikes would have no impact.
As for the question of fairness, something the president has been pushing hard while Republicans charge that he is trying to create class warfare, 44 percent of the poll respondents believe tax hikes on the wealthy would make the system more fair while 21 percent they would make the system less fair.
While the responses do tend to break along party lines, a significant number of those who identify themselves as Republicans and as independents side with the president on this question.
Among Democrats, 64 percent say the hike would help the economy and 11 percent say it would hurt. Among Republicans, 27 say it will help the economy while 41 percent say it will hurt. Among both groups, about 25 percent say it will make no difference.
Fifty-five percent of Republicans believe tax hikes would either make the system more fair or have no impact, compared with 36 percent who believe it will become less fair, the poll, released Monday, showed. Sixty-five percent of Democrats say the system would be fairer, and 10 percent say it would be less fair.
This is an explosive number for Obama and the Democrats because it indicates they have won the public relations battle in which they have been engaged with Republicans over the last two years as they have fought over whether the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire at the end of this year. If more than half of Republicans—a group that seems to be united in its hatred for President Obama—agree with the president’s assessment, Republicans are not going to get very far grappling with the president on this question.