GOP demands tax cuts for rich be made permanent in fiscal cliff talks

Contrary to what we were hearing only a few hours ago, CNN’s Dana Bash, and the Washington Post, are both reporting that Republicans may now be demanding that tax cuts for the rich be made permanent as part of any fiscal cliff deal.

Dana Bash ‏@DanaBashCNN
Dem source tells me a big reason last night’s POTUS/Boehner call was tense: GOP counter included permanent extension of tax cuts for wealthy

Dana Bash ‏@DanaBashCNN
more: Dem source says gop offer of permanent tax cuts for top 2% is sign to WH that GOP “unwilling” or “unable” to cut a deal that can pass

It’s kind of amazing that we’re having a negotiation with these guys at all. The public hates the GOP offer, and they’re not terribly thrilled with the inkling that Democrats may be settle for Medicare and Social Security cuts.

What the public does like is letting the Republican tax cuts for the rich expire.

This new McClatchy poll, that Chris wrote about earlier today, is devastating to the Republicans. The only thing that the American people agree on is letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire:

The one thing that voters support is letting the Bush tax cuts expire as scheduled on Dec. 31 – and thus raising taxes – for individual income above $200,000 and family income above $250,000.

Voters support that 57 percent to 40 percent.

It just gets worse from there for Republicans:

Social Security via Shutterstock

Elderly couple via Shutterstock

– Voters oppose, by 59 percent to 40 percent, raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. There’s a gender gap on that issue, with women more opposed to raising the age, perhaps reflecting their longer life expectancy.

– Voters oppose cutting overall spending for Medicare, by 74 percent to 23 percent.

– They oppose cutting spending for Medicaid, the program for the poor, by 70 percent to 26 percent.

– They oppose reducing the federal tax deduction for home mortgage interest, by 67 percent to 29 percent.

– They oppose eliminating the tax deduction for charitable contributions, by 69 percent to 28 percent.

“None of these things are attractive to a majority,” said Miringoff.

In other words, the two big issues being discussed – letting the tax cuts for the rich continue, and cutting Medicare, are opposed by the American people.

It gets even more interesting, albeit a mixed bag, when you look just at Republicans in the poll:

  • Of Republicans, 30% support, 68% oppose: Let Bush tax cuts expire and raise taxes on individual income above $200,000 and families above $250,000.
  • 37% support, 47% oppose: Let payroll tax cut expire.
  • 26%-68%: cut Medicare spending.
  • 33%-61%: cut Medicaid spending.
  • 44%-56%: raise Medicare age to 67.

And of course, overall the public is still on the President’s side:

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, registered voters disapprove of Boehner’s performance during the fiscal cliff talks by more than 2 to 1, a negative rating due in large part to the lack of uniform support for him among Republicans.

In contrast, Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the way Obama is handling negotiations. Registered voters as a whole are evenly split on the president’s handling of the talks, the poll shows.

To summarize, the public at large likes letting the GOP tax cuts expire for the wealthy, and hates every other proposal being talked about.  And even Republicans hate every other proposal being talked about.

So why are we even negotiating with the Republicans on any of this?  And why are we putting Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid on the table.  Maybe it’s time we reined in actual health care costs, rather than simply limiting how much we spend on health care.  The health care reform debate was a first step, but far too few Democrats, and no Republicans, wanted to consider the public option.  Well, too bad.  You don’t get to cut my Medicare and Social Security because you weren’t willing to address the real underlying problem.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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