A little over a week ago, in a speech in support of his jobs plan, President Obama included a bit of populist rhetoric that immediately garnered a lot of attention:
And any reform should follow another simple principle: Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it.
This distillation of common sense, appropriately enough, became known as the "Buffett Rule" and was greeted enthusiastically in many quarters. But we wanted to see just how popular the idea is, so we included a question on our weekly national poll to test it out.
Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 9/15-18 . Registered voters. MoE ±3.1% (no trendlines):
Q: Do you support or oppose ensuring that people who make over a million dollars a year pay the same percentage of taxes or more on their total income as those who make less than a million dollars a year?
Not sure: 11
That's some of the strongest support I've ever seen for a proposal which would, of course, raise taxes. Though the Beltway press never discusses it, the idea of increasing taxes on the rich invariably polls very well, but here support is stratospheric. I think the Buffett Rule's explicit appeal to fairness is the key factor — as the president says, it's just hard to argue against.
Indeed, every demographic sub-group favors the idea. Republicans back it 66-17. Hell, even self-identified tea partiers, the weakest supporters, are at 52-29. Oh, and those making over $100,000? 73-16.
Of course, we all know that Republicans in Congress don't care what Republicans in real life think, and they'll block anything that even resembles a tax hike. But this poll demonstrates that the genius of the Buffett Rule is in its value as a political weapon. Obama is putting some serious rhetorical screws to the GOP, and both he and they know it. This is a great example of how pushing a seemingly "hopeless" idea can pay political dividends by showing ordinary people that you're fighting for them — and by showing exactly how Republicans are fighting against them. It's the kind of thing many progressives would like to see more of, so I'm heartened that the president is on the offensive here. All I can say is: More like this, please.