(Reuters) - Americans blame Republicans in Congress more than congressional Democrats or President Barack Obama for the current "fiscal cliff" crisis, as the deadline approaches for action to avert big tax increases and spending cuts, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.Five times more Americans (27% to 6%) are likely to blame the GOP House for this mess than blame Congressional Democrats. Nearly twice as many (27% to 16%) blame the GOP House than those who blame President Obama. Admittedly, 31% blame "all of the above" (which taken literally I guess would mean that 37% blame Republicans, 26% blame Obama and 16% blame Congressional Democrats; but many of the "blame everyone" folks are probably those who can't be bothered with politics anyway). They also blame Republicans for high unemployment, albeit in not quite-as-high numbers. Presumably the poll was conducted on at least some Americans who actually vote (there is no breakdown).
Those numbers are impressive considering the crux of the President's and the Democratic position is that taxes will be raised, and the Republicans' sole rejoinder is that taxes will not be raised. The Republicans aren't even bothering to hide the fact that they don't really care about spending cuts or deficits--this is all about higher taxes on the superrich at this point.
It wasn't that long ago that campaigning on raising taxes proved to be the kiss of death to Walter Mondale, who famously tried to preempt Ronald Reagan in the 1984 campaign by telling Americans he honestly intended to raise their taxes.
The partisan Democratic audience ate it up. The American public...not so much. That approach didn't go so well in the anything-goes 80's. It was "Morning in America," we were "standing tall." And other such Peggy Noonan-inspired garbage that duped a lot of people into the magical thinking of "trickle down" economics. In 1988 it was pretty much the same thing--"Read my lips," said Poppy Bush--"No new taxes." And when he raised them the American public gave him the boot.
But things are a little different now. Back in the 80's billionaires were an anomaly, a curiousity. They were like shiny, unusual stones. But after a financial crisis that wiped out a good quarter of most Americans' wealth they're now viewed as more of an annoyance. The country knows the millionaires didn't suffer, they didn't lose jobs, their net worth is intact, their yachts are still safely moored at the quay. Their children still go to the best schools. They still have their golden parachutes and their gated communities. And the country also knows they tried to stick their unwelcome noses in the election we just had. An election in which the winner made no secret of his intent to raise taxes on that specific class of people.
Romney and the Republicans tried early on in the campaign to resurrect the "class warfare" shibboleth against Obama. Notice how that tactic dried up and evaporated really fast? Because the American public has finally woken up and realized that "class warfare" against the likes of LLoyd Blankfein, Angelo Mozilo and Jamie Dimon ain't such a bad idea after all. In fact, they're starting to kind of like it.
The single biggest obstacle to a broad acknowledgement of the grotesque income inequality in this country has always been the phony illusion, fostered by the media and its owners, that the path to wealth and riches for every American is "just around the corner." That's the Capitalist credo, the mother's milk of the Chamber of Commerce. We're all that one "big break" from a lifestyle that includes five yachts and a private jet, and if we just keep our nose to the grindstone, think the right thoughts, don't make waves and keep our eyes on the prize we'll get to that promised land someday. Because it's paraded in front of our eyes constantly, on TV, on the Internet, and in advertisements for products and services we don't need.
Somewhere along the line in the last couple of years a good chunk of the America public stopped buying this bullshit, figuratively and literally, and the fact that most who choose to think at all think taxes ought to go up on these multimillionaires suggests that we've crossed an important threshold. The generation that survived the Great Depression came through with a different set of eyes when it came to wealth, thrift, and waste. There's no reason to believe the generation that suffered through the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression won't be affected in the same way. Real loss has a way of changing you.
This is no longer the 80's, and millionaires aren't our heroes. The only ones who don't realize that are the folks in John Boehner's caucus.