Politics and taxes are inextricably linked. Both rely on numbers, and both are adjusted to reflect constituent moods as much as economic needs.
In the case of President Barack Obama's latest tax proposal, he seems to have politics and some economic data on his side.
The president's plan announced on Monday would keep the current four lowest income tax rates in place through 2013, but bump the top two rates from 33 percent and 35 percent to 36 percent and 36.9 percent, respectively, for individuals making more than $200,000 per year and families with annual income exceeding $250,000.
The latest Congressional Connection Poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for United Technologies and the Washington, D.C., publication National Journal, found that most Americans prefer Obama's plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for lower earners only, as opposed to keeping them for everyone.
Sixty percent of those polled late last week said it is "very important" to extend the cuts for families making less than $250,000. Just 40 percent said it is "very important" to extend those rates for all taxpayers.
The numbers are even stronger for bumping up the top two rates when the percentages of poll respondents who said it was "very important" and "somewhat important" are combined. That total shows 68 percent place importance on extending the cuts for everyone regardless of income, while a whopping 82 percent say it's important to extend the lower tax rates for only those who make less than $250,000 a year.
Of course, this is just one poll. But it's consistent with what public opinion surveys on tax rates have been reporting for years. Most people have no problem with making the wealthy pay more in taxes.
The reason is obvious. Most of us won't be affected.
A recent analysis of higher taxes on higher earners found that fewer than 2 percent of Americans would face bigger Internal Revenue Service bills if the 33 percent and 35 percent tax rates were bumped up a bit.
Still, the GOP and its presidential candidate Mitt Romney are insistent that the rates must remain as is or economic growth will stall.
Really? We've had these tax rates in place since 2001. Why then are so many people still unemployed?
Because if you look at the economic numbers, taxes really don't affect hiring that much.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that the tax policies of the George W. Bush administration did little for job creation. During the eight years when the tax cuts that bear Bush's name were put in place, job growth was just 2 percent, the lowest since the Truman administration.
The folks who participated in this latest poll probably didn't have this economic data at hand. But they did know that while they and their family and friends are out there looking for jobs, those with high-paying positions are doing just fine.
And they think it's time for those wealthier folks to share a bit more with Uncle Sam.
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