The Hill cites two new polls to convince readers that Americans believe Barack Obama has a mandate to pursue the tax-the-rich platform he ran on during his reelection campaign to avoid the impending fiscal cliff.
A Rasmussen poll claims that 57% of voters agree with Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on people who make more than $250,000 per year, while a poll of new Hampshire voters by Democrat-affiliated Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that 49% feel that “President Obama's mandate following his reelection is to focus on jobs."
PPP claims only 22% of respondents "say the president's mandate involved reducing the debt.”
Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green used the polls to buttress the argument that Obama's class warfare rhetoric is what Americans want:
The mandate of 2012 was clear. Tax the rich, use that money to invest in jobs, and do not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for regular people. Americans want President Obama to fight for them if the Republicans stand in the way, not settle for a bad compromise.
The Hill conveniently interpreted PPP’s results to claim:
In the same survey, only 36 percent of respondents said that the president was tasked with striking a compromise with congressional Republicans. Voters were more likely to say that the president's mandate was to stand up for middle-class families, even if that meant a confrontation over the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts.
The Hill quotes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that he would be open to more taxes on the rich, but only if there were entitlement cuts, meaning a battle with the White House could be forthcoming.
Here’s what The Hill doesn’t report: in that same Rasmussen poll, only 19% of voters thought it was possible to balance the federal budget primarily by raising taxes on those who earn more than $250,000 a year, while 67% believe it isn’t possible to balance the budget on those new taxes alone.
Voters know that taxing the rich alone won’t solve the problem; other cuts must be made as well. In essence, they agree with McConnell, not Obama.
Meanwhile, for The Hill to say that the PPP poll shows Americans are okay with taxing the rich because they are interested in job creation before reducing the deficit makes no sense whatsoever.
How does the public claiming jobs should be the president's number-one priority translate to backing increased taxes on wealthier Americans? It doesn't, unless your goal is narrative building for the coming debate about how to avoid the fiscal cliff.