A new poll from CNN/ORC shows that President Obama remains Teflon despite the fact that he designed the upcoming fiscal cliff to speculation. Even though Obama insisted on massive defense cuts and huge tax increases as the two alternative parts of the fiscal cliff, the American public will apparently blame Republicans if the fiscal cliff isn’t stopped. A full 45% of respondents said they would blame Congressional Republicans – even though the Democrats control the Senate – while just 34% would blame President Obama.
The public, by and large, sees Republicans as obstructionist. That’s due to a combination of messaging failure on the part of the GOP — nothing new, in that they seem incapable of explaining the simple fact that low tax rates, particularly on job creators, spur economic growth and thereby raise tax revenues — and a media concerned only with saving its flailing president. The Republicans’ mixed messaging on the fiscal cliff has been astounding to watch. They signed off on the sequester, which put a fiscal gun to their heads, forcing them to choose between raising taxes partially or watching tax rates skyrocket and defense get slashed. Then they turned around and complained about the gun being put to their heads. Now, they’re standing for the principle that we need more tax revenue, but it can’t be raised by raising rates. No wonder the public is confused.
Poll numbers like this could be the reason that Republicans are looking to cave on tax increases, or ending tax deductions. 25% of the country says that the nation would undergo a crisis if we hit the fiscal cliff; 44% expect major problems. 25% say that it would cause minor problems. A full 77% of the public believes the fiscal cliff would hurt them personally.
As for the solutions, 70% of Americans want a compromise solution, but two-thirds also believe that such a compromise won’t happen. 67% of the public says leaders will likely act like “spoiled children.”
Of course, it’s the American public that keeps electing these spoiled children. And Congressional Republicans should be blamed for the fiscal cliff, given that they approved the sequester deal in 2011 in order to kick the can past the next election cycle, knowing full well that Obama’s mandatory defense cuts would force them into the position of raising taxes.
Republicans have done such a poor job of informing the public about why taxes shouldn’t be increased that even Republicans, by a margin of 52%-44%, say they want both spending cuts and tax increases. An unbelievable 56% of Americans say they want high taxes on higher income earners, despite the fact that higher income earners pay a vastly disproportionate share of all tax revenue.