Patterico's Pontifications


Obama’s class warfare sideshow

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:58 am

[Posted by Karl]

The funniest part of Pres. Obama’s class warfare sideshow may be pundits like Andrew Sullivan and Greg Sargent, who seem to think that proposed tax hikes on “the rich” are about anything other than propping up Obama’s sagging support with progressives.  They trot out a bunch of polls showing such tax hikes are broadly popular, and conclude Obama’s tax hike proposals will help him beyond his dwindling base.

Sullivan and Sargent seem to have never heard of the concept of intensity.  Smarter lefties, like Kevin Drum, get that these polls do not tell the whole story:

Unfortunately, as with nearly all polls, these don’t measure intensity of feeling. And I don’t think anyone will be surprised if I suggest that the one-third of Americans opposed to tax increases feels really strongly about it while the two-thirds who support them don’t really care all that much. They’re certainly nowhere near ready to kick people out of office if they decline to vote for a tax increase.

This is, of course, the story of politics everywhere. A motivated minority trumps an apathetic majority every time. They always have and they always will.

Non-wingnutty political scientist Larry Bartels broke down the math on fighting the extension of the Bush tax cuts:

[T]he sizable minority of people who want the tax cuts for affluent taxpayers renewed seem to attach much more weight to this issue than the slim majority who want them to expire. In a statistical analysis taking separate account of prospective voters’ broader partisan attachments, those who support President Obama’s position on the tax cuts are only 6% more likely than those who are unsure about the issue to say they will vote for a Democratic House candidate. Even those who want to let all the tax cuts expire are only 9% more likely to vote Democratic. By comparison, those who want to keep the tax cuts for affluent taxpayers in place are 22% more likely to say they will vote for a Republican House candidate.

An even more lopsided difference appears in the impact of tax cut preferences on presidential approval. People who support President Obama’s position on this issue are only slightly more approving of his overall performance than those who are unsure, while those who want to renew all the tax cuts are moved about five times as far toward disapproving. Among political independents, a whopping 76% of those who want continued tax cuts for the rich say they strongly disapprove of the president’s performance; only 27% of those who support his proposal for selective extension of the tax cuts are equally disenchanted.


These results suggest that candidate Obama’s skillful-looking proposal to allow the tax cuts to expire only for the richest 2% of taxpayers has turned out to be very costly for President Obama and his party, despite its overall popularity.

Thus, the only people shocked when Obama and the lame duck Democratic Congress decided to take credit for extending the Bush tax cuts after the 2010 midterms were people like Sargent and Sullivan.  You would think people would have learned from past examples where intensity was the real story (e.g., abortion, second amendment), but apparently hopeandchange springs eternal for some.

Team Obama has rolled out the class warfare sideshow now for two reasons.  First, as noted, they need to pump up the left to arrest the president’s steadily declining approval ratings.  They led with class warfare because they will want to ease off tax hiking as the campaign heats up and pivot to Mediscare, an issue with more intensity and saliency for people who vote and might otherwise vote Republican (even here, there are doubts about Mediscare working in the current economic climate).  Second, any day the establishment media wastes talking about fiscal minutiae like “the Buffett rule” is a day Team Obama is not forced to address chronic high unemployment, job-killing regulations, nascent scandals, and so on.


53 Responses to “Obama’s class warfare sideshow”

  1. O/T…….
    One of the Fullerton PD cops involved in the death of Kelly Thomas has surrendered and been booked on 2nd degree murder charges.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  2. Screw the fascist left.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  3. …more Kelly Thomas:
    Announced by Tony R (OC-DA):
    Ramos charged with 2nd degree murder, and Manslaughter;
    second officer (missed name) charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Use of Excessive-force.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  4. One of the little oddities in Public Taxation & Finance is that, when you raise the tax rate on the “rich,” tax revenues from the “rich” fall. When you lower the tax rate on the “rich,” tax revenues from the “rich” rise. Don’t take my word for it – check it out in “The Statistical Abstract of the United States.”

    When I was working on my MBA in Economics (minor – Public Finance & Taxation) one of my professors made an offer to each class – any student who could produce evidence of a situation where, when tax rates were raised on the “rich,” tax revenues rose, would get an automatic A+ for the course without having to take any exams.

    As the majority of the students had financial backgrounds and their companies were paying their tuition, there were no takers.

    Michael M. Keohane (4e0dda)

  5. In what way is Sullivan conservative?

    He’s demagoguing for more social welfare?

    I only hear about him when folks quote him, so perhaps I’m getting a skewed sample, but damn. I remember when he was the conservative on a bunch of panels.

    Anyway, 2012 will be about ‘Jobs vs Taxing the Rich for Mythical Goodies’

    And jobs is not just an intense motivator, but also a very broad one. Yes, the right will be electioneering intensely against class warfare, but the middle will be moved by jobs, so we win anyway.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  6. …more Thomas:

    “…Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder, and Officer Jay Cicinelli was charged with assault under color of authority and manslaughter. Cicinelli posted bail, and Ramos’ bail arrangements were still under way as of Wednesday morning…”

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  7. Sully is only considered “conservative” because he initially supported the Bush/Cheney War on Terrorism.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  8. All this talk about tax policy is a ludicrous sideshow. The central and overwhelming fact is that we have a powerful economic nemesis in mercantilist China (and in mercantilist Asia generally): they manipulate their currency, disregard intellectual property rights, use slave labor and throw environmental standards to the winds, and employ openly adversarial (but clear-eyed) mercantilist tactics against our oafish bumbling free-trade ideology.

    Plus it doesn’t help that we live next door to a pathetic Third World pauper factory that eats us out of house and home while we do nothing about it.

    Even a suite of genuine conservative tax reforms and Romneyesque technocratic dial-twiddling will only produce marginal cosmetic improvements. The US needs to wake up and begin seeing the world and the big game clearly, not through the soapy goggles of an absurd ideology which it could only ever really afford in the past because it was once young and rich and strong.

    d. in c. (7c90f3)

  9. So when does Intrade offer action on Urkel resigning to receive a blanket pardon from BiteMe?

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  10. The impact of Mediscare and the economy on seniors is especially interesting. Even AARP acknowledges that more and more grandparents are supporting their children and grandchildren. Will losing benefits in a bad economy concern seniors the most, or will the prospect of supporting their children and grandchildren trump that concern?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  11. Obots like Jon Bon Jovi at least give money to the education system so a tleast they got that going for them.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  12. DRJ, the only people who are saying IIRC that Seniors will lose benes are The Left in the Mediscare strategery.
    Cong. Paul Ryan has repeatedly said, over and over, that his proposed rescue of SocSec/Medicare exempts anyone from 55 and over from any adverse changes as a “contract entered into and observed”.
    I beleive there is polling from FL and PA (two states that receive high levels of SocSec payments) that Sr.’s generally support Ryan’s plan, and disbelieve the Mediscare meme.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  13. Ryan said yesterday that, “yes, SS fits the definition of a Ponzi scheme, intial subscribers make money, trailers lose.”

    Romney wants to continue feeding at the trough, induce States to create healthcare mandates, follow the consensus to address global climate change,…

    Nice Obama.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  14. what I hear president bumble saying is that the reason his presidency is a steaming pile of fail is cause we didn’t tax people enough

    It’s not even a rationale for going to vote for the sad little man he just wants to throw the taxing thing out there as an excuse.

    He must wake up every day knowing in his heart he’s a fraud and then all day long he feels like a big stupid fraud and then at night he must feel completely embarrassed what a dorky fraud he was all day.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  15. AD,

    I saw that Florida poll and it suggests to me that seniors realize there will be Medicare changes, no matter who is elected. Furthermore, even if changes don’t impact people already receiving Medicare, they could — such as if the DocFix isn’t continued — and reimbursement of certain procedures and medications will almost certainly be circumscribed.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  16. Gosh Paul Ryan handled the Ponzi scheme description crisply.

    I hope Perry is taking notes. It’ll come up again.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  17. Andrew Sullivan three years ago:

    “… the current GOP is contemptible in all its permutations – from the base to the intelligentsia…. my political judgment, honestly held, proudly expressed, is that destroying this Republican party is essential if this country and the world are going to recover from our current morass.”

    Everything follows from that. Palin, Obama, the “Christianists”, et cetera.

    He certainly has the right to use his abilities to accomplish that goal. But that’s not journalism; that’s propaganda.

    P.S. Yes,he did write “this country and the world”.

    SteveMG (6252c6)

  18. It is interesting that on medications, Obama and The Left (redundancy alert) will attempt within ObamaCare to reduce those benefits that they criticized GWB and the GOP Congress for passing because they were insufficient.
    Consistency has never been a hallmark of The Left; other than their inconsistency.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  19. Let me state first that the US overall rate of taxation is too high – due primarily to the governments thirst for spending.

    The primary reason for the rich paying a relatively low rate is the 15% tax on capital gains and the 15% tax rate on dividends. The tax rate on dividends was adjusted downward to 15% to account for the double taxation (ie lack of deduction at the corporate level). A better solution would be to tax dividends at the full rate, but give corporations a dividend paid deduction.

    Capital gains are taxed at the 15% level because 1) to help spur investment, and 2) partly to account for the inflation – which in many cases can result in the seller paying tax on an economic loss due to inflation – especially true of assets bought pre-1980’s. For lack of a better analogy, most of the time the effective rate after accounting for inflation, the capital gain approximates ordinary rates.

    Our tax rates on labor are exceedingly high, with the payroll tax of 15.3%/ (13.3% with the current reduction) plus the income tax, an individual can be paying 30-40% flat rate earning as little as 70-100k, not marginal but flat rate. Very common with two spouses making 70-100k each.

    With the various credits, lower rates, earned income credit, we have eliminated nearly 50% of our population from taxation. Those individuals need to pay some tax if for no other reason that they can have mature/responsible attitude regarding fiscal policy.

    The point being is that our tax code does need reformation, but the soak the rich/ class envy is totally inappropriate in developing sound tax policy.

    Joe (bbbdbb)

  20. Sully is a throbbing, torn, eviscerated colon.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  21. That is an amazing quote, SteveMG.

    Dude sounds absolutely insane.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  22. And he sounds impotent. People talking about how the world needs the destruction of an entire political party… a very broad and popular one, only do that because they know they are losing the debate.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  23. If The Left were serious about International Competiveness, and tax reform, they would zero-out the tax on corporations, and tax dividends at the full individual rate (therefore, only taxing corporate profits once); plus, Cap-Gains would be indexed for inflation to prevent the govt from profitting from the fraud they induce into the economy by debasing the currency.
    Now, back from Fantasy Land….

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  24. …of course, the tax on dividends, which also gathers up the interest on savings-accounts (stock investments are nothing but another form of savings, after all, for those who are looking for a reliable source of income, with the possibility of a capital gain at the end), has been a drag on savings and investment in this country for generations.
    It is long past time for us to throw off the shackels of FDR-socialism, and get back to a realistic economic/fiscal/monetary policy.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (343797)

  25. Sullivan is an anti-semetic little fag.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  26. Does Sullivan have proof Palin cheated on her husband with Glenn Rice thus abandoning her kids?

    Does he have proof Todd is a racist?

    DohBiden (d54602)

  27. Sully is a soiled rosebud complete with last night’s stink.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  28. I am surprised that Obama is taking the stance that he is. He is setting up a clear contrast with him and a potential GOP rival. Obama wants to close the government deficit with higher taxes because he cannot find any government programs that should be cut. To him the government is not too big; it is too small. The GOP can counter that it wants to close the government deficit with lower spending because it thinks the government is too big and too intrusive. I will be shocked if Obama has found a winning formula here. When he ran in 2008 he did not run as a candidate who would increase the size and scope of government, increase the deficit, and raise taxes. He did not even want to run on a platform of redistribution–look at how his surrogates treated Joe the Plumber when he inadvertently caused Obama to reveal how important redistribution is. So I am delighted that Obama is not running away from the ideal of bigger government, but embracing it.

    nohype (c86dc7)

  29. Yes, AZBob, it’s clear that President Obama still hasn’t bothered to talk to his protocol advisers.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  30. President Obama believes that Medicare as it exists now is unsustainable. Well, people can think so. And he wants to cut benefits, make it less good in some way, not having the imagination to try something that might eliminate waste. And here is his idea: To make people tolerate it, taxes should be raised on the wealthy.

    It doesn’t matter that now already the wealthy pay a disproportionate share of the taxes- they do pay more, not just in dollar terms but they do have a higher rate – no, we should only look at *changes* in tax laws. It doesn’t matter that many of the provisions that lower taxes, including lower capital gains taxes, are there for some reason or another, and some are there for a very good reason – charitable tax deductions – if that’s limited, then someone like Obama could write a book, donate all the income to charity and *still* owe money – unless maybe they had a lawyer draw up the contract just right so that the income was earned in the first place by a charitable foundation. It doesn’t matter that the changes he proposes won’t raise very much money, and some might even cost money. It doesn’t matter that the whole tax increase might not amount to too much of the deficit reduction he wants to get so that you could eliminate every single bit of that without changing the results too much (although it does matter to him that the public not realize this).

    What matters is that some taxes on the well off be increased with the idea than the the public would tolerate a weakening of the Medicare and other government benefits because “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”

    Sammy Finkelman (d3daeb)

  31. Math-Class Warfare:

    Let’s take a look at key economic data, simply remove eight zeros, i.e., divide by 100 million, and bring it down to numbers every American family should be able to understand:

    Why S&P Downgraded the US:
    U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
    Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
    New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
    National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
    Recent [April] budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

    Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
    Annual family income: $21,700
    Money the family spent: $38,200
    New debt on the credit card: $16,500
    Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
    Budget cuts: $385

    ColonelHaiku (87d081)

  32. How do you starve an Obama supporter?

    Hide their food stamps…

    under their work shoes.

    ColonelHaiku (87d081)

  33. You are an idiot, “see”.

    JD (318f81)

  34. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along and wants to start a business


    I thought you were saying we needed roads and stuff like that.

    Not welfare for a bunch of people who aren’t actually going to prosper.

    And you know, I could just invest in a bank that gives out business loans instead.

    But you’ve got it all backwards. Baby boomers do owe the next generation, but that’s because the government is stealing enormous sums of money from them to fund this ridiculous government. We don’t need Obama to steal even more from the next generation to find even more government. That doesn’t help the future at all. It just helps the politicians.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  35. For someone named See, s/he missed the entire point. Citing a Gallup poll doesn’t cut it; I could show you 30 more just like it. Yet Obama extended the Bush tax cuts.

    Karl (37b303)

  36. You wanna see a coupla prize winning class warfare hypocrites? Go look at the large center pic currently running on Drudge. Can you say tone deaf?

    elissa (054a47)

  37. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory…

    That was before the Obama administration abrogated the rule of law and formalized crony capitalism.

    Now, the marauding bands have White House contacts.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  38. Multiple names does not make your mendoucheous class warfare rhetoric any less mendoucheous.

    JD (318f81)

  39. sniff sniff
    Are those darn straw men burning again?

    elissa (054a47)

  40. I don’t know – hey! why dont we just cut spending?

    EricPWJohnson (719277)

  41. Seen:

    You seem to argue that the government is entitled to money people earn.

    Forget for a second who earns more. Let’s just look at the supposition that the government somehow is able to take your hard work away from you because they can. Why?

    I would say, that I expect the government to conduct important functions for the good of the people in general. I expect them to do it efficiently and effectively.

    If I disagree with how the money is being spent, you seem to be saying, that doesn’t matter, just as long as they take it away from rich people.

    That’s not the government’s job. Its job is to provide services.

    If I don’t like the way the government is spending money on services, or if I think the government is over-reaching in it’s ambition, you seem to be saying I should remain silent and pay up.

    It seems to m, you are saying, it doesn’t matter how the government spends money, some people should just pay more because the government needs it.

    That is absurd.

    Ag80 (9a213d)

  42. Sorry about the typos.

    It’s just frustrating to say again and again, it’s not the damn revenue, it’s the spending. As the President said, Peace is hard. This isn’t.

    Ag80 (9a213d)

  43. “You built a business out there — good for you. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

    See – Close the circle, dummy.

    Who paid those people who paid money to the government to build the roads and educate our children. Was it somebody else who started a business or did they hold government jobs paid for by our tax dollars?

    Capitalism sucks, corporations are evul!!!!!!11ty!!!!!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  44. See and Seen were imdw. Nuked. Tracking a couple of old ID-threads from those comments now which means future comments are even less likely to get through.

    Stashiu3 (601b7d)

  45. Stashiu3 – I was going to guess that. Thanks.

    The idiocy was strong.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  46. If only the government could be as efficient as you are, Stash. Thanks.

    elissa (054a47)

  47. ian – That’s hilarious and confirms imdw is not smart enough to have thoughts of its own.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  48. The idiocy was strong.

    It’s a good thing the coffee is still brewing.

    ColonelHaiku (87d081)

  49. They trot out a bunch of polls showing such tax hikes are broadly popular

    Hey as long as the taxes are paid by “other people” they will always be popular.

    A. Weiner (d1c681)

  50. Whenever these polls are brought up, people tend to think of “taxing the rich” as “taxing everyone in the tax brackets above me, but don’t take a penny from my income.”

    Another Chris (c04459)

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