The latest CNN Poll (PDF) is amazing proof that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got a much better bargain than President Obama on the Bush tax cut deal.
According the poll the major “concession” Obama won from Republicans — an extension of unemployment benefits — is extremely popular. A full 76 percent of respondents favor the extension while only 22 percent oppose.
What Obama received in turn from McConnell was Republicans “willingness” to support an extremely popular deal. With 76 percent polled supporting the extension of unemployment benefits it is very hard to imagine how Obama wouldn’t have come out a big winner if he used his veto threat to force a showdown with Republicans over the issue.
On the other hand the two major concession Republicans won from Obama are both highly unpopular. Only 37 percent of those polled favor a two-year extension of the tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year, while 62 percent oppose the same extensions. The reduction of the estate tax is only slightly less unpopular, with 59 percent opposing it and only 39 percent supporting it. What McConnell got from the deal was Obama’s support for several extremely unpopular provisions.
Looking at this poll it is logical to conclude the McConnell is either a dramatically better negotiator than Obama or Obama lied about not wanting to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy. McConnell’s superior skills of negotiation appear even more impressive given that he only controls a small minority in the Senate.