In the fight over the Bush tax cuts President Obama appears to have the political upper hand. According to a new poll for the Americans for Tax Fairness, Obama’s position on the Bush tax cuts is more popular, and if a deal is not reached on the Bush tax cuts most voters will blame the Republicans. From the ATF memo:
When voters hear President Obama’s position on the Bush tax cuts – that he will sign a bill continuing them for 98 percent of Americans, but will veto a bill continuing them for incomes over $250,000 – 61 percent agree with his stance, including 40 percent who strongly agree, and only 35 percent disagree. In contrast, when voters are read the congressional Republican’s position – that they will pass a bill continuing the cuts for all income levels but will block any bill ending the cuts for those making over $250,000 – only 42 percent agree with the GOP position, while a 53 percent majority rejects it.
If no agreement is reached and the Bush tax cuts expire for all Americans, voters say by a 15-point margin that they will blame Republicans in Congress (43 percent), not President Obama (28 percent) for the resulting tax increase. Democrats will clearly win support from the middle of the electorate in this scenario. By lopsided margins, such key voting groups as independents (+21 points), swing voters (+34 points), and moderates (+30 points) say that they will blame congressional Republicans more than the president.
This closely mirrors the result from a Pew Research/Washington Post poll earlier this week. It found that if government fails to reach a deal regarding all aspects of the “fiscal cliff,” 53 percent will blame Congressional Republicans and just 29 percent will blame Obama.
President Obama has strong political incentives to not reach a deal until after the new year. To begin with, the new Congress will be slightly more Democratic. Secondly, allowing all the Bush tax cuts to expire will make it easier for Republicans to get around their tax pledge. Finally, the polling makes it clear that if Obama chooses to drag out negotiations until he is in a better position it is actually the Republicans who will be blamed.
With all that taken into consideration I would be surprised if any real actions were taken before January.
Photo by Pete Souza, Whitehouse.gov.