GOP vs. Public Opinion

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Republicans show a lot of swagger when the political conversation turns to the possibility of tax hikes–Mondale Democrats and all that. But to some degree, it’s a bluff, as a new McClatchy-Marist poll reminds us:

Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country’s course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government’s runway budget deficits: raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off of Medicare and Medicaid….

Independents supported higher taxes on the wealthy by 63-34 percent; Democrats by 83-15 percent; and Republicans opposed by 43-54 percent.

Support for higher taxes rose by 5 percentage points after Obama called for that as one element of his deficit-reduction strategy last week. Opposition dropped by 6 points. The poll was conducted before and after the speech.

The Ryan plan it’s not. And then there’s this:

No matter how the government tackles its deficits and debt, Americans don’t want it to borrow any more. By 69-24 percent, voters oppose raising the legal ceiling for debt. That includes Democrats, who oppose it by 53-36 percent, independents, who oppose it by 74-22 percent, and Republicans, who oppose it by 79-16 percent.

Last week House Republicans voted, via the Ryan plan, to cut Medicare and Medicaid without raising taxes. Soon they may have to bite their tongues, listen to their Wall Street allies, and vote to raise the debt ceiling. The question is whether and when such iterations of the GOP’s pro-business economic conservatism might burn the party on Main Street.