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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tax the Rich, Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Moon, and Public Opinion

The new Federal Fiscal Year 2011 budget promulgated by the Obama administration Monday proposes increased taxes on those making $250,000 a year or more.

The data suggest that most Americans probably favor this proposal. A majority of 60% of Americans believe that the rich pay too little in taxes -- although this sentiment has moderated in recent years. The majority of Americans favor redistributing resources by more heavily taxing the rich. When various ways of paying for healthcare reform have been floated past the public in polls, the idea of increasing taxes on high income households has generally received strong majority approval. The two most recent polls that ask about this use a $500,000 threshold. A Kaiser Health Tracking poll showed majority support for taxing those making more than $500,000 to help pay for healthcare. As did a December Bloomberg poll. No recent data using a $250,000 threshold.

Even a $250,000 cutoff for increased taxes misses most Americans.  So most won't be affected.  And therefore most probably will support the idea.

The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to make it easier for openly gay soldiers, sailors, marines, and Coast Guardsmen to serve in the military.

President Obama announced this as an objective in his SOTU speech. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced on Tuesday that the military will spend a year studying the issue of how best to implement this change. The majority of Americans would most likely support such an initiative. In May of last year, 69% of Americans favored “allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military.” There is unusual consensus across partisan and ideological lines on this issue. A majority of Republicans, independents, Democrats, conservatives, moderates, and liberals all favor the change in policy.

I'm not aware of reliable, publicly-released polling on what members of the military themselves think about the change in policy.

The new budget de-funds NASA's planned effort to send humans back to the moon.

Americans in general believe that the money spent on space programs has been worth the cost. And that the NASA budget should be increased or kept at the present levels rather than decreased. We have no recent polling on the explicit issue of funding to send a man back to the moon. 

Of note is the fact that Americans weren't all that enthusiastic about spending the money to go to the moon as the process unfolded in the 1960s.   Here's an analysis written by a perceptive Gallup analyst (me) at the time of the 30th anniversary of the moon landing in 1999:  "In most polls conducted by Gallup during the 1960s, less than a majority of Americans said that the investment in getting a man to the moon was worth the cost."

The president has proposed major changes in the No Child Left Behind law enacted eight years ago.

One of the biggest changes would be to throw out the "Yearly Annual Progress" standard that gives each school the functional equivalent of a pass fail rating. News reports indicate that this is perceived to be one of the most onerous aspects of the NCLB law.

Americans in general would appear to welcome changes to NCLB. A Gallup poll last August showed that only 21% of Americans who claim familiarity with the law said that it had made the education received by public school students in the U.S. better. The more familiar Americans claimed to be with NCLB, the worse they rated the effectiveness of the law.

Of interest was the finding that 60% of Americans said they were very or somewhat familiar with NCLB. These respondents were not tested to confirm their actual level of knowledge of the often recondite provisions of the law.

Education is not an issue which pops up spontaneously as the most important problem facing the U.S. In fact, in January, just 3% mentioned education as the nation's top problem. Various surveys which remind respondents about education --  by putting it in a list of issues -- find it gets a somewhat higher priority. One recent poll conducted by CNN showed that 42% of Americans rated education as an extremely important priority for the President and Congress. That put it 6th on a list of 15 issues, behind only the economy, unemployment, terrorism, the federal budget deficit, and healthcare.

In general, it is safe to assume that no elected official goes too wrong by proclaiming the importance of education.


Anonymous said...
February 2, 2010 at 7:30 PM  

Tax the rich has been hashed over and over!! If we tax the rich it will just come back to us in lay offs and other means to coop their money back in one way or another. We need to realize that it is not a sin to make money.Forget the propoganda to hate the rich and start making goverenment resposible for their outlandish and wasteful spending. Do like the rest of us are doing and cutback on wastefulness.I don't favor taxcuts on someone who can afford to pay, and I do believe it should be equal, but the real problem lies in the programs that don't work, welfare being the #1 problem!!!! I can work 2 jobs and continue to see more and more of my money go to taxes upon taxes and all we ever hear is to get more out of the people who are working!!!! Something is wrong here.Washingto has lost touched with the everyday person and worries about opinion polls more than the situations we are facing!!! Wake up Congress!!! November is coming and the Independents are going to clean house!!!!

Hattie said...
February 3, 2010 at 2:51 AM  

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...
February 20, 2010 at 5:31 PM  

Taxing the Very Rich is a Great idea. I do think that the theshold should be $3 million though. If they don't want to pay the taxes then they can put those excess profits back into their companies to improve the conditions, wages and benefits of the average workers. It will also help to improve the success of their company. Problem is that Most of them do not care about the people that are responsible for making the millions for them, they only care about what 'They' will be able to keep. Trickle down does NOT work unless you believe that the 2% that actually trickles down is good enough.

Anonymous said...
February 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

I live in South Florida where alot of filthy rich people live in these multi million dollar homes maybe 4 months out of the year.....My god..I would tax the heck out of the rich. I would feel rich if I made just 75k a year myuch less 250k. Reality is that people do not need anymore than about 50k to live comfortably so if you make a whole lot more you dont need it. Let be honest. You have a huge house b/c you can afford it, tens cars b/c you can afford it, blah blah blah but you can surely pay more in taxes...Thats for sure.

Anonymous said...
February 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

The dont ask dont tell rules should be out the window. I am not gay but I can tell you that a person wants to serve ion our military and fight fo rthe country then more power to them. They justy have to be aware of strict regulations against gays going after their team members which could cause alot of problems. No fraternizing among workers.

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