The Magical Invocation of Reagan’s Name

As President Obama advocates a boost in the marginal income tax rates on the wealthy (a plan that has zero chance of passing, of course), a new poll of Republican voters shows strong opposition — until you ask the question slightly differently, asking if they support setting the rate where it was when Reagan was in office.

Republican voters are divided over the idea of increasing taxes on wealthy U.S. taxpayers, according to a new GBA Strategies poll first shared with The Hill.

When asked whether they support raising the tax rate on personal income above $1 million annually, 36 percent of Republicans supported the plan and 47 percent of Republicans were opposed. The rest were undecided.

But when asked whether they supported raising the personal income tax on those earning $1 million a year to 50 percent, “the same rate taxed under President Reagan,” Republicans shifted their support, with 53 percent supporting and 33 opposing.

When Reagan came into office, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. He signed a bill reducing that to 50%, where it remained until 1987. A tax reform bill passed in 1986 reduced the top rate to 38.5%. Currently, the top rate is 39.6%. But this question apparently was specific about the 50% rate (I can’t find the actual study to see the wording, so I’m going by what The Hill says about it) and attributed it to Reagan. And voila, a majority of Republican voters magically think it’s a great idea if his name is attached to it. No wonder they wield his name like a magical talisman.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    No wonder they wield his name like a magical talisman.

    If you go in to the bathroom at night, shut off the lights and stare into the mirror while saying his name three times, he’ll appear. It’s like Bloody Mary, but with inaccurate predictions about what changes to the marginal tax rates will do to revenues.

  • eric

    Yes a long while back I got into an internet disussion with someone who declared that Obama tax incresases on the top personal income bracket amounted to marxism/socialism. Ignoring the label-insanity, I pointed out that (a) under Bush, in 2008 the top tax bracket was 35%. (b) Under Obama 2008-2012, the top income bracket was…35%. (c) With Obama’s hike in 2013, the top bracket shifted to 39.6%. Then I asked: did he really think that the difference between a free capitalist democracy and an oppressive socialist hellhole was a 4.6% dfference in their highest tax rates? No answer.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    In the absence of the original document, I’m going to guess that the question didn’t actually include the 50% figure. Otherwise the quote marks would probably include the number:

    “50 percent, the same rate taxed under President Reagan”

    versus

    50 percent, “the same rate taxed under President Reagan”

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Obama’s Goal: Be the Left’s Ronald Reagan.

    A legacy of mendacious, bloody, ignorant idolatry – so far, that seems to be the best he could hope for.

  • abb3w

    Poking Google turns up marginally more details on the poll, apparently done by GBA Strategies on behalf of the Progressive Change Institute as part of their “Big Ideas” project. It’s not clear that the phrasing in the report is the exact wording used in the polling question — and at the least, the wording for the intro explaining that this is a “do you support or oppose” is missing.

    Also, given the total N is circa 1500, the two versions were each asked about half, and presuming that the D/I/R split is about 3:4:3, that means the GOP sample on each sub-question is circa 225, yielding roughly a ±6.7% confidence range for the GOP responses. Nohow, the 17% shift seems significant to at least back-of-the-envelope levels.

  • abb3w

    That said, the report makes it look like Hercules guessed wrong.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @abb3w #6:

    Perhaps, but

    It’s not clear that the phrasing in the report is the exact wording used in the polling question

  • laurentweppe

    Then I asked: did he really think that the difference between a free capitalist democracy and an oppressive socialist hellhole was a 4.6% dfference in their highest tax rates? No answer.

    The answer is “I want to pretend to be a daring rogue fighting against tyranny because it inflates my sense of self-worth as well as my dick

    And let’s be fair: few people enjoy candidly discussing their masturbation’s tricks with strangers.

  • abb3w

    @7, Hercules

    Perhaps, but

    While it’s not clear that the wording in the report is exactly the same, it seems to verge on absurdly unlikely that the wording would be so radically different between the two as to include the “fifty percent” in the report while not including it in the question. Even Rasmussen wouldn’t do that, and GBA appear markedly more reputable.