The Magical Invocation of Reagan’s Name

The Magical Invocation of Reagan’s Name January 21, 2015

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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