What have you done for me lately?

by Ted on October 7, 2003

Polls have shown public opinion toward President Bush souring over his handling of the economy and Iraq. But an item tucked away in last week’s CBS News/New York Times poll adds insult to injury. Despite three tax cuts in as many years, only 19 percent said Bush’s policies made their taxes go down. Forty-seven percent noticed no effect, while 29 percent perceived that their taxes have gone up. (my emphasis)

Wow. I would have thought that the “taxes went down” number would be at least 40%, which seems to be a floor for conservative/ Republican opinions. (The precise wording of the question is “Do you think the policies of the Bush Administration have made your taxes go up, go down, or have the policies of the Bush Administration not affected your taxes?”) Here’s a story about the poll, and here are the details.

This is remarkable, too:

“Which do you think is a better way to improve the national economy — cutting taxes or reducing the federal budget deficit?”

Cutting taxes: 28%
Reducing deficit: 59%

I also found this CBS/ NYTimes poll.

When asked “President Bush has asked Congress for $87 billion for the next year to rebuild Iraq. Do you think the U.S. should or should not spend this amount of money rebuilding Iraq?”

26% said we should spend it, 66% said we shouldn’t.

Among Republicans, 42% said we should spend it, 47% said we shouldn’t.

Q: “As a result of the U.S. military action against Iraq, do you think the threat of terrorism against the United States has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?”

25% said the threat of terrorism increased
17% said the threat of terrorism decreased
55% said it stayed about the same

Again, I should emphasize that polling a year before the election probably has no predictive ability. If the economy picks up, all of this could change. But right now, it seems that two of the most significant parts of Bush’s legacy, the war on Iraq and the tax cuts, are not just controversial but actually unpopular. In a significant way, Bush won’t be able to run on his record.



Nasi Lemak 10.07.03 at 11:36 pm

For one brief, alternate-universe moment there I read “souring” as “soaring”. Phew.


Ophelia Benson 10.08.03 at 1:05 am

Very interesting. So people are not quite as gullible as Bush and Co. thought – that’s good news! Even though it is a pretty low threshold.


Carl 10.08.03 at 2:16 am

Re the “taxes gone down” number being under 40%–not all that surprising considering the anti-tax mania/religion in this country, which is largely practiced by conservatives. You could cut taxes by 90%, and there would still be a certain number of crackpots (and Grover Norquist) cursing the government for robbing them blind.


howard 10.08.03 at 3:47 am

It’s also worth remembering that, since Bush’s attitude toward the budget crisis of the states has been “drop dead,” and since therefore a good number of states have increased taxes, and since state taxes are more regressive in nature than federal taxes, it is entirely possible that the poll number is accurate!

P.S. The CBS/NYT number on the $87B hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves. Odds are, the $87B will pass, but the next $87B is in serious trouble….


Thomas 10.08.03 at 5:00 am

What’s the surprise?

People don’t believe lots of things that have happened.

Howard–who I presume is an honest and intelligent person–proclaims that “Bush’s attitude toward the budget crisis of the states has been “drop dead.” ” Presumably that “attitude” is why Bush signed a bill providing $20 billion in aid to states this year.

The aid to states was actually passed with the most recent tax cuts.


howard 10.08.03 at 5:56 am

Thomas, thank you for the compliment, but yes, i’m familiar with the $20B. That was forced on Bush by the congress, since he opposed any money to the states (hence my reference to the famous Daily News headline), and was well below the real need to prevent counter-cyclical spending cuts or tax hikes (since one or the other was necessary in every state except whoever that one state is that doesn’t have to have a balanced budget), which was more like $80B over a 2-year period. So i feel justified in how i characterized bush’s approach, but fine, i’ll take a $20B footnote.

More to the point, the $20B, as far as i can divine (and i may be missing something) didn’t lead to one less state increasing taxes (something on the order of 20+ have), which was the essential point in the first place.


Ray 10.08.03 at 11:26 am

Was the question about federal taxes, or taxes in general? B/C the states have been raising taxes like crazy …


Andrew Edwards 10.08.03 at 11:46 am

Also, remember how targetted these tax cuts were towards the wealthiest few.

Most average working families might not notice te 50 bucks or whatever they saved, as compared to the thousands or even millions of dollars saved by people like Warren Buffet or, say, George Bush.


ucblockhead 10.08.03 at 4:57 pm

Many people get small raises yearly. The increased taxes due to these could easily be larger than Bush’s tax cuts for lower incomes, making the actual dollar amount of taxes withheld go up.


nolo 10.08.03 at 8:36 pm

What ray said. The economic slump, along with federal stinginess, has led to lots of state and local tax hikes. Lots of these hikes are also fairly regressive (like sales tax hikes, etc.). So no wonder people are feeling pinched.


Doug 10.09.03 at 8:56 am

@Howarad: The state without the constitutional mandate for a balanced budget is Vermont. The budget was, of course, balanced by Gov. Howard Dean. Who will bring honor and fiscal integrity back to the White House.

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