Political Animal


October 12, 2011 3:10 PM Obama’s jobs ideas enjoy strong support

By Steve Benen

With Senate Democrats preparing to push individual votes on the component parts of the American Jobs Act, they do so knowing that the public is on their side. Mark Murray reports on the latest NBC News poll.

Even though the United States Senate on Tuesday blocked President Obama’s jobs bill, the legislation’s specifics — as well as the idea of taxing the wealthy to pay for it — are popular with the American public, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

When asked simply if Congress should pass the legislation or not, 30 percent of respondents answer yes, while 22 percent say no; 44 percent have no opinion.

But when the legislation’s details are included in a follow-up question — that it would cut payroll taxes, fund new road construction, extend unemployment benefits, and that it would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy — 63 percent say they favor the bill and 32 percent oppose it.

As has been the case, support for the overall package is lukewarm, probably because the president’s approval ratings have slipped to low levels. But as with polling on health care reform, the American mainstream may be skeptical of the plan in its entirety, but folks love what’s actually in the plan.

In fact, with 63% of Americans supporting the president’s jobs ideas, it appears that the only thing that’s more popular are tax increases on the rich — the NBC/WSJ found 64% believe it’s a “good idea” to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay more.

In case this isn’t obvious, literally every Republican in Congress refuses to even consider both the job-creation measures and the calls for additional sacrifices from millionaires and billionaires.

With poll numbers like these, is it any wonder Democrats intend to keep pushing forward on this?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • RP on October 12, 2011 3:21 PM:

    Water? I hate it!

    One part Hydrogen? Love it!

    Two parts Oxygen? Love it!


    Joe Six-Pack

  • RP on October 12, 2011 3:26 PM:

    Bully Pulpit v. Right-Wing Noise Machine?

    No contest...Noise Machine knocks out Bully Pulpit in the first round.

    So how's that media hyper-consolidation workin' out for ya?

  • T2 on October 12, 2011 3:29 PM:

    lets say the Senate did debate, then pass Obama's bill. It would still need to pass the House....which it will not. Reality=no GOP cooperation on jobs or economy. No jobs.

  • AMS on October 12, 2011 3:40 PM:

    I dunno---couldn't you say the same thing for the ACA---components are popular even if the package isn't---and that hasn't proven a winner for the Democrats.

    Readers of my posts know that I am a huge Obama supporter---of all the Presidents in my lifetime, he's my favorite, and I'm 62. But I think the Dems' messaging is off on the whole millionaire's tax thing. I understand why they want to go with a pithy phrase like "fair share" but I think it's a mistake. It opens up a debate on what "fair share" means and gives the GOP the opportunity to cite statistics showing that the top earners pay a very large share of all federal income taxes. It appears to be finger-pointing at high earners in a way that puts them on the defensive and makes many Americans uncomfortable.

    I think a better, though more complex, approach would be to keep repeating that almost all the income gains of the last decades have gone to the top earners while everyone else's wages have stagnated. Having reaped the benefits of this development, these earners are now most able to help the U.S. in its time of need and that it's more than fair to ask them to do so.

    I also wish Obama would quit talking about taxing "people like me." I get what he's trying to do---to point out that he would have to pay these higher taxes so he isn't asking others to do anything he's not willing to do himself--but it never rings true to me. Worse, it puts a barrier between Obama and the vast majority of Americans and reminds them that he's a member of the dreaded "elite". I don't think he helps himself or his policies by repeatedly pointing out to Americans that financially he's doing just fine, thank you very much. I don't think a President should discuss the impact of his policies on him personally at all; he should remain above the fray and talk only about his policies' effect on the greater good.

    I would be very interested to know others' thoughts on either or both of these points.

  • c u n d gulag on October 12, 2011 4:15 PM:

    Something tells me that if they didn't want to swallow the big cookie, they don't want the people to get any crumbs either.

  • liam foote on October 12, 2011 4:19 PM:

    As many have said, the message is weak. Mr. Obama is an inspiring speaker and in his element on the stump, but nobody else seems to expend much effort, except perhaps Sen. Schumer. The message will not adequately be conveyed without the involvement of someone in the style of Elizabeth Warren. Where are the party leaders?

    The right continues their incessant push, talking points and buzz words by Luntz, et al, but always in a uniform, disciplined presentation across the GOP. If the Dems do not act to counter this PR offensive we can look forward to a repeat of the mid-terms, when the Rove-Koch machine effectively flooded the airwaves with a tsunami of attack ads.

  • chi res on October 12, 2011 4:32 PM:

    It appears to be finger-pointing at high earners in a way that puts them on the defensive and makes many Americans uncomfortable...
    I don't think a President should discuss the impact of his policies on him personally at all; he should remain above the fray and talk only about his policies' effect on the greater good...
    I would be very interested to know others' thoughts on either or both of these points.

    My diagnosis is that you have a well-developed case of "Minnesota nice".

  • AMS on October 12, 2011 4:44 PM:

    chi res---

    Did I say I was from Minnesota? Maybe in an earlier post? If not, you have great powers of perception, my friend! I'm actually "not from here" (as the Minn. natives say), but from Pennsylvania. I guess after 35 years here, I've gone native.

    My concern is not with being "nice", but with being effective and I stand by my earlier post---the Dems' approach is not as effective as it could be. This issue should be a no-brainer for them.

  • Mzinformation on October 12, 2011 5:04 PM:

    I think that the fact that 44% have no option is a direct reflection on our pathetic media. Even NPR reported this morning that "both sides" trashed each other over this bill.

    I agree that the message is weak. Why is it just Obama -where are the other Dems?????

  • jjm on October 12, 2011 6:08 PM:

    @Mzinformation: Schumer just came out strong on this...

  • samsa on October 12, 2011 9:12 PM:

    It's not messaging. Presumably the stimulus was supposed to solve the problem. It did not produce any visible results. The general public may be forgiven for yawning at more of the same. What would the proper messaging be? That we did not do it right the last time so let us do the same thing again? Or that we could not do the right thing last time because the thuggish Republicans could not let us do it so let us do more of the same?

    The administration's inability to address the issue of unemployment with the right level of stimulus in the first attempt is the root cause. In US national politics there are rarely second chance, and there is no A for effort.

  • Dan B on October 12, 2011 9:34 PM:

    The poll is deliberately phrased to maximize support. Who are "The Rich"? Bill Gates and Warren Buffet? Anyone who doesn't need their money and who you can tax without destroying jobs?

    In terms of gathering tax money, the super rich basically don't exist. They're that rare. Obama means "anyone with a successful small business", and that's why the rhetoric may be popular but the implementation isn't.

    That's also why the message is weak... the clearer Obama is the less popular his plans are. Rather than fix the plans he just makes them less clear.