The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, expects
to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue
Wall Street banks and has overseen an economy that has grown for the
past four quarters. Most voters don’t believe it.
A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 24-26 finds that by a
two-to-one margin, likely voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections think
taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to
banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won’t be recovered.
The full story is online at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-29/poll-shows-americans-don-t-know-economy-expanded-with-tax-cuts.html
“The public view of the economy is at odds with the facts, and the blame
has to go to the Democrats,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer &
Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the nationwide survey.
“It does not matter much if you make change, if you do not communicate
The Obama administration has cut taxes — largely for the middle class
— by $240 billion since taking office Jan. 20, 2009. A program aimed at
families earning less than $150,000 that was contained in the stimulus
package lowered the burden for 95 percent of working Americans by $116
billion, or about $400 per year for individuals and $800 for married
couples. Other measures include breaks for college education,
moderate-income families and the unemployed and incentives to promote
Still, the poll shows the message hasn’t gotten through to Americans,
especially middle-income voters. By 52 percent to 19 percent, likely
voters say federal income taxes have gone up for the middle class in the
past two years.
The view that taxes have gone up is shared by a majority of almost all
demographic groups, including 50 percent of independent voters, among
the linchpins of Obama’s victory in the 2008 election.
Even a plurality of Democrats, 43 percent, hold this misperception.
Overall, 63 percent of those who earn $25,000 to $49,999 say taxes have
gone up, compared with 45 percent of those who earn $100,000 or more.
The poll demonstrates the tough odds for Democrats heading into the
midterms. Republicans are poised to retake the U.S. House next week with
a 47 percent to 44 percent edge among likely voters. Independents are
driving the Republican advantage(47% favor Republican candidates
compared to 34% who favor Democratic candidates).
The heart of Obama’s voting base and the group he’s tailored most of his
policies to, middle-income earners — or those who make $25,000 to
$49,999 — feel more pinched by taxes (63% say taxes have gone up for
the middle class), are gloomier about economic growth (65% saythe
economy is shrinking) and more pessimistic the tax dollars lent to Wall
Street banks will ever be repaid (67% say most of this money will be
lost) than their higher-income earning counterparts.
In an October report to Congress, released as TARP turned two years old,
the Treasury said it had recovered most of the $245 billion spent on the
Wall Street bank part of the rescue, and expects to turn a $16 billion
profit. In the Bloomberg poll, 60 percent of respondents say they
believe most of the TARP money to the banks is lost and only 33 percent
say most of the funds will be recovered.
Women (62%)are slightly more skeptical than men (59%) that the funds
will be recovered. Independents (61%) and Republicans (73%) are
overwhelmingly skeptical. Even Democrats are mostly doubtful, with 48
percent saying the money will be lost, compared with 41 percent who say
it will be recovered.
Separate from the aid for the Wall Street banks, the Treasury says the
payouts for insurers such as New York-based American International Group
Inc. will end with a small loss on investment, as will the bailout for
automakers. Only the assistance to mortgage lenders, projected to reach
about $45 billion, will never be repaid, Treasury says.
The perceptions of voters about the performance of the economy are also
at odds with official data. The recession that began in December 2007
officially ended in June 2009, making the 18-month stretch the longest
since the Great Depression. In the past year, the economy has grown 3
percent and is expected to show improvement in the second quarter of
Voters aren’t seeing the better climate: 61 percent of poll respondents
say the economy is shrinking this year, compared with 33 percent who say
it is growing.
Older voters are more likely to view the economy negatively, with 69
percent of those age 55 and older saying it is shrinking, compared with
48 percent of voters under 35 who say so. For those 65 and older, it’s
71 percent. Those who earn less than $50,000 are more likely to view the
economy negatively than those who earn more.
The Bloomberg National Poll, which included interviews with 1,000 likely
voters in the November 2010 general election, has a margin of error of
plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The impressions of these voters also are dissonant with other signs of
A year and a half after U.S. stocks hit their post- financial-crisis low
on March 9, 2009, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has 75
percent, and it’s up 15 percent for this year.
The poll reveals the failure of the Democrats to communicate their
achievements even within their own party and the opposition’s triumph in
painting the Obama administration as a failure, particularly on economic