Arithmetic behind Obama’s “mandate” to raise taxes on the rich doesn’t add up

President Barack Obama took his so-called ‘mandate‘ to raise taxes on the rich a step further today, claiming at a press conference that not only do the majority of Americans agree with him on this issue, people who didn’t vote for him also support raising taxes on the rich.

Asked by a reporter if “closing loopholes instead of raising rates” would “satisfy” him, the President said that it wouldn’t, and mused that his stance on this issue “shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody” at this point.

“If there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more,” the President said, adding that, “I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”

This is not the first time Obama and his advisers have claimed that last week’s presidential election was proof positive that Americans support his agenda to raise taxes on America’s job creators.

In a live statement last Friday the President called the issue “a central question during the election” and claimed that on Election Day “we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach.” On Sunday Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod claimed that even though the election was close, it was not close “on this particular issue.”

“As I said, if you look at the exit polls, I think it was somewhere around 60 percent of the American people agree with the President’s position on this issue of taxes,” he said.

The only national exit poll that asked voters specifically about tax increases was one published by Fox News. Fox News reported that less than half of the respondents – 47 percent – supported an “increase only on income over $250,000,” while 13 percent wanted tax increases for everyone and 35 percent didn’t want tax increases for anyone.

While it is true that a grand total of 60 percent of respondents supported raising taxes on the rich, 13 percent of those respondents specifically said they thought taxes should be raised on all Americans, not just those Americans making more than $250,000 a year. Obama has repeatedly said both on the campaign trail and in official White House statements that he does not want to raise taxes on middle class Americans. Taken at his word, that means the 13 percent of Americans who said they want to raise taxes on all Americans do not “agree with the President’s position on this issue of taxes” and thus cannot be counted in the President’s mythical majority.

It’s also important to note that only 5,179 respondents got far enough in Fox’s exit poll to reach this question. This is far outside the statistical margin of error for purposes of polling. But for the purposes of claiming that Obama has a ‘mandate’ to raise taxes on small business owners and families making a combined total of $250,000, it’s not accurate to say that exit polls showed that the majority of voters agree with him on this issue. What is accurate is that 2,434 voters said that they agreed with him on this issue, and of those 2,434 voters, 706 were Romney supporters.

At his press conference today Obama claimed there’s “a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.”

Coming from the person whose campaign doggedly went after the math behind the Romney-Ryan budget and claimed that the ‘arithmetic’ just doesn’t add up,’ President Obama should know better than to use faulty arithmetic to justify his push to raise taxes on the ‘rich.’




  1. Lee Moore says:

    This business of increasing the taxes “on the rich” is a complete red herring. Obama’s preferred outcome is to repeal the Bush tax cuts for everybody. He believes higher taxes are a good thing. Now he doesn’t have to face the voters again, he can go for what he wants, which is higher taxes. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to do anything to get them. Because the Bush tax cuts will expire automatically.

    All the so-called “fiscal cliff” grand bargaining – which the media continues to drone on about interminably, utterly missing the point – is about is making sure the Republicans get the blame for what follows. Taxes go up, the Republicans get the blame. And if, contrary to Obama’s preferred economic theories, taxes going up causes the economy to tank, the Republicans still get the blame. From Obama’s point of view, what’s not to like ?

    1. DonM says:

      We need a 100% excise tax on the assets and income of anyone who has advocated increases in income tax rates or capital gains tax rates.

      After all, we are assured that there will be no change in behavior based on tax policy. It would just be patriotic for such a tax to be imposed.

      Also, bring back the 20% excise tax on gross revenues for movies and television and presentations. I am sure that Hollywood would support that.

    2. VA Teacher says:

      It’s even better than that…

      He can go over the fiscal cliff. Blame the Republicans. And then a few months later propose a “Middle Class tax cut” that reduces rates to somewhere between the Bush level and the over-the-cliff level. If the Republicans support it, he can say he cut taxes even though they went up. If the Republicans block it, he can say he wanted low taxes and they wanted high taxes.

      He’s not incompetent…He’s several moves ahead.

      Batten down the hatches…rough seas ahead.

      1. Mactavish says:

        The problem with this scenario is that Obama has to believe that middle-class voters won’t notice that he has actually increased their tax burden compared to what it was before the Bush tax cuts expired, something Republicans are certain to point out. A more likely scenario in my view is that as a dedicated leftist intent on transforming the U.S.A into a European-style welfare state Obama is quite willing to risk a fiscal crisis in order to rescind all of President Bush’s tax cuts in the hope that it will be blamed on intransigent Republicans interested only in protecting the wealthy. One way to counter this is to stress to the public that the Senate Democrats have yet to approve a budget for over three years in violation of their own legislative requirements because their preferred spending levels (well over the last 50 years’ norm of 20-21% of GDP) cannot be achieved without raising taxes on all Americans, something they want to avoid admitting at all costs. The argument of some Democrats that they failed to do pass a budget because Senate Republicans would only try to block its passage is, of course, ludicrous: if they could achieve their spending goals by raising taxes on the very affluent alone, they would be ecstatic about any GOP opposition to their budget. But they cannot do so, so they avoid budgets like the plague except to criticize Republican ones. As disappointing as the recent election was to many conservatives, the GOP nonetheless retains two advantages: the political Left cannot get away with blaming Bush forever, nor can they hide who they are and what they want to do forever.

  2. the wolf says:

    Interesting, because Obama carefully avoided discussion of specific fiscal policy points in the run up to the election and now he’s acting like he had a carefully constructed message.

  3. DonM says:

    We should have a 100% excise tax on the income and assets of anyone who has advocated an increase in income or capital gains tax.

    After all we are assured that rasing taxes on certain behaviors does not change the behavior, so there is no down side!

    And bring back the 20% excise tax on the Hollywood gross.

  4. Fred the Fourth says:

    So…. has the constitutional requirement to initiate bills raising revenue in the (currently Republican-controlled) been repealed? Perhaps while I was asleep last night?

  5. Nathan says:

    While deficit reduction is an issue… Debt reduction is more important.. There has to be a surplus of some kind.. And you can’t even begin to think about a surplus without a budget.

  6. Neelynz says:

    Ultimately he is after increased taxes on all taxpayers. That is the only way to support his version of Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Except here there is no real proletariat in the Marxist sense, only taxpayers and taxeaters. So he proposes electoral dominance by the taxeaters leading to dictatorship by him.

  7. Bill S says:

    Obama is hell-bent on raising taxes on “the wealthy” because is is a class warrior, not because he wants to balance our budget. He fails to realize that higher tax rates will depress economic activity and therefore decrease tax revenues. The Republicans want lower tax rates which will increase economic activity and therefore increase tax revenues. Keep in mind that the Republican plan is “balanced” in that “the wealthy” will have some tax breaks taken away as an offset to lower tax rates. Bottom line, if the goal is to increase tax revenues aren’t we better off to do it in a way that leads to faster economic growth and more jobs? Oh, and don’t forget to reduce government spending, especially on entitlements—that’s the real problem.

  8. Tom Maguire says:

    “The only national exit poll that asked voters specifically about tax increases was one published by Fox News.”

    FWIW, the exit polls were sponsored by a consortium of news organizations; CNN published those same questions and answers on taxes and the deficit, so we don’t need to marvel at the notion that Obama familiarizes himself with Fox News.

    As a bonus, another exit poll question is this:

    Should taxes be raised to help cut the budget deficit?

    Yes 33%; No 63%

    Now, one might speculate that some of the 63% think taxes should be raised to pay for more services. One way to combine the results of the two questions would be to guess that, since 60% favor a tax increase (on some or all) with no motive specified, maybe 27% think taxes should be raised to provide more services, 33% think they should be raised to cut the deficit, and 35% think they should not be raised at all.
    Or maybe respondents misinterpret “Should taxes be raised…” to mean “Should YOUR taxes be raised…”, in which case there is a surprising level of economic patriotism shown by the 33% Yes. Especially since only 13% think all taxes should go up.

    Well. The two questions and answers don’t dovetail perfectly, but for Obama to walk away from those numbers claiming 60% support his plan to raise taxes on the rich to lower the deficit is not arithmetically sound.

    1. Francesca Chambers says:

      Thanks, Tom. When I looked at what CNN had published, it did not list that question and answer so it was not clear if it was the same exit poll. Only Fox had listed that question and answer. Regardless, Axelrod’s claim that exit polls – with an s – is incorrect. That means only one exit poll – singular – was taken and that the various news organizations used the same exit poll, which, again, did not reflect what the Obama folks are saying it did. I also left out the question on the deficit because based on the number Axelrod spouted out, it was clear he was specifically talking about the question I referenced.

  9. Kazinski says:

    I think the House should show Obama who really holds the whip hand under the Constitution. The House should put together what the Republican caucus thinks is the best package it can. It should extend the Bush tax cuts, but include additional revenue. The revenue should come via reducing deductions not higher tax rates, because that won’t deter new investment. It should also include lower corporate tax rates paid for with eliminating corporate deductions. The House should also pass appropriations bills for the 2013 fiscal year with deeeep cuts, equaling at least triple the revenue raised from the tax bill. The current continuing resolution expires March 27.

    Then the House should go home. If the Senate and the President don’t go along then the Taxmegeddeon will happen, and all the Bush tax cuts will expire, Sequestration will happen, and then March 27th the Federal government runs out of money and starts furloughing non-essential federal employees.

    Sure the Press and the Administration will blame the Republicans, but they will anyway. There is two years until the next election so now is the time for the showdown. The house will have passed an extension of the Bush Tax cuts with additional revenue, so the Senate and the President won’t be able to blame the House Republicans entirely.

    All the House has to do is show some backbone, and now is the best time to do it. They have a substantial majority, and they have the constitutional authority to whip the Senate and the Executive in line.

  10. Mike says:

    Let’s just say I’m a farmer and for the last four years my crops have suffered from drought and insects. So why would so many of my starving friends agree to pour roundup on a quarter of my field. Why would they think this would help? I guess you just can’t teach common sense.

  11. Becca says:

    We need to change the messaging in this argument… would be nice to hear them remind people of the number of jobs that will be lost if he gets his way!! If they insist that tax rates from the 90s were good for the economy, then we can only assume that the same goes for spending levels from the 90s!! Just trying to keep a balanced approach here!!

  12. Terry M says:

    Of course is does not add up, and why are we picking on the rich, they pay their fare share, he was dinning and parting with the best of Hollywood and Bel Air, now he wants to raise their taxes. If any one just go into the you can figure out, the rich do pay a lot more taxes than we do making 30 to 50 thousands a year. 20% of 50,000 is a lot less than 45% of 700,000. We should not and cannot pick on rich people and make them pay more than their share, and people with big money understand it. What Government needs to do, reduce the tax burden on the poor or anyone making 50,000 a year, adjust the tax bracket on the middle class making 200,000 or less. People making $25,000 a year should not be paying Federal or State tax of 15%, this are the people that need the break. Specially for those living in cities like LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, CHICAGO.
    People listen with your intelligence, this discussions with Obama do not make any sense, and yes he needs help with Arithmetic or just plain Math

  13. John Corley says:

    Very misleading article. Nowhere does it actually address the math behind this plan, but rather whether people agree with the president. This article is a waste of time.


    Boy this jerk has a wilder immginnation then someone chain smoking a hooka what this jerk mean by that stupid remark? Why dont he try and tell us about the big one that got away instead

  15. cjb says:

    The problem is a $250,000 wage in some parts of the country is not a lot of money, or considered, a “rich” person, they are middle class. Depends on the region of the US you live in and the cost of living to establish what your wages are based on. The Government needs to do a lot more research on raising taxes on a wage base before considering people as being “rich”, by throwing out a random number. We can only hope our great nation will figure this mess out and get America back on track….soon!