By taking aim at the nation's top 1 percent of taxpayers, President Obama may be setting up Republicans to force them to defend their position in favor of the rich at the expense of everyone else even as the GOP works to shed its reputation as the party of the wealthy. Obama plans to propose in his State of the Union address Tuesday a more than $320 billion boost in taxes paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers by closing loopholes on capital gains and inheritances, and by imposing a transaction tax on large financial institutions. He plans to use the revenue to pay for a slew of tax cuts and incentives for the middle class, including an effort to make higher education more accessible.
The Robin Hood-style plan brought immediate criticism from Republicans despite a poll indicating rank-and-file Republicans are not averse to the idea, PoliticsUSA reported Monday. Obama is expected to call for the capital gains tax to be raised to 28 percent for those making more than $500,000 annually, the level it was at during the Reagan administration.
A poll by GBA Strategies indicated 36 percent of Republican taxpayers support that idea, the Hill reported. If the income level is raised to $1 million annually, support jumps to 53 percent among Republicans, the poll indicated. Of course, Democrats like the idea even more with 72 percent indicating they support it. The poll queried 1,500 voters Jan. 9-15 and had a margin of error of 2.5 points.
The poll results, however, didn't dissuade several Republican lawmakers who dismissed Obama's plan out of hand. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said it would do little to make the less successful more successful in an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation." Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., head of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement the idea "is not a serious proposal." The likes of Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also jumped on the negative bandwagon.
Obama's proposals come as the charity group Oxfam released a report indicating the world's wealthiest 1 percent will control more than half of the planet's wealth by next year and as some of the world's wealthiest individuals gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum Wednesday. Wealth likely will be an issue in the 2016 presidential race with even Mitt Romney saying if he runs again, he will champion the poor.