One of the Republican Party’s main electoral themes was that it was going to “listen to the American people,” as its “America Speaking Out” campaign claimed to do. In an op-ed published following the election, the incoming Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), exclaimed that “current representatives have an obligation to listen to the American people” during the “lame duck” legislative session.
Last night, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) was asked about listening to the American people during an appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer informed the congressman about a “brand new poll” from CNN that surveyed Americans about the Bush tax cuts. Blitzer explained that the poll found that only 35 percent of Americans want to extend the tax cuts across the board, including for the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile, 49 percent of Americans want to extend the tax cuts just for Americans who make less than $250,000, and 15 percent want to extend them for no one. Having explained the poll results, Blitzer asked “So only a third according to this poll want all the tax rates to continue as is. You’re not listening to the American people right?”
Schock responded by saying he can only speak for the people in his district. He said “the message we heard in this election was we don’t want anyone’s taxes going up in a down economy.” Blitzer then adopted a mocking tone and asked, “And when you said do you want millionaires and billionaires to continue get the same tax rate, they said yes please make sure they get only 36 percent federal income tax rate as opposed to 39.6 percent?” Schock responded by saying that the president made that argument and that the American people “reject” it:
BLITZER: In our brand new poll we asked about the bush tax cuts, should they continue at the current rate? All Americans 35 percent, families making less than $250,000 49 percent, no one 15 percent. So only a third according to this poll want all the tax rates to continue as is. You’re not listening to the American people, right?
SCHOCK: Well I can only speak about the district that I represent in the center part of the country in Midwestern Illinois. The message we heard in this election was we don’t want anyone’s taxes going up in a down economy.
BLITZER: And when you said do you want millionaires and billionaires to continue get the same tax rate, they said yes please make sure they get only 36 percent federal income tax rate as opposed to 39.6 percent?
SCHOCK: That’s certainly the argument the president was making. But unfortunately for him he didn’t win that argument, because not only did the American people reject it, but Republican members of congress and Democrat members of congress overwhelmingly agree in a bipartisan away that that top bracket of high income owners […] are small business owners.
It’s worth pointing out that Schock isn’t just breaking his party’s own promise to “listen to the American people,” but his economic argument falls flat as well. While it’s true that there are small business owners in the upper income tax bracket, they would largely be unaffected by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the top brackets — “the yearly tax increase at the lower end of that bracket, for those with earnings between $200,000 and $500,000, would amount to $700 — which ‘isn’t enough to hire anyone.’”
The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent notes that a newly released NBC/WSJ poll finds that only 23 percent of Americans want to permanently extend the tax cuts for the richest Americans.