CONGRESS

Occupy D.C.? Most Back Protests, Surtax

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The Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York City spread to Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011.
National Journal
Matthew Cooper
Oct. 18, 2011, 5:35 p.m.

At a time when protests have erup­ted across the coun­try over a grow­ing in­equal­ity of wealth and Con­gress is con­sid­er­ing meas­ures to im­pose a sur­tax on those earn­ing more than $1 mil­lion an­nu­ally, the pub­lic seems to be in a pop­u­list mood””one that’s tempered by skep­ti­cism about Wash­ing­ton’s abil­ity to do any­thing about the grim eco­nomy.

A new sur­vey shows that Amer­ic­ans over­whelm­ingly sup­port the self-styled Oc­cupy Wall Street protests that not only have dis­rup­ted life in Lower Man­hat­tan but also in Wash­ing­ton and cit­ies and towns across the U.S. and in oth­er na­tions. Some 59 per­cent of adults either com­pletely agree or mostly agree with the pro­test­ers, while 31 per­cent mostly dis­agree or com­pletely dis­agree; 10 per­cent of those sur­veyed didn’t know or re­fused to an­swer.

What’s more, many people are pay­ing at­ten­tion to the ral­lies. Al­most two-thirds of re­spond­ents””65 per­cent””said they’ve heard “a lot” or “some” about the ral­lies, while 35 per­cent have said they’ve heard or seen “not too much” or “noth­ing at all” about the demon­stra­tions.

From Na­tion­al Journ­al:

NA­TION­AL SE­CUR­ITY U.S. POWs Not Na­tion­al Is­sue, Un­like in Is­rael

POLLMost Back Oc­cupy Wall Street Protests

ANA­LYS­IS White House Show­ing Tough Im­mig­ra­tion Front

The res­ults ap­pear in the latest edi­tion of the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll.

When it comes to the ques­tion of how to pay for the Demo­crat­ic jobs bill, most re­spond­ents were more than will­ing to place a spe­cial bur­den on the wealthy. Those sur­veyed were asked about a pos­sible 5 per­cent sur­tax on those earn­ing more than $1 mil­lion an­nu­ally. The idea got con­sid­er­able dis­cus­sion earli­er this fall when Con­gress con­sidered Pres­id­ent Obama’s jobs pack­age. Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans united against the bill and were joined by some Demo­crats, mak­ing it im­possible for the meas­ure to pass in a cham­ber where 60-vote ma­jor­it­ies have be­come the norm be­cause of fili­bus­ter­ing. Still, a whop­ping 68 per­cent of adults sup­port the Demo­crat­ic sur­tax to pay for the cost of their jobs plan. Only 27 per­cent op­posed the tax, while 5 per­cent didn’t know. Men and wo­men split al­most identic­ally on the is­sue, and black non-His­pan­ics were more sup­port­ive of the sur­tax than white non-His­pan­ics, with 84 per­cent sup­port­ing the idea.

Con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats and Obama can also take com­fort from Amer­ic­ans’ re­ac­tion to Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans block­ing the nom­in­a­tion of Richard Cordray, the former Ohio at­tor­ney gen­er­al, to head the Con­sumer Fin­an­cial Pro­tec­tion Bur­eau, an agency cre­ated in the wake of the fin­an­cial crisis to look out for the in­terest of cit­izens. More than 40 Re­pub­lic­ans””enough for a fili­buster””have signed a let­ter vow­ing to block his ap­point­ment un­less changes are made to the bur­eau that the GOP feels, in its cur­rent con­struct, is in­hib­it­ing fin­an­cial in­sti­tu­tions and lend­ing that could spur the eco­nomy. A ma­jor­ity of those sur­veyed said that the Sen­ate should con­firm Cordray, and 39 per­cent said that it should not con­firm him, while 15 per­cent either didn’t know or re­fused to say.

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, 70 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­an re­spond­ents said that Cordray should not be con­firmed, while 75 per­cent of Demo­crats said that he should be. In­de­pend­ents broke 43 per­cent to 40 per­cent in fa­vor of con­firm­a­tion.

The United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll is con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, which sur­veyed 1,007 adults by land­line and cell phone on Oct. 13-16. It has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.7 per­cent­age points.

Look­ing at Wash­ing­ton and the abil­ity of law­makers to do any­thing about an eco­nomy be­set by high un­em­ploy­ment, more than half of adults said the main reas­on that un­em­ploy­ment has re­mained high is that “there have been good ideas, but fight­ing between Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans has blocked needed gov­ern­ment ac­tion.” Only 16 per­cent said that the main reas­on was that “neither Demo­crats nor Re­pub­lic­ans have come up with any good ideas to re­duce un­em­ploy­ment so far.” A slightly high­er per­cent­age of re­spond­ents””21 per­cent””saw the prob­lem as be­ing more about gov­ern­ment ef­fic­acy. They said the main reas­on for such high un­em­ploy­ment is that “there is not much Wash­ing­ton lead­ers can do to re­duce un­em­ploy­ment through policy or le­gis­la­tion.”

Throughout the fall, the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll has re­vealed an elect­or­ate that’s ex­tremely crit­ic­al of Con­gress and wary of em­bra­cing any par­tic­u­lar policy pre­scrip­tion for get­ting the Amer­ic­an eco­nomy grow­ing more briskly. The mil­lion­aire’s sur­tax has cut through the clut­ter. Al­though it may not be sur­pris­ing that 90 per­cent of Demo­crats sup­port this Demo­crat­ic pro­pos­al, it’s not­able that 71 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents do and even 37 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans like this kind of a tax in­crease.

When it comes to those Wall Street protests, there’s also a pop­u­list streak: Re­mark­ably, nearly one-third of Re­pub­lic­ans””31 per­cent””com­pletely or mostly agree with their aims. The sour eco­nomy has sparked some class re­sent­ments in un­ex­pec­ted places, it seems. Those stir­rings are un­likely to come to fruition in this di­vided Con­gress, but there’s no in­dic­a­tion they’re go­ing away any­time soon.

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