In 2017, with Republicans controlling the White House and all of Congress, GOP leaders were predictably focused on tax policy -- or what the party referred to at the time as "tax reform." As the process began in earnest, the Pew Research Center left little doubt about what the American mainstream wanted to see from the GOP's tax initiative.
In a report issued exactly four years ago this week, the Pew Research Center found that most Americans agreed that the existing federal tax system was unfair. To improve the status quo, a majority of Americans said they wanted to see corporations and the wealthy to pay more of their fair share.
Republicans proceeded to do the opposite, which contributed to the broad unpopularity of the regressive GOP plan. By the time the 2018 midterms rolled around, the party no longer wanted to talk about their $2 trillion tax giveaway.
This is relevant anew because public attitudes have remained surprisingly consistent. Axios reported yesterday:
The top pollster for Joe Biden's presidential campaign is advising the White House to do something that often makes Democrats nervous: Talk loudly and proudly about raising taxes on the rich.... John Anzalone tells Axios his extensive polling and research has found that few issues receive broader support than raising taxes on corporations and people earning more than $400,000 a year.
Anzalone went on to tell Axios that the White House need not treat the tax increases on the wealthy as some kind of necessary evil. Rather, Team Biden should brag about this because the idea is so broadly popular.
The Democratic pollster added that Republicans will attack the party as "tax increasers" anyway, so Dems might as well pursue the policy that so many Americans already support.
"The middle class is tired of carrying the tax burden for the country," Anzalone said. "They are pissed off. They aren't anti-rich or anti-corporate. They are anti-not paying your fair share."
In his comments to Axios, the pollster added that mainstream voters "know the rich and big corporations have the power, accountants, lawyers and tax law on their side to avoid paying their fair share" and "they just want those holes plugged and a fair rate so the country can make investments in the economy, health care and education."
It may be tempting to think Anzalone isn't a neutral observer -- he was, after all, the top pollster for the Biden campaign, which unveiled the policy the White House is now pursuing -- but his analyses are bolstered by plenty of independent data.
Indeed, as we recently discussed, a Morning Consult/Politico poll from two weeks ago found broad support for an ambitious federal infrastructure bill, paid for by tax increases on the wealthy and big corporations. In fact, excluding the tax hikes made the plan less popular, not more.
Ask people about the Biden infrastructure plan, and they say they like it. Let people know that the Biden infrastructure plan includes tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, and they say they like it more.
There's simply no reason for Democrats to engage in this debate from a defensive crouch.