Bruce Bartlett rounds up public sentiment on tax increases and finds that in poll after poll the public is strongly in favor of tackling the deficit not with spending cuts alone, but with spending cuts plus at least some tax increases. The majorities in favor of raising taxes range between 60-70%.
Which is all fine. Unfortunately, as with nearly all polls, these don’t measure intensity of feeling. And I don’t think anyone will be surprised if I suggest that the one-third of Americans opposed to tax increases feels really strongly about it while the two-thirds who support them don’t really care all that much. They’re certainly nowhere near ready to kick people out of office if they decline to vote for a tax increase.
This is, of course, the story of politics everywhere. A motivated minority trumps an apathetic majority every time. They always have and they always will. Until we can get people out in the streets with torches and pitchforks in favor of raising taxes on the rich, these polls just don’t mean much.