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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Good Time For Bank Tax

President Obama’s proposed new tax on financial institutions is getting mixed reviews on the merits. But any doubt that it is exceptionally well-timed should be removed by a glance at public opinion research. At pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal examines a new Allstate/National Journal survey on trust in institutions, and finds that remarkably large percentages of Americans think that most measures taken by the federal government to deal with the economic emergency have primarily helped banks, corporations, and the very rich.
Now it may be encouraging to discover that not many Americans buy the Rick Santelli narrative that poor people are primarily to blame for the country’s problems, and are now benefitting from the policies of “their” president. But you’d have to figure that a majority of independents and Republicans probably follow a majority of Democrats in adjudging that the wealthy and powerful are the object of most of the government’s efforts to keep the economy afloat. “Clawing back” some of the bailout funds with a new tax will doubtless be very popular, particularly if bank executives continue to foolishly award themselves and their peers with large bonuses. And if congressional Republicans follow their instincts by opposing a bank tax, the partisan impact on public opinion could be pretty large, at exactly the right time.

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