In a worrying sign for Democrats, the vast majority of Americans appear to have forgotten about President Obama's signature tax cut — if they ever noticed it at all. The Democratic stimulus package reduced income taxes by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples, giving a recession boost to 95 percent of working families. But fewer than one in 10 respondents in a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month were aware of it, while a third actually thought their taxes had gone up. Why have the Democrats' tax cuts gone unnoticed?
Voters are buying the GOP spin: The most likely reason, says Jonathan Bernstein in Salon, is that Republicans have been relentlessly insisting that Democrats have "done nothing but raise taxes from Day One." Anybody who listens to Rush Limbaugh and watches Fox News would naturally believe Obama and the Democrats are tax-hungry fiends. And conservatives complain about the power of the "liberal media."
"About that phantom Obama tax cut"
Democrats have some raised taxes: The public has overlooked the stimulus tax cuts because, overall, "taxes have in fact gone up" on Obama's watch, says Joseph Lawler at The American Spectator, to the tune of $352 billion in net hikes. Many of the new taxes are "obscure," but they affect the public's outlook on taxes. "After all, cigarette smokers and tanning salon patrons — who will suffer large targeted tax increases — number in the millions."
"Spending equals taxes, Obama tax cut edition"
The Democrats' cuts were supposed to be invisible: The stimulus tax cut was "invisible by design," says Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic. Obama figured people would just save a one-time rebate, which wouldn't have helped the economy, but that they would spend the extra $65 a month from a reduction in withholding tax rates because they wouldn't notice it. A good idea, maybe, but Democrats sure would love "a little credit" now that midterm elections are looming.