Republicans say Obama has a mandate to raise taxes

As the budget negotiations continue, several polls show the president has a lot of leverage on tax increases

Topics: Barack Obama, Fiscal cliff, Budget Showdown, Republicans, John Boehner,

A number of new polls show that President Obama is gaining momentum in his push for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, and even Republicans admit that Obama has an election mandate.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say that Obama has a mandate to raise tax rates on income over $250,000, according to a Bloomberg poll. Among Republicans, that number is 45 percent. The president’s job approval also jumped up to 53 percent, according to the Bloomberg poll, the highest since December 2009.

Another poll from ABC News/Washington Post shows that the majority of Americans approve of how Obama is handling the negotiations, by a margin of 49-42 percent. John Boehner, on the other hand, has a 25 percent approval rating on the talks, compared with 49 percent who disapprove.

Despite Obama’s leverage, the New York Times reports today that the White House is reportedly unsure about whether Boehner can corral the votes needed for a deal.

From the Times:

The president has no choice but to rely on Mr. Boehner, who leads Republicans’ only center of power. “It’s not like there’s another path; he’s the speaker of the House,” said a senior administration official, who would not comment further about the relations between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner, which were strained by last year’s failure.

But Democrats in the White House and Congress also say that they believe Mr. Boehner does hold greater sway among Republican colleagues than he did in the summer of 2011, his first year as speaker, given the chastening experience for junior Republicans of both last year’s budget fights and the 2012 election results.

Obama sounded sure of himself last night in an interview with ABC News. ”I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” he said.

Meanwhile, liberal lawmakers have been pressuring the White House to take Medicaid cuts off the table — reportedly with some success.



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“If you want to boil it down to one message: Keep your hands off the Medicaid program,” Rep. Henry Waxman,  D-Calif., said, the Hill reports. “We don’t believe in cutting Medicare, either, but whatever they talk about in Medicare, maybe there’s some things we can live with. But we cannot live with any cut to Medicaid.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also told the Hill that Obama “knows where we are, and he knows we’re not kidding,” and “he knows that in many cases our votes are at stake.”

Though Republicans are pushing for cuts to entitlement programs, according to the same Bloomberg poll, “A 64 percent majority says Obama can claim a mandate to protect Social Security from ‘substantial budget cuts’ and 62 percent see a voter directive to prevent ‘fundamental change’ in Medicare.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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