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Steve Kornacki's latest article: Why is it so hard to raise taxes on the rich?

For now, at least, top Democrats are sending signals that they’re united behind President Obama’s call to end the Bush-era tax rates for incomes over $250,000, and a new poll seems to back up their posture.

44 percent of voters, according to a Pew survey released Monday, believe raising rates on such income would help the economy, with another 24 percent saying it would make no difference. In other words, nearly 70 percent of voters believe Obama’s plan would either have a positive or neutral effect on the economy, while only 22 percent think it would have a negative impact. Among independents, just 18 percent say it would hurt the economy, with 71 percent saying it would have a positive or neutral impact.

The findings are important because the Republican case against reverting to Clinton-era rates for the top two percent of income-earners revolves around the supposedly job-killing effect this would have. The case for raising rates, on the other hand, involves the deficit and the country’s longer-term fiscal health. Obama and other proponents don’t claim that hiking rates would magically revive the economy; they simply argue that it’s a fair way to cut into the deficit and that the example of the 1990s proves it won’t by itself hinder the economy.

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