Tax On Millionaires Would 'Shore Up' Obama's Base

Sep 19, 2011
Originally published on September 19, 2011 7:05 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And you heard Scott say part of this is politics. Let's talk about that part with NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. Cokie, good morning once again.

COKIE ROBERTS: Hi. Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: Glad you're with us. Glad you're with us.

ROBERTS: Yes. Good to be with you.

INSKEEP: Now, let's just note a couple of things that Scott said there. Speaker John Boehner said forget about new taxes and a couple of days later, we hear about the president's plan for a millionaires' tax. Why now?

ROBERTS: But a million - that works for the politics, and it leaves the Republicans saying this is class warfare. That's a term that they have tested over and over. And they think it works for them but probably not in this environment, when people are quite mad and feeling like the fat cats are getting everything.

INSKEEP: That's the kind of thing that, you know, you're in the president's re-election campaign and your heart drops when you see it, because he's already been having problems with independents who, of course, he needs to get re-elected. And what you're seeing is that, combined with a couple of off-year special elections - Democrats getting very restive. And the president needs to do something to get them excited.

INSKEEP: Of course, the cliche when you're in trouble is, don't panic. But former Clinton adviser James Carville has been saying the last few days: No, no, no, no; panic, panic!

ROBERTS: The effect of it would be to say, well, maybe if I get a new bunch of people in here, we can fix it. And what he's been saying is, you know, I've inherited a bad situation. It's going to be slow. It takes some time.

INSKEEP: It would also be admitting that he screwed up, basically.

ROBERTS: Look, the president is hoping that when people look at the contrast with the Republican opponent, he will do much better. And those Republicans are having yet another debate this week. And the president can point both to presidents who were doing worse in the polls at this point in their terms and won, and better at this point in the polls - of their terms, and lost. But still, it's not a good time for him.

INSKEEP: Also, not a good time for him because of the publication of a new book by Ron Suskind, it's coming out tomorrow. We're already hearing about it. And it's a lot of back-biting from inside the White House, or people who were inside the White House.

ROBERTS: But at the moment, it doesn't really help the president, who is already having many problems.

INSKEEP: In just a couple of seconds, do people outside Washington pay attention, though, in this moment, to these kind of anxieties?

ROBERTS: Yes, I think for, you know - the people who are interested in politics do see this and say either, oh my goodness, is it really that bad? Or Republicans take it and say, see? Told you so.

INSKEEP: Thanks very much, as always. NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Monday mornings.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.