The Quinnipiac Poll Failed To Ask: “Shouldn’t Ohio’s Most Wealthy Be Taxed More?”

It’s interesting to read the questions used in opinion poll of Ohio voters just released by Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.  The poll seems to show that Ohio voters are firmly against increases in state taxes.  But a key question on the poll is missing: Shouldn’t the rich in Ohio be taxed more?

Everyone seems to want to forget the fact that in 2005 our Republican governor and Republican Assembly pushed through a big tax reduction that drastically cut business taxes by over one billion each year, and cut personal income taxes by about $2.5 billion each year.   In light of Ohio’s raging financial crisis, it seems strange that there has not been more discussion about the impact of these Republican tax cuts.

The big thing that everyone seems to forget about Ohio’s big tax cuts, is that the lion’s share of the benefit was allocated to Ohio’s highest incomes.  A whopping 26% of tax benefits were gobbled up by the top 1% of incomes — incomes in excess of $340,000.  In other words, Ohio is scrimping on its budget, cutting programs for the poor, in order to allocate each year an additional $600,000, or so, to incomes in excess of $340,000

You would think that Ohio’s Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland, would use the current budget crisis to revisit the lopsided tax cuts of 2005.  Regardless that there may be little chance that Ohio’s Republican dominated Senate (21R -12D) would agree to change the 2005 Tax Reduction Law, I am disappointed that Strickland has not attempted to better educate the public about the need for Ohio to redeem the progressivity of its income tax system.  (See my post:  Ohio’s 2005 Tax Reduction Law Diminished, By 21%, The Progressivity of Ohio’s Tax Code)

The results of the Quinnipac University poll, I’m sure, will be used to argue that Ohio voters are opposed to raising taxes.  But, the answers you get always depend on the questions you ask.  Quinnipac doesn’t ask any questions about whether, or not, voters support revising the 2005 Tax Reduction Act to modify its huge windfall for the wealthy.

According to Quinnipac, 56% of Ohio’s voters would rather cut state services rather than raise taxes  — and 42% of all Democratic voters agree.  The Quinnipac question: “To balance the state budget next year, if you had to choose, which would you prefer – raising taxes to keep state services at their current level or Cutting state services to keep taxes at their current level?”

I would like to see the poll results of this question not asked by Quinnipac: “The 2005 Tax Reduction Act reduced Ohio’s income taxes on top 1% of incomes (those exceeding $340,000) by 26%.  Because of the 2005 Tax Reduction, every year Ohio gives $600,000 in tax reduction to these top incomes.  Do you support reducing this tax break for Ohio’s most wealthy?”

This idea seems so rational and fair that I’ve got to think that a big majority of Ohio voters, if asked such a question, would give a resounding “Yes”

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling, analyzes the results of the poll.  He says,  “His (Strickland’s) support is weakest among those with lower incomes, less education and younger voters, who made up the Democratic coalition that elected him governor and Barack Obama President.”

Brown’s analysis of this poll confirms my less scientific observation that a lot Democratic voters have caught on that their Democratic governor, by failing to articulate a policy of tax justice, by supporting the Republican 2005 Tax Reduction Law, is too Republican in his fiscal policies.  Because of Strickland’s failure to articulate and advance a Democratic viewpoint on tax fairness, increasingly, our Democratic Governor is a big disappointment to a lot of Democrats.

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2 Responses to The Quinnipiac Poll Failed To Ask: “Shouldn’t Ohio’s Most Wealthy Be Taxed More?”

  1. Mack says:

    Ohio already taxes the rich more with its silly progressive tax. If the state had a lower rate flat tax on earned income only, as does Pennsylvania, there might actually be more money, more people, more businesses, and more jobs in the state, but then again, that makes too much economic sense for the likes of Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown.

  2. Joe says:

    Mack, you hit the nail on the head, even Jack Kennedy knew lower taxes on the wealthy helped spur economic prosperity for all. I am not rich but I am tired of paying the high taxes I do just to support programs that are no longer needed or people who do not want to work.

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