The high cost of breaking anti tax increase pledge

Aaron Blake:
So just what kind of price would Republicans pay for breaking their pledges and voting to raise taxes?

If history is any judge, it certainly won’t help. Below, we look at a Gallup chart of George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings at two key junctures during the budget debate of 1990.

The first line is from the end of June, when Bush said for the first time that he would push for a tax increase, in contrast to his previous “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge. His approval rating dropped from 69 percent to 60 percent by mid-July.

The second line is from mid-September, when budget talks ramped up. Bush’s approval rating fell from 76 percent to 53 percent in just more than one month — a stunning drop, really.

Neither of these drops, we should emphasize, made Bush a pariah. He was still viewed in a positive light by a majority of Americans — even as his party would lose seats in the midterm election held in November 1990.

And in both cases, the president recovered — at least temporarily.

But sharp drops in his popularity clearly coincided with whenever his plan to raise taxes was in the news. And of course, by the time he sought reelection, the tax issue really became a liability, with Bush’s approval rating sinking into the 30s.
I think this is one reason why Democrats are pushing Republicans to break the pledge this time.  They want to use it against them.  They know that it will also lead to primary challenges for those who vote for the tax increase which will mean that Republicans will have less to spend in the general election.


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