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America: a nation of class warriors?

After President Obama renewed his call for an increases in tax rates for the 2 percent of Americans earning more than $250,000 annually, Republicans predictably accused him of engaging in “class warfare.”

Erick Erickson of The Red State blog wrote:

Barack Obama spoke yesterday in a speech filled with lies, half-truths, and enough class warfare rhetoric to make Karl Marx blush.

Here is some of what Obama actually said:

Of course, there will be those who disagree with my approach. Some will argue we shouldn’t even consider raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It’s just an article of faith for them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. I don’t need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn’t need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare. Or by cutting kids from Head Start. Or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn’t be here without. That some of you wouldn’t be here without. And I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to the country that’s done so much for them. Washington just hasn’t asked them to.

The only thing about this that would make Karl Marx blush is its relative tepidness.

But if Obama is engaging in class warfare by advocating a tax increase for the wealthiest, what are we to conclude about the majority of Americans from a Washington Post-ABC News poll?

In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent). Only among people with annual incomes greater than $100,000 does less than a majority “strongly support” such tax increases.

It turns out that Obama was too generous about the motives of the richest Americans. In other words, as a class warrior he’s a real disappointment.

Update: Class-warrior constituents of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan in Wisconsin voiced disapproval when he tried to tout the benefits of tax cuts for the wealthy.

(Hat tip: Andrew Murphy)