The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

WG Town Hall Debate Report

by Caitlin Peartree

Before President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden face off in the final debate on Thursday, check out our report and analysis of last week’s Presidential town halls and the questions posed to each candidate.

Roll Call: If you don’t like the Supreme Court, blame Harry Reid

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about court packing, the Biden campaign’s reticence to take a stance on the issue, and the political implications of doing so.

Our Sept. 26-30 Winning the Issues survey found voters opposed to expanding the court, with 33 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed. And by a 42 percent to 29 percent margin, they believed that “adding seats to the Supreme Court through court expansion would mean we begin to lose any credibility the court has.” On the issue of expanding the number of justices, liberal Democrats were more supportive (56 percent in favor, 23 percent opposed), but moderate Democrats were less so (38 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed), a major difference within the party. Independents opposed it 17 percent to 47 percent.

The Biden-Harris ticket faces a tough call — take a stand and risk alienating the progressives already suspicious of Biden’s promises, or scare moderate voters who are wary that a politically motivated change to the composition and character of the court would do irreparable damage to its credibility.

Read the full piece here.

Winston Group 2020 Vice Presidential Debate Report

by Caitlin Peartree

Interested in more debate analysis? Read our newly-updated debate report, with information and insight on candidate speaking times, question topics, and more from the October 7 Vice Presidential Debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence.

For the full report, click here.

Winston Group 2020 Presidential Debate Report – First Debate

by Caitlin Peartree

Before the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow night, read our analysis of the first debate between President Trump and Vice President Biden for information and insight on candidate speaking times, question topics, and more.

Read the full report here.

Winston Group Democratic Primary Debate Report – All Debates

by Caitlin Peartree

Before the first Presidential debate tomorrow night, check out our full 2020 Democratic Primary debate report, covering question topics, candidate speaking times, and more, from the first debate in Miami last June to the final debate in DC this past March.

 

Roll Call: “There is nothing civil about intimidation”

by Caitlin Peartree

In today’s edition of Roll Call, The Winston Group’s David Winston writes about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and their example of mutual civility and respect despite ideological differences, in contrast with the present environment for discourse.

For the country’s sake, we need leaders who will turn down the temperature, reject the irresponsible calls of Twitter celebrities and resist the temptation to exploit what is already an explosive environment or they risk setting off a chain reaction they may not be able to control.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Good riddance to the summer of 2020”

by Caitlin Peartree

In today’s column for Roll Call, The Winston Group’s David Winston assesses the state of the presidential race, how voters view the candidates’ ideologies in relation to their own, and how Republicans can get to a discussion about reopening the economy.

What the president and Republicans have to do over the next 50 days is a better job explaining the steps the administration has taken to confront the COVID-19 crisis and their plans to get the country to a transition point, from the pandemic to getting America working. What is the outlook for a vaccine? When and how will it be distributed? What about therapeutics? Can schools and businesses reopen safely and what kind of support can people expect from the federal government in the months ahead? The more detail the better.

Read the full piece here.

 

Today’s Unemployment Numbers in Context

by Caitlin Peartree

By David Winston and Myra Miller

Today’s jobs report showed the unemployment rate having dropped to 8.4%, which is significantly lower than the projected expectation of 9.8%. Throughout the Democratic National Convention in August, there was a significant emphasis on the Obama-Biden recovery. 

The Obama White House declared that the summer of 2010 would be the “summer of recovery.” As David Axelrod said in June 2010, “This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with thousands of highly-visible road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects breaking ground across the country, giving the American people a first-hand look at the Recovery Act in their own backyards and making it crystal clear what the cost would have been of doing nothing.” Prior to the passage of the economic stimulus package in February 2009, leading Democratic economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein believed that it would keep unemployment under 8%. However, as shown in the chart below, President Obama had 30 consecutive months of 9% or greater unemployment from April 2009 through September 2011.

Despite an unprecedented economic shutdown during the past six months, today’s report is already lower than any unemployment rate during that 30 month period.

What’s The Maximum Anyone Should Pay in Taxes?

by Caitlin Peartree

By David Winston and Myra Miller

In the most recent survey for Winning the Issues (July 16-18) we asked voters what was the highest tax rate that any individual in the US should pay for all taxes combined, including federal, state, local, property, payroll and wealth taxes. According to the survey, the average combined tax rate that voters said should be the maximum total was about 24%. Even among self-identified liberals who favor higher taxes, the average combined rate was close to 30%. Most business owners or high income individuals would probably be ecstatic to pay 24% or even 30% of income in total taxes. But it appears that proposed tax increases from the federal, state and local levels will send the total far higher than 24%. 

A July 31 Wall Street Journal op-ed Read Joe Biden’s Lips: New Taxes listed new federal taxes under a potential Biden administration, with an estimated $3 trillion in tax increases over the next decade. As we pointed out in last week’s Discussion Points, many blue states are turning to tax increases as the solution to budget shortfalls. A proposal in the California legislature would impose additional surcharges on high income earners, resulting in a 54% tax rate in federal and state taxes. A proposal in the New York legislature would create a new capital gains tax on those with $1 billion+ in assets. These are only two examples of efforts currently underway, but in many cases, governors and local lawmakers are finding out their taxpayers may not be so compliant. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly tried to stave off wealth taxes with the argument that people will leave the state. Earlier this week, when discussing potential tax hikes in New York City, he offered to buy people a drink or even cook dinner if they would return to the city to pay local taxes: 

“I literally talk to people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You got to come back, when are you coming back?’” Cuomo said at a press conference Monday. ”’We’ll go to dinner, I’ll buy you a drink, come over, I’ll cook…’” “They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking? ‘If I stay there, I pay a lower income tax,’ because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge.”

In addition to the wealthy looking for the exits in high tax states, a recent New York Times article estimated that one-third of small businesses in New York City may already be gone as a result of COVID. According to the article, close to half of the closures are in Manhattan, resulting from people leaving the city and tourism plummeting, and that “while New York is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters than any city in the country, small businesses are the city’s backbone. They represent roughly 98 percent of the employers in the city and provide jobs to more than 3 million people, which is about half of its work force…” In this environment, voters do not react favorably to the idea of raising taxes of small businesses. From the survey for Winning the Issues: 

  • Two-thirds believe that raising any tax on small business right now is unacceptable (65-19 believe-do not believe).
  • A majority (56%) believes raising taxes on businesses would sink those businesses that are already struggling and cause them to go under (56-23 among voters overall).
  • In a direct contrast, by almost 3:1, voters agree that raising any tax on small business right now is unacceptable because this will cause more businesses to go under (62%) rather than we have no choice but to raise taxes in order to fund budget shortfalls and to avoid cutting government services (22%).

Proposed increases in individual rates at the federal and state levels, combined with other federal increases like raising the cap on Social Security taxes, will hit individually-owned and family-owned businesses particularly hard, given that they are taxed based on individual income. With the wealthy fleeing the premises and no appetite for raising taxes to an unreasonable level, this is an economic situation that no amount of Andrew Cuomo’s home cooked dinners can solve. The only way forward is to support surviving businesses so they can stay afloat and keep people employed, keep tax rates reasonable so that people aren’t leaving the states, and longer term, generating economic growth. 

Roll Call: “With silencing of speech, is America entering Orwellian territory?”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about cancel culture, free speech, and public concern about the consequences of not complying with certain narratives.

A majority of the electorate (52 percent) identified with the statement that “true free speech and freedom of belief do not exist in this country today because of political correctness and potential consequences such as losing a job for not conforming to beliefs and narratives being promoted by the media, academia and elites.” Only 34 percent agreed that “free speech and freedom of belief exist in this country” and felt free to speak their minds and express their personal beliefs in the workplace and social settings.

Across party and ideology, the only ones who felt free to express their beliefs at work or in social situations were, not surprisingly, liberal Democrats, by a 51 percent to 38 percent margin

Read the full piece here.

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