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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The top pollster for Joe Biden's presidential campaign is advising the White House to do something that often makes Democrats nervous: Talk loudly and proudly about raising taxes on the rich.

Why it matters: John Anzalone tells Axios his extensive polling and research has found that few issues receive broader support than raising taxes on corporations and people earning more than $400,000 a year.

  • Anzalone's view — which he pushed during the campaign, and which the new president's inner circle seems to share — is that Biden should go on offense on tax hikes.
  • He should make raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations a standout feature of his messaging, rather than a necessary evil to fund his $3 trillion-plus spending plans, Anzalone argues.
  • This could immunize Biden from GOP attacks, boost his popularity and help congressional Democrats, he says.

Between the lines: "Democrats, in general, are afraid of the tax issue and we let the Republicans brand us as wanting to raise middle-class taxes," Anzalone tells Axios. 

  • "It's a mistake because we can take control of the tax narrative like we did in the Biden campaign — which was to say, 'No, that's not true, your taxes aren't going to increase, it's only those who are making over $400,000 and big corporations, who haven't been paying their fair share of taxes over the years.'"
  • That quick pivot to "tax fairness"— which Biden's team used every time the Trump campaign hammered him on taxes — served Biden well.

Anzalone says Republicans will brand Democrats as "tax increasers" regardless of what they do, so they would be best served by framing the tax debate themselves.

  • "The middle class is tired of carrying the tax burden for the country," he said. "They are pissed off. They aren't anti-rich or anti-corporate. They are anti-not paying your fair share."
  • He said voters "know the rich and big corporations have the power, accountants, lawyers and tax law on their side to avoid paying their fair share" and "they just want those holes plugged and a fair rate so the country can make investments in the economy, health care and education."

By the numbers: Poll after poll after poll after poll support Anzalone's analysis.

  • A November New York Times / Survey Monkey poll found "two-thirds of Americans (67%) support raising taxes on those making $400,000 or more," including "70% of independents and nearly half of Republicans and GOP leaners (45%)."

The big picture: Biden has already proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. He hasn't announced his individual tax proposal, but during the campaign he proposed raising the top individual tax rate for incomes above $400,000 from 37% to 39.6%.

  • That would restore it to where it was before President Trump successfully cut it in 2017.
  • It's unclear whether Biden will raise taxes for married couples making more than $400,000 or whether it will just be individuals, but Anzalone says "we test it a lot of different ways and it doesn't change the numbers."

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Canada First Nation finds mass grave at another school site

A memorial around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on June 4, honoring 215 Indigenous children found buried in an unmarked, mass grave at a one-time residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A First Nation in Canada said Wednesday "hundreds" of unmarked graves have been discovered at the site of a former residential school in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.

Of note: The Cowessess First Nation said in a statement the number of graves found are "the most significantly substantial to date in Canada" — suggesting it's more than the remains of 215 Indigenous children discovered last month at a former residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Biden replaces FHFA director after Supreme Court ruling

Mark Calabria, then-director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in 2020. Photo: Astrid Riecken/ Pool/Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday replaced the regulator who oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, hours after a Supreme Court ruling enabled President Biden to oust the Trump appointee.

Why it matters: The removal of libertarian economist Mark Calabria as Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director gives Biden more control over the fate of Freddie and Fannie, "which play an outsize role in the housing market and are central to many homeowners' ability to afford homes," per the New York Times.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse under scrutiny for elite club affiliations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in February. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Image

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is a member of an exclusive Rhode Island sailing club that lacks diversity.

Why it matters: Whitehouse has repeatedly spoken out against systemic racism and come under scrutiny this week for his family's affiliation with elite clubs. This is the second such club accused of lacking diversity that the senator has been linked to in recent days