Raising tax has always been a big challenge for nation’s leaders. My paper topic is a comparison between how H. W. Bush and the Japanese Prime Minister Noda has dealt with the tax issue. Since the plan to raise consumption tax is an ongoing issue in Japan, it has been quite interesting to see how PM Noda has been tackling the issue.
Bush had lost his popularity when he broke his campaign pledge, “read my lips: no new taxes,” but the public’s distrust towards the Bush administration built up when Bush became ambiguous in his evaluation of the bill that raised taxes. While he called it “a big mistake,” according to Los Angeles Times, his senior policy-makers called it a success at the Munich economic summit held in 1992. To the public’s eyes, Bush had failed to keep his words twice: once when he agreed to raise taxes, twice when he called that decision a mistake. Of course, this was not the single factor that led to his loss in the 1992 presidential election, but it had a big impact.
On the contrary, PM Noda has been consistent in his opinion regarding raising taxes and believes that that consistency is the key to achieving the public’s understanding of Democratic Party of Japan’s plan to raise consumption tax. Each time he has a chance to speak in public about the issue, he has emphasized his determination to realize the reform. His method seems to have worked somewhat since the percentage of people agreeing to the necessity to raise taxes has gone up since January according to polls organized by newspapers.
The two very different actions taken by those two politicians was an important comparison for me, since I have always been curious about how politicians’ words and actions affected their popularity. Since this was my first chance to look closely at a specific case, it has been very informative. I hope to continue to see how the Japanese public reacts to the prime minister’s game plan.