Washington (CNN) - Should tax cuts for the country's wealthiest income earners be extended? A majority of people questioned in most polls conducted over the past month say no.
It's a raging debate right now between Democrats and Republicans here in the nation's capitol and on the campaign trail across the country. The White House and many, but not all, congressional Democrats want to keep such tax cuts in place for those in the middle class but roll them back for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans say the tax cuts, introduced by President George W. Bush in 2001, should be kept in place for everyone.
So what do Americans think?
According to a new New York Times/CBS News survey, 53 percent say the Obama administration's proposal to let tax cuts for households earning $250,000 or more per year expire is a good idea, with 38 percent saying it's a bad idea. But only 19 percent say it's a good idea to allow tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 to sunset, with nearly three in four saying it's bad idea.
Twenty-nine percent of people questioned in a Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll released earlier this week say tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, with an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.
The Pew survey suggested a partisan divide, with 47 of Republicans wanting to extend tax cuts for all. That number drops to 30 percent for independents and 16 percent for Democrats. Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed. That number drops to 28 percent for independents and 22 percent for Republicans.
Other recent survey's have similar findings.
A Gallup/USA Today survey conducted late last month indicated that 37 percent want to keep tax cuts for all Americans, with 44 percent saying they should be rolled back for wealthy Americans and 15 percent saying that the Bush tax cuts for all income earners should expire.
Fifty-two percent of people questioned in a Newsweek poll conducted in late August said that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should expire, with 38 percent saying they should be extended.
A CBS News survey conducted in mid August indicates that 56 percent of the public said the tax cuts for families making over $250,000 should be rolled back, with 36 percent saying they should be made permanent.
And an AP-GfK survey from August indicated that 45 percent want the tax cuts extended for all Americans, with 38 percent saying they should expire for the wealthiest Americans and 14 percent saying they should expire for everyone.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll conducted in early August, three in ten said that the Bush-era tax cuts should be continued for all Americans, with just over 50 percent saying those tax cuts should be continued only for families who make less than $250,000 a year, and nearly one in five believing the tax cuts should expire for all Americans.
Not surprisingly, the CNN survey also indicated a partisan divide, with Republicans tending to favor tax cuts for all, while Democrats prefer Obama's proposal. Half of all Republicans questioned wanted tax cuts on all income brackets to be extended while only 13 percent of Democrats felt that way. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Democrats favored rolling back tax cuts for wealthier Americans while only 40 percent of Republicans felt the same way.
But not all polls agree. According to a Ipsos/Reuters poll also conducted last month, 49 percent said tax cuts for all should be extended, while 31 percent said they should expire for the wealthiest Americans and 15 percent called for an end of the tax cuts for everyone.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn