December 1st, 2010
09:59 AM ET
3 years ago

Poll: Should tax cuts be extended for wealthy?

Washington (CNN) - As top Democrats and Republicans begin negotiations over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, a national poll indicates that the public remains divided on whether the wealthiest Americans should continue to receive those cuts.

Four in ten questioned in a USA Today/Gallup survey released Wednesday say that the cuts should be extended for all Americans, with 44 percent saying they support extending the tax breaks but setting limits on how much of wealthy Americans' income is eligible for the lower rates, and 13 percent saying the cuts should be allowed to expire at the end of the year.

An Associated Press-CNBC poll released Tuesday indicates that half questioned wanted tax cuts to be extended only for families making under $250,000 a year, with 34 percent saying they should be extended for all Americans, and 14 percent calling for the cuts to sunset for everyone at the end of the year.

Forty-nine percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted in the middle of November said the tax cuts should be extended for families making less than $250,000 a year, with another 15 percent that said the cuts should not be extended for anyone. That left 35 percent who favor an extension of the tax cuts for all Americans regardless of how much money they make.

The tax cuts were passed into law in first years of the presidency of George W. Bush. They are set to expire at the end of this year, unless a new bill is passed by Congress. The issue became a raging battle between Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capitol and on the campaign trail across the country the past three months. 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 should be kept in place for everyone.

At a White House meeting Tuesday between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders from both parties committed to start negotiations to seek compromise.

Both Obama and congressional Republicans emphasized the talks on the tax cut issue as a major issue in the meeting.

"That process is beginning right away, and we expect to get some answers back in the next couple of days," Obama said. However, he cautioned that both parties still have deep disagreements, even as they attempt to find "sensible common ground" on the tax provisions.

Boehner said talks involving the treasury secretary, White House budget officials and members of Congress from both parties will examine the tax issue. The congressional negotiators will be Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland for the Democrats, with Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan for the Republicans.

However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated that there is little leeway in the GOP stance, saying that all Senate
Republicans and some Democrats want all the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 to be extended.

The USA Today/Gallup survey indicates a partisan divide on the issue, with 59 of Republicans saying tax cuts for all should be extended. Only 41 percent of independent voters and 18 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted November 19-21, with 1,037 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN


Filed under: Polls • Taxes
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Tie the tax cuts to the one year extension of unemployment benefits. If congress can fund tax cuts they can fund unemployment benefits. The tax cuts have been in effect since 2003 and have not done squat for the economy. At least tie them to something that will benefit 2 million Americans.

    December 1, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. Marge

    Here we have the republicans when they get in to office are going to cut tax breaks to business' for giving employees health benefits. While they want to extend tax breaks for the upper wealthy. What does this say about the character of the republicans and the people in this country that voted for them.

    This will mean that business will be unable to give employees health benefits. Are the republicans trying to set up their own "Death Panel" for the poor and middle class? Everything they say they are going to do, and folks we must remember that just because they have the majority in the House does not mean that they OWN THE SENATE AND THE PRESIDENT. Who also has to vote on the bills.

    Whether the public likes it or not the Democrats should say LIKE THE REPUBLICANS DID WHEN WE HAD THE MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE VOTE "NO NO NO NO" ON EACH AND EVERY BILL SO DO WE.

    But we are going to see the type of people the republicans have put into office. All they want to do is improve life and the wealth of the very rich and corporations. And those who voted for them are going to get slapped in the face. But of course knowing what the republicans are and voting for them anyway just goes to show we have a bunch of idiots in this country.l

    December 1, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. katiec

    The republicans are, once again, proving they do not care or have any concern for the welfare of our country and the American people.
    With their goals of destroy our president, win at any cost they are well on the path to becoming our country's most dangerous domestic terrorists.

    December 1, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Jim Amstutz

    Those who advocate extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy contend that those cuts will create new jobs in the United States. The assumption is that the wealthy will invest those dollars to expand business in America. Is that true? Or will they invest overseas? There is no guarantee.

    December 1, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. JR

    I feel if you're going to cut taxes for one group then you must do it for all. Otherwise let the tax cuts expire and allow our officials to make the hard choices needed to move the country in the right direction.

    December 1, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Frank

    I am so tired of this issue being presented this way. This is nothing more then a question of trying to morally justify theft. Its completely idiotic and simple minded to say someone making 200,000 is middle class and someone making 200,001 is wealthy. This idea reeks of economic ignorance then anything else. The day this country actually taxes the wealthy, will be the day that Warren Buffet pays at the same marginal rate as his executives. The proposed tax increase should really be called what it is, which is a tax on middle class upward mobility. For its the working and business owning schmucks that will pay most of these tax increases. People like Buffet will rejoice as the ordinary income taxes increase since it will make it a little bit harder for people to becoming wealthy and share in (actually dilute) the power that he and his kind enjoy.

    December 1, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Future expat

    If I had a quarter for every Teatard whose comments parrot GOP talking points verbatim, I'd immediately be elevated to the 250k bracket.

    December 1, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Heath

    Once again, clear, sharp evidence that Republicans not only don't know what the majority of Americans want, they don't give a damn. But alas, this is not news.

    December 1, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. jules sand-perkins

    Trying to identify with those who live off taxes paid by others, I realized that a few persons in this country would not be in favor of any tax cuts at all.

    December 1, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Robin Hood

    Historically, anytime we attempt the falicy that is labled "trickle down" economics, we've screwed things up. The last thing this country needs is to cut taxes for the wealthy. However considering how well off our top government officials are, I'm sure they will get their way and continue the tax cuts. Unlike congress, our "lame duck" economy can be labled "to be continued" for most of 2011.

    December 1, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. awaitingmoderationby CNN

    Yes and the none taxpaying status of the "poor" should be done away with. Like the "earned income credit."

    December 1, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Jack

    Republicans continue to be the party of the rich and big business, the common people be damned.

    December 1, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. rsprings

    Who decided $250K is rich? I'll bet that many of those in that bracket are either businesses or two income families. Businesses need to have money to continue operating, to hire new employees, etc. Families even those with good incomes should be able to keep more of what they earn and be be to save for the future. The pont is the current definiton of rich is to low. I am fortunate to make around that much and I'll tell you I worked my butt off to get there. It is important to me to be able save for my future and that of my family. I do not want to be dependent upon anyone in the future.

    December 1, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Floyd

    What people do not get, and the GOP is sweeping under the rug, is that these are not tax HIKES. when the Bush tax cuts were written, they were set to expire in 2010, because they used budget reconciliation rules (the same rules that republicans were upset with democrats for thinking about using for health care reform) which by the rules had to expire in 10 years. this is not voting on a tax hike, it's voting to extend the tax cuts. i know the results are the same, but for the common person, semantics and phrasing really do matter. Please CNN, you are supposed to be professionals. stop making these sorts of reporting mistakes.

    December 1, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Bob

    Republicans say they want what the American people want, so by these polls, the majority of us are not Americans? Look at the numbers and do the right thing. That's what the majority of Americans want.

    December 1, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. Harold

    Too bad the right isn't consistent... they want unemployment benefits funded, but not the tax cuts. Those same cuts added about a trillion to the deficit, something they are supposed to be against.

    December 1, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. gh

    no tax cut for wealthy

    December 1, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Linda

    I'm for one tax one time! It is crazy for the government to continue to tax the American people so harsly. Rich, Middle Class, or Poor. Our paycheck is taxed, grocerys..... taxed, pair of shoes...taxed, buy a car.....taxed, no matter if your house if paid for from 30 yr loan that you paid taxes all those yrs........ taxed "every" year till you die, and that's not the end the government still will tax if your children inherit your property. If fact the government can take your home if you don't pay the taxes due. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE????????

    December 1, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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