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. Rick McDaniel

    Of course not......but therein lies the party conflict, at least the biggest conflict.

    December 1, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. Charlie from the North

    And one more thing GOP:
    Why is it that we can't afford to extend un-employment benefits without "finding the money" but it is fine to extend tax cuts to the wealthy without a care as to the resulting deficit? Just wonderin..

    December 1, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Some one who cares.

    This survey is so bogus, majority of the people does not want the tax extended for people who make over S250,000.
    These number or so out of balance. Also this is not a real issue.

    December 1, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  4. marty

    I keep looking for information from the Republicans telling me how we are going to pay for the "Bush tax cuts". As a result of these cuts our deficit will grow enormously. Have we realized any new jobs in the previous administration as a result of these tax cuts? Are we, as a country, better off as a result of these tax cuts? Will our children and grandchildren have a better future as a result of these tax cuts? I think not.

    December 1, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Dean

    How about a complete overhaul of our income tax system.

    December 1, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. steven

    this is the phoniest poll one could ever see....as usual the questions are all over the place and and really come up with the conclusion that the rich should get and even bigger break than the bush cuts call for...the congress i amsure are gooing to voteintheir best interest..after all they are all millionaires...or damn close to being one...the greedy will prevail...as is usually the case.

    December 1, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. Zach Quilty

    All i have to read is the title to know this is going to be a very bias blog. The country remains divided? If this was any other poll that didn't favor you it would be title majority doesn't want tax cuts. There is propaganda in the title! Co the country remains divided on Obama as president right now to? It funny how you reconize a large minority only when it makes people believe your propaganda. Yes the rich tax cuts should be done away with because like I said to my friend the other day "Its not like they will be eating Mcdoubles at Mcdonalds!" Rich people will still be living better than the average Americans if the tax cut isn't extended. I have a better idea. We sieze the top 1% wealth and cut taxes for everyone else. Its dangious for a few people to have that much money therefore a threat to the republic! Government and policy should be made unavailable to those who manipulate it. Its a shame what rich bankers did to our country over the years so if anyone should have to pay more, its them!

    December 1, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Bill

    Rich people own businesses... Businesses create jobs.... there are not many people in the middle class that are the economic engines that drive job creation. To encourage job creation the rich/company owners need to be afforded the same benefit that employees are.... this is so simple ... put your self in their position.....

    December 1, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Sonny , a soon-to-be former Dem

    SUNSET ALL TAX CUTS! As age 71+ retirees on very meager, fixed and delcining incomes, my lovely wife of 51 years and I have survived on PB&J in our leanest years. We can do it again! I would rather do that than let any $250K and above greedy people, righty or lefties, continue getting the Bush tax cuts. What did God do to your brains???

    December 1, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Take America Back from the Libs

    Yes.....NO one should have an increase in taxes..... at least not until there are significant cuts in entitlements.....IE: to coin a Clinton phrase, "End welfare as we know it"......and do you know what will happen? The same thing that happened then; over 80% will drop off the welfare roles and GET A JOB! There are plenty of jobs out there if one is willing to work, but in this nation (under the Democrats) we have a society of folks who are rewarded for NOT working and contributing to society.....This nation must choose now....ARE YOU A TAKER OR A GIVER?

    December 1, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Chihuahuan Desert

    If I was as spiteful as Nancy Pelosi I would say don't do anything and see what happens. Let me tell you the misery index is high now but it is going to be off the charts if they do not step up to the plate. People were furious by the time November 2nd rolled in and that mood is not going to improve when their January paychecks come in a lot less. My company has already adjusted the withholding for January and all income levels will get the Obama tax hike.

    December 1, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Poll: Should tax cuts be extended for wealthy?

    HELL NO!!!!

    Those Re'Fascists"icans let unemployment benefits expire for thousands of people at midnight last night. To hell with them and their tax cut.

    December 1, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. tradewinds

    I think it's time the wealthy started helping out this country. The middle class has been hold us up for years and it gets tiresome after a while. GREED is NOT good! We are so materialistic it's sickening. If i was rich I would vote to tax the rich. How much money do you really need? It's so sad that corporate america runs this country. I voted for Obama but he really needs to grow some!

    December 1, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. Indie Woman in Denver

    I'm in the group that says we should extend the tax cuts BUT limit how much income should be taxed at the lower rates: the first $250? $500? $1M? To encourage actual job creation, we should create focused tax cuts, and not depend on "trickle down" economics. That theory has already been proven to be bogus.

    December 1, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. bcrunner

    It's amazing to me that the people that are screaming about the deficit, yet they want to borrow from China to give tax breaks to people who make that kind of money. There is a reason the tax breaks expire this year otherwise Bush and the Republicans would have made them permanent. They couldn't pay for them. Also, during the last 10 years real wages for middle class America have gone down but have gone way up for the rich. And, we all know that this is personal income we are talking about... it's not that they will put it back in the economy... On top of that, they refuse to extend the unemployment benefits for millions which for most of them is the lifeline right now because they need to be paid for... What they are saying is "it's OK to borrow from China to give me a tax break, but it's not OK to borrow from China to pay the guy who is probably hanging on to his house or his life for that matter.. an unemployment check... I don't understand what happened to our country....

    December 1, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. CitizenJP

    The rich got disproportinately richer during this decade due to:
    - huge tax break from Mr. Bush
    - financial deregulation
    - elimination of estate tax
    - lay off of workers to protect their profit
    Taxing should be done in accordance with the resource utilization foot print. The rich pays disproportionately lower tax considering they use a disproportionate amount of world's resources. So it is time to hold their feet to fire and make them pay their fair share.

    December 1, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Poser

    The 35% who favor tax cuts for the rich are probably also on medicare and social security, don't want to cut the defense budget, and claim they're against deficits.

    December 1, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. marge

    So a majority of Americans want the tax cuts to be extended to the middle class and let them go up on the upper 1-2% of Americans. Wonder who's ass the R's will think it behooves them to kiss more??? ;)

    December 1, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Jim from Va

    Taxes shouldn't be raised on anyone while the economy is in as bad shape as it is.Didn't Congress learn from the past election? The more money coming into the government the more money that they will waste and spend.

    December 1, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. Tamsen Danby

    Seems that the G(OP)allup orgainization is polling the Tbaggers again.. USA today is of nearly the same caliber.

    The stoopid vote is very well represented on CNN.

    December 1, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    History has shown BEYOND DOUBT that tax cuts for the rich do nothing except increase the deficit. IT'S TIME FOR THE RICH TO START PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE, PERIOD. We also need to close the inane loophole that lets corporations (robber barons) to avoid paying income taxes by using a foreign address. If things continue as the repugnicans want them to the country will have to change it's name to C.S.A. (Corporate States of America)!

    December 1, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Sniffit

    Bottom line: the majority of Americans do NOT favor extending tax cuts to the rich and the GOP is refusing to listen because they operate in an unrealistic ideological vacuum and with the sole purpose of securing their power through pandering to the exrtemely wealthy and corporate interests.

    Polls also show the majority of Americans want compromise, but all Senate GOPers signed a letter refusing to do any compromising whatsoever...all while sending "delegates" to preetnd to negotiate one in order to give themselves a farsical toe-hold for claiming that they tried and it was in fact the Dems who wouldn't compromise.

    Shenanigans. This is BUSINESS AS USUAL for the GOP, not change. This is EXACTLY what they've been doing for the past 2 years...nto change. Learning anything about what you bought with your votes on November 2, 2010, "independents"? Reap what you sow, morons.

    December 1, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. June

    And the Republicans have no problem holding the nation hostage until it gets what it wants. Typical!!

    December 1, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. mike

    the republicans like to talk out of both sides of there mouth and it is time for them to man up as they would like to say and if worse comes to worse then let the tax cuts expire the wealthy have a lot more to lose then the average joe

    December 1, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. TEW

    Tax cuts for the rich have not realized any benefit for the working class. These cuts do not spur job growth in the U.S. as all the jobs created have been shipped overseas where companies pay dirt wages and exploit workers for further profit. The reason why the Republicans want to deal with this first is for political pay-back to all corporations that donated/funded their false commercials over the mid-terms. Who in their right mind can say that tax cuts for the rich can come before extending unemployment benefits, national security i.e. the START negotiations. Russia has said they will begin building up their nuke arsenal without the treaty so in a way Republicans are political terrorist holding America's safety as hostage for personal/political gain. I hope all those folks in the rust belt and particularly those who sat on their hands and did not vote in the mid-terms see what mis-information and dereliction of civic duties can yeild. PS for those fiscal conservatives how are you liking your change as it relates to ear-marks. Their failure to keep their election promise is only the first in long line of broken promises on the horizon. Hope you're happy!!

    December 1, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
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