Washington (CNN) - A new poll indicates a majority of Americans are OK with raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 per year as part of a deal to prevent the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.
A Quinnipiac University national survey released Thursday is the second in two days and third over the past week and a half to indicate public support for raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 per year. A tax increase for high income Americans has been a major sticking point between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans in negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff.
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Last year Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to a program to reduce the federal deficit that is referred to as the fiscal cliff. Unless Congress and the president reach an agreement by the end of the year, tax rates will automatically rise next year for nearly all Americans and major spending cuts will automatically begin to kick in for most government spending programs, including military programs.
At issue in the negotiations is a disagreement between the two major political parties over how to best raise the federal government's revenues. The president and most congressional Democrats argue for tax rate increases on the wealthiest Americans in order to raise revenue, while most congressional Republicans call for the closing of tax loopholes and deductions, overall tax code reform.. Both parties have indicated a willingness to implement spending cuts, some kind of reforming of entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, although specifics over how much and where have yet to be made.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, 65% of registered voters support higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 per year. Eighty-four percent of Democrats and two-thirds of independent voters questioned support such a move, but Republicans are opposed by a 53%-41% margin.
An Associated Press/GfK survey released Wednesday indicated that a plurality favor letting tax cuts expire for the country's top earners, and 60% of those questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week said they supported such a move. The public opinion polls are in-line with the national exit polls from the November election, which indicated that 60% of voters said that taxes should be raised on incomes over $250,000.
As with the Quinnipiac poll, the ABC News/Washington Post survey also indicated that most Democrats and independents support the move, with a majority of Republicans opposed.
As for raising taxes on capital gains, which may also on the bargaining table, the Quinnipiac survey indicates support by a 47%-40% plurality.
While raising taxes on higher income Americans appears popular, the public apparently doesn't want changes to Medicare, the federally administered program which guarantees access to health insurance for those 65 and older, and for younger people with disabilities.
By a 51%-44% margin, the Quinnipiac poll indicates the public opposes gradually raising the age for Medicare eligibility. Two-thirds of those questioned in the ABC/Washington Post poll also objected to raising the age from 65 to 67, and plurality in the AP/GfK poll say the same thing. And only three in ten of people surveyed in that poll support the slowing of growth of annual Social Security benefits.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, seven out of ten oppose cutting Medicaid spending.
A plurality (48%-43%) in the Quinnipiac survey say that the president and Congress will reach agreement on a plan to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff. A plurality in the ABC News/Washington Post poll was pessimistic about a deal being struck by Obama and congressional Republicans.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted November 28-December 3, with 1,949 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.