Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy
May 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years ago

Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy

(CNN) – Of the three major controversies plaguing the Obama administration in recent weeks, the drama surrounding the Internal Revenue Service is the most pressing to U.S. voters in a new survey.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 44% of registered voters say the IRS probe of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status is the most important. A little fewer than a quarter - 24% - say the Obama administration's handling of last year's terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, is of the most concern, while 15% say the same about the Justice Department's seizure of phone records of Associated Press reporters.

But a large majority, 73% to 22%, say improving the economy is a higher priority than these three issues, according to the survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans say a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the IRS's targeting of conservative groups. Broken down by party, 63% of Democrats want such an independent probe, while 88% of Republicans say the same thing.

A plurality - 44% to 33% - say members of Congress who criticize the administration over the IRS controversy are raising "legitimate concerns." Current and former IRS employees have appeared for congressional hearings in recent weeks, with more scheduled to come.

"There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters apparently don't like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don't exactly think highly of him."

According to the survey, only 23% of voters approve of the job Holder is doing, compared with 39% who disapprove.

Regarding Benghazi, a plurality - 44% to 32% - say the criticism from congressional Republicans over the administration's handling of the terror attack is "just politics." As for the seizure of journalists' phone records, 37% of voters say such action raises "legitimate concerns," while 24% disagree.

As for President Barack Obama, his job approval rating stands at 49% in a new CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the six most recent nonpartisan, live-operator national surveys of the president's approval rating; 46% said they disapprove. The polls were conducted in the past two weeks, after the IRS and AP controversies made national headlines. The president's rating stands little changed from the CNN Poll of Polls conducted over the whole month of April, which showed the approval-disapproval split at 49-47.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 1,419 registered voters were surveyed May 22-28, with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: IRS • Justice Department • Libya • Polls
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    just askin wrote:

    stop playing with numbers and being deceitful. multi-millionaires spent more actual dollars. percentage of their income has nothing whatsoever to do with anything when it comes to how much they pay in taxes. all you lefties have is just smoke and mirror bs. it gets rather tiresome hearing the same old lies over and over in here.
    ----------------
    The wealthy pay more in taxes because they consume more of the nation's resources. They take more trips by airplane, and the air traffic controllers must be paid, the runways repaired. You say that they consume more consumer goods, and so the roads must be maintained. They might own companies that do the same, and those companies need to pay taxes to pay for their consumption.

    "stop playing with numbers and being deceitful" = "stop bombarding me with the facts and the truth"

    May 30, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. okfine

    @WhatIsTruth

    Exactly. The fact is we do not know who all of the organizations were that were scrutinized are. We do know that the one that was denied was a Democratic organization, Emerge America. The scandal here is that ALL of these applications, on both sides of the political spectrum, are not being scrutinized more closely.

    May 30, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Joe Rockbottom

    It's not really a scandal. NONE of the groups were denied their tax status, so what is the big deal? In fact most of the groups were little things that only had a few thousand in revenue. There were simply a deluge of these groups trying to cash in on a dubious tax status so the IRS was proper to look more closely at them. After all, who is more likely to scam the government than people who hate the government and hate paying taxes?

    May 30, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. techie

    Funny how CNN switched polls at the end. They used the Quinnipiac poll throughout until they got to Obama...and here is why:

    Mr. Obama’s job approval rating now stands at 45% positive vs. 49% negative, hurt by a sharp shift in independents’ views. That’s a turnaround from his marks in a May 1 Quinnipiac survey, which had his rating at 48% positive and 45% negative

    May 30, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    So tell me, counselor... would you consider the fact that FICA taxes are capped at a certain income level regressive?
    --–
    You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least."
    ===

    "Indeed. The attempt to one-up me exhibited a fundamental non-understanding of what "regressive" and "progressive" mean and how they are measured."
    -----
    A classic Sniffit non-answer. So I will rephrase.

    ANY tax that taxes ALL people the same rate (such as sales taxes, cigarette taxes, gasoline taxes), the left considers "regressive". So everyone pays the same FICA rate (6.2%) and it's capped at a specific income level. The question is – do you consider that regressive? It's not a difficult question...

    May 30, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. bob

    Quinnipiac University poll:

    "Mr. Obama’s job approval rating now stands at 45% positive vs. 49% negative, hurt by a sharp shift in independents’ views."

    May 30, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    just askin wrote:

    Investing is not spending. The argument also makes the naive assumption that ALL of their spending will be within US borders.
    -

    investing creates income which is taxed. again, more money for government that the non-millionaires do not contribute.

    no assumptions are made about where their money is spent. but only a clueless dolt would think millionaires with several homes in the usa do not spend money here on many many things. or are you to have us believe they are buying everything overseas and having it all shipped back here? again, you are full of nothing but unproven and totally ridiculous bs.
    ------------
    Under your plan, money spent on investments is not spending, so it wouldn't be taxed. Yet you argue above that the income from investments would be taxed (???), which is fundamental contradiction and flaw in your argument, sir.

    I never said that millionaires would not spend money domestically, you did. I simply pointed out that the argument that has been put forth makes the assumption that ALL of the spending would occur within US borders.

    Face the facts, you've lost the argument before it even began. You've reduced yourself to name calling, which is another obvious sign that you've lost. I'll take the point. Have a nice day.

    May 30, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    The wealthy pay more in taxes because they consume more of the nation's resources. They take more trips by airplane, and the air traffic controllers must be paid, the runways repaired. You say that they consume more consumer goods, and so the roads must be maintained. They might own companies that do the same, and those companies need to pay taxes to pay for their consumption.

    "stop playing with numbers and being deceitful" = "stop bombarding me with the facts and the truth"
    --------
    Oh really? Who uses more in government services? Medicaid, welfare, fuel assistance, food stamps... ? It's not the "wealthy". So someone who makes a million per year and pays $400K in taxes should pay that much because he or she takes more airplane rides? Ridiculous.

    May 30, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Jerry

    And, in every case, including the IRS scandal, Mr. Obama knew "noting" about it. This man lies to the face of the Américan populace and is getting away with it. Wow!!! This man and his scoundrel supporters are a shame to América.

    May 30, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. bla

    I get why people are concerned about this, it's because the IRS is a very powerful agency. When they say you owe money, you can't really contest it.

    If peoples' faith in them to be fair is undermined, then we do have a serious problem. But it's very unlikely the oval office had anything to do with this one. The Benghazi gloss-over is a much bigger issue for the white house because officials working there were the ones who ordered the "revisions".

    May 30, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Oh really? Who uses more in government services? Medicaid, welfare, fuel assistance, food stamps... ? It's not the "wealthy". So someone who makes a million per year and pays $400K in taxes should pay that much because he or she takes more airplane rides? Ridiculous.
    -------------
    What's ridiculous is arguing that someone making a million per year pays $400K in federal income taxes. What's ridiculous is someone making $50K per year paying $15K in income taxes, FICA, and Medicare/Medicaid. What's reidiculous is that they pay another $4k in their local sales taxes, 8%. What's ridiculous is that the still pay another $4k per year in property taxes, if they own a home.

    Add it all up, and it comes up to them paying between $19K and $23K per year, which is an annual rate between 38% and 46%.

    May 30, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    @Fair

    Almost forgot. The main reason why a consumption tax is ridiculous is because there are no taxes on interstate purchases. They don't even have to purchase outside of US borders to make tax-free purchases.

    May 30, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Christian Grey

    Look at the danger that two of these scandals present. The IRS using their legal status to support the current administration. This is what we would see in Russia or Venezuela or any country ran by a dictatorship. Now couple this with the Justice department trying to destroy the press especially a press organization that speaks to the opposition of the current administration. This in my eyes is an attack on our countries freedom and I would call it treason.

    May 30, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. john west

    I am so sick of repubs complaining and whining. they will never get over it and move on. and they need to, badly.

    May 30, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Michman

    The Right are trying to frame this that conservative groups were being targeted because they were conservative. The truth is that they were breaking tax law at a far higher frequency than left leaning groups. I'm betting a thorough examination of why this "targeting" took place will cast a different light on this debate.

    May 30, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Sashatree

    The problem is the TAX CODE – which must be completely overhauled! There should be no such animal as a 501(c)(4)!!!!!!!! DO AWAY WITH THEM!!! The IRS issue is nothing close to a scandal, nor is the AP/press issue and certainly not Benghazi! THE REAL SCANDAL IS WHAT THE GOP AND TEA PARTY HAVE DONE TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY AND FUNCTIONALITY IN DC SINCE 2008!!!!!! The GOP screams and yells about how we need to create jobs – AND SCREWS EVERY CHANCE OF ACCOMPLISHING WHENEVER THEY CAN! They LIE!!! They OBSTRUCT!! They create distractions and smoke screens in hopes that nobody will realize THEY HAVE NO SOLUTIONS, NO IDEAS, NOTHING TO CONTRIBUTE AS A PUBLIC SERVANT – all while they suckle on the tax payer's teats!

    May 30, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. snotfair

    Any loss of life in any scandal should be @ the top. This includes all the people who have committed suicide due to financial hardships resulting from IRS audits + loss of employment. I also agree Holder has to go- he is a gutless wonder w/ bigger testicles than an elephant to think 'We the People' believe anything that he spews from his mouth!

    May 30, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Lisa P.

    "Wolf!" cried the GOP, "Wolf! Wolf! WOLF!!!!" But the people had wised up, and no one listened.

    The sad thing is that when there really were wolves running loose the GOP said nothing, because the wolves were fellow Republicans and a percentage of the bribes and kickbacks were going into the party's coffers.

    May 30, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Evelyn Connaway

    Actually, the only scandal is the people who take advantage of the 501C -4 and other non-profit organizations so that they do not have to pay taxes. They are corrupt and greedy. No one involved in politics should be able to apply for this privilege.
    I agree the IRS hasn't been doing their jobs as they should all these years, when they let any of them pass and receive this status. We need to change our tax reform bill now – so that no one gets away without paying their fair share through all the loopholes put there by Tax Attorney's, Lobbyists, Corporations and Congressmen. They waste their time auditing the little people and businesses because they can't seem to touch the real crooks and criminals. If you've got the money you can buy your way out of anything, by bribing the courts, including the Supreme Court, as least part of them – all republicans! May their time and life soon end!

    May 30, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. sly

    The IRS Is paid to regulate and enforce the tax laws.

    Tax Fraud is a huge problem, and these political action groups like the Tea Bag Party NEED to be researched and regulated.

    Thank you IRS for doing your job to try and generate tax dollars for important projects, like repairing America's bridges!

    May 30, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    What's ridiculous is arguing that someone making a million per year pays $400K in federal income taxes. What's ridiculous is someone making $50K per year paying $15K in income taxes, FICA, and Medicare/Medicaid. What's reidiculous is that they pay another $4k in their local sales taxes, 8%. What's ridiculous is that the still pay another $4k per year in property taxes, if they own a home.

    Add it all up, and it comes up to them paying between $19K and $23K per year, which is an annual rate between 38% and 46%.
    ----------
    You're way out there... for sure.

    Someone making $50K per year pays 7.65% in Medicare & FICA, totalling just over $3800. A single taxpayer making $50K per year claims a personal exemption of $10K and a standard deduction of right around $8K, leaving a taxable amount of $32K, placing him or her in the 10% tax bracket, or $3200. And $4K in local sales taxes?????? At an 8% sales tax rate, that would mean they would have to spends EVERY PENNY of that $50K income on taxable purchases. You cannot possibly be this obtuse.

    May 30, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Taranga

    Rudy NYC wrote:

    The wealthy pay more in taxes because they consume more of the nation's resources. They take more trips by airplane, and the air traffic controllers must be paid, the runways repaired. You say that they consume more consumer goods, and so the roads must be maintained. They might own companies that do the same, and those companies need to pay taxes to pay for their consumption.

    "stop playing with numbers and being deceitful" = "stop bombarding me with the facts and the truth"
    ---------------------------------------------–
    Resources consumed are paid for to be consumed by said entities just as the purchases anyone makes whether it be at a hot-dog stand or at a car dealership.

    Now the biggest consumption of resources comes from those who do not contribute to a societies growth. Especially those who wire transfer tax free income to their home countries or just enjoy living the below the poverty line to accumulate as many welfare/subsidies without ever having to get off the couch.

    To those honestly trying to reach above the poverty line, this message is not intended for you.

    May 30, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. First One

    If this is the "Most important Scandal", then Obama must be doing pretty good. This is meaningless. Of course you should be audited when you put down "Tax Exempt"

    May 30, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Dave

    News shown elsewhere: A Washington Free Beacon investigation has identified at least five pro-Israel organizations that have been audited by the IRS in the wake of a coordinated campaign by White House-allied activist groups in 2009 and 2010.

    Many of the charities openly clashed with the Obama administration's policy of opposing Israeli settlement construction over the so-called "Green Line," which marks the pre-1967 boundary between Israel and the West Bank and West and East Jerusalem.

    May 30, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Michele

    Here we go again....... The House is placing blame on the Obama Administration again (without proof). Now there will be another committee to investigate. I refuse to hear anything the House has to say until there is a new budget in place. Enough!!

    May 30, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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