September 14th, 2010
08:33 AM ET
12 years ago

Do Americans want to extend tax cuts for wealthy?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption =" A new poll indicates that Americans are divided on whether tax cuts should be rolled back for the wealthiest Americans."]

Washington (CNN) - Should tax cuts for the country's wealthiest income earners be extended?

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 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?

A new Pew Research Center Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll indicates the public's divided, with 29 percent saying tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 survey suggests 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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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.

The Pew Research Center/National Journal poll was conducted September 9-12, with 1,001 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

So what do other polls indicate?

A Gallup/USA Today survey conducted late last month indicates 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.

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.

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 says the tax cuts for families making over $250,000 should be rolled back, with 36 percent saying they should be made permanent.

According to a Ipsos/Reuters poll also conducted last month, 49 percent say tax cuts for all should be extended, with 31 percent saying they should expire for the wealthiest Americans and 15 percent calling for an end of the tax cuts for everyone.

And an AP-GfK survey from August indicates 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.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: issues • Polls • Taxes
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. rdepontb

    Rank and file Republicans are following the leaders on this one, just as they did in ruining health care, unemployment, economic repair bills....

    The average, sane Republican-on-the-street cares about these things as much as the Democrat-on-the-street. Both are for honor, family, health, country. Neither one is for the kind of spiteful attacks and and ploys that have halted the federal government these past two years.

    If your party leaders are willing to bring down the nation to chase a black man out of the white house, are you in turn willing to go along with that? What won't they like the next time around...the lower 98% of wage earners getting any benefits at all? After all, they don't create any jobs, do not produce anything, and so do not represent this country's interests, right? Why give these poor suckers anything at all? They would just fritter it away. Right?

    September 14, 2010 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. pa mom

    I am not in the "wealthy" bracket but please tell me why the burdon of this country should fall so heavily upon those who are successful, those who have worked hard and invested wisely and those who were responsible for themselves. With a population of 333 mil and less than half paying taxes, is it right to punish them? Personally, I think it would be fair to have a blanket tax for EVERYONE and no refund on this amount. This country offers everyone the opportunity to just need the determination. There are citizens who feel they have the "right" to everything others have worked hard to achieve and their debts prove this. Make everyone responsible!

    September 14, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  3. Tom in Illinois

    I am a small business owner in Illinois. Raise my taxes and I have two options. Raise my product prices or lay off employees. I can't raise prices due to China competion. What's left. Thanks Big O.

    September 14, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I certainly don't want the wealthy receiving a tax cut. They've had 10 years of them and have not created jobs. I don't know alot of middle-class, blue collar workers that make more than 250k a year. Enough is enough already!

    September 14, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. Eric

    Think about it people... has a poor man ever offered you a job?

    Has a poor man ever HIRED you for a job?

    Has a poor man ever signed your paycheck?

    In 25 years in the workplace, my boss has always been wealthier than I have... hmm, seems there must be some kind of connection between actually having money BEFORE you hire people.

    Sure, tax the rich for "middle class tax cuts..." all it will likely cost you is your job... or the next job. So you decide... a few hundred bucks this year, or a job.

    Besides, we need to be honest about this... this has nothing to do with "Bush tax cuts." Let's call it what it truly is... the largest ever tax hike in modern American history, the "Obama Tax Hike."

    September 14, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. Liz the First

    This issue clearly illustrates the monumental hypocrisy of the republicans, fiercely defending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while at the same time screaming about the deficit, which, by the way, FELL THIS YEAR UNDER OBAMA!!!!!!!! let me repeat that, THE DEFICIT FELL THIS YEAR UNDER OBAMA!!!!! the Democrats are getting a handle on the economy, which is growing slowly but steadily. putting repubs back in charge would put the country back into the ditch and over the cliff. let the folks who actually spend the money buying things that grow the economy keep it and let the wealthy, who've become much more wealthy under republican rule, pay their fair share again. they'll get even more wealthy as the economy improves so they win either way!

    September 14, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. jay

    NO Bush tax extension for the rich, it does not work in creating jobs,millions of jobs lost during these cuts.

    September 14, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Mark, NY

    In a truly fair society – EVERONB should pay tax from the poor to the rich. Everyone needs schools, roads, police, firefighters, garbage collectors, street cleaners, parks and the country defended by the military and covert services.

    The rich should pay more but everyone uses the services and the lower income folks use more services than rich ones as a general rule.

    The lowst income should pay at least 1% and the rich have their tax breaks repealed. The rich maybe rich but they arent infinite and if you soak them too much they just move their captital overseas.

    Until we are out of this financial mess – all tax breaks need to be repealed including loopholes. But the socialists running the government need to understand that the resulting increase in revenues aren't to be spent on some Venezuelan style socialists spending spree.

    September 14, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    No, but since the "wealthy" includes most of Congress.......getting them to ok raising their own taxes is NOT likely. Even the Dems won't vote for it.

    September 14, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. wileysee

    this is the most confusing poll results I've ever seen. Thanks CNN.

    September 14, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  11. sharon

    Let them expire!!!! The wealthy have not helped the job market so farwhen they could have. Since they give so much money to the Repubs, cut off some of their funds. Since they have so many loopholes to save them from paying taxes, how could this even hurt them????

    September 14, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. G

    America wants everyone's taxes to stay exactly where they are under the Bush tax cuts...that means, poor, middle class, rich and small business because that will help the economy get better.

    In the long term American wants the government to cut spending in order to balance the budget. We need a smaller, leaner, more effective government. Frankly, until Secretary Gietner and Representative Rangel serve time for not paying their taxes, They need to stop trying to raise ours.

    September 14, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. work harder

    i was poor with no hand outs period. I worked my but off and now I am rich. Americans are lazy and expect handouts, they actually have become addicted to a free ride. I say NO!! Unless you are handicapped and unable to work I say work or starve. I did and it worked. Get a job quit living free off those who do work. Oh poor people dont hire people rich people hire people real smart tax the rich so there is less cash available to hire the unemployed.

    September 14, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. welches, oregon

    and the beat goes on....

    September 14, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. welches, oregon

    What is wrong with CNN these days? Hell your own poll shows 74% against tax cuts for the wealthy.

    September 14, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. Dis-gusted

    In discussing Dubwys's tax break for the wealthy on news shows, etc., I have heard some of the wealthy say they do no know why that happened in the first place; they did not need the money So, they should be rolled back for the wealthy at the minimum, and due to the financial shape the country is in, perhaps also rolled back for others who have jobs. I believe Dubwy was trying to do a lot of things to make up for what he felt his Daddy goofed up on like "Read my lips, no new taxes," the war taken into Iraq, etc.

    September 14, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. katiec

    Many prominent millionaires and billionaires have stated they do not need these tax cuts and will make little difference in "their survival".
    Yet the republicans continue on with their undying love for Wall St and the rich while ignoring, voting against anything to help the middle class, our country.
    They have done nothing these last 20 months but try to obstruct, destroy any advancement, progress in our economy ALL for the sake of regaining power and winning this next election..
    And, they plan to continue with the politics as usual which almost destroyed our country.
    America, we cannot allow a political party who puts their misguided, irresponsible goals over the survival of our country and us back into power.
    It will be the destruction of middle class, etc as we know it today.

    September 14, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  18. Right Leaning Independent

    Those that depend on the countries welfare system will support taxing the rich more! Those that work hard and are not rich understand that the rich should not be penalized more for being successful. I would also argue that the rich are the first to be hit. The middle class will be next because government wants more money to spend and they can only take so much from the rich before having to go after the middle class. It is a novel idea but how about decrease spending and leave the tax rates alone!!!

    September 14, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. Nick San Diego

    The reason we;re in this mess, is because the tax code over the past 25 years has favored the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
    Don;t take my word for it, check it out yourself .Google MARGINAL TAX RATES SINCE 1913.
    As they lowered the % of taxes, they also lowered the income level to a point where the wealthy pay at a same rate as a middle class couple.

    September 14, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. pklqysz

    Trillions of dollars in debt, most of which came from Republican administrations even with Republicans in control of Congress! Now they would rather keep borrowing from China rather than do something about it? And don't give me any bull about Republicans wanting to cut spending, I already fell for that line and voted Republucan too often already! Republicans spend like drunken sailers whenever they are in charge. At least the Democrats are honest about what they are going to do.

    September 14, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. Rob Johnson

    I'm an American, and I say no.

    The wealthy class in this country is the more overentitled, spoiled group of humans ever to draw breath. They need to stop thinking about themselves, suck it up and help out the country.

    If you make over 250,000 a year and whine about paying a few taxes, you should immediately be dropped off in the slums of Bangladesh.

    September 14, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. Blablabla

    Tax cuts for the wealthy ? Why do you think we are in such an economic mess ? And a huge deficit ? Because this is exactly what Mr. Bush did. Gave huge tax cuts to the wealthy.

    September 14, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. Ben in Texas

    So, looking at the numbers a different way, only 29% said they wanted welfare for the rich to be extended. It is well documented that about 30% of the electorate is made up of the hard core stupid, so this 29% is quite understandable. It's the same bunch who approved of Bush at his low ebb.

    Tax cuts on the rich have the same effect as spending increases. They are a perk given by the shrinking middle class to "their betters". They have a negative effect on the economy. If they are allowed to expire (they should never have been instituted), we will get back to zero deficits at some point. If not, deficits will continue to grow. If we eliminate all the Bush tax cuts (that word "Bush" should tell you they were wrong in the first place!) we will be back in the black in 5 years, without doing anything else.

    September 14, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. BOBBY

    Roll back all the taxes someone has to pay for the debt you are leaving for your kids. Everyone should sacrifice a little. Grow up America you cant spend spend spend and expect everything to vanish. Lets be adult about the piper and get your economic house in order. I understand repealing all the tax breaks will go a long way top achieving this plus it will show the world you are serious about reducing that debt. We have to balance our budgets at home or we would all be bankrupt why should the government .We all have to help and give up a little. GET SERIOUS

    September 14, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. jackson cussons

    This isn't anything new... You tax the rich at a higher bases, they won't expand, most likely become smaller or close shop. Which means loss of more jobs, less taxe revenue.. Seems 101 to me, why don't the Feds get it???

    September 14, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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