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percent saying tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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.

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Filed under: issues • Polls • Taxes
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    WHAT I FIND DISTURBING is that no one the public hears on TV or elsewhere speaking on this matter earns LESS THAN $250,000 a year. This gives a distorted perspective to the argument. The conservative (GOP) position has always been that money given to the rich 'Trickles Down' upon us with Golden Showers' of wealth. That because they receive on average $100,000 each from this government subsidy we who must borrow and additional $700,000,000,000 to pay for it will somehow benefit from jobs that these businesses ship overseas to be done by children in sweatshops.

    September 14, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. key

    The question is very miss leading most people don't understand that some company's pay less money in tax .

    September 14, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  3. Ron in Califonia

    Raising taxes on job creators is a dumb idea. The Dems keep talking about millionaire and Billionires but they have set the bar at 250K. As good an income as that is I can tell you most w-2 earners at that level don't consider themslves rich much less millionaires. The entire tax policy is in need of reform. Dems can villify the rich and corporations all they want but thats who creates the jobs. Obama's economic policies are failures.

    September 14, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. anonymous

    I have never seen such a dumb question. Ever. If you make over $200k you want the tax cuts, if you don't make $200k you dont want the tax cuts because it will affect you directly some other way now or later.

    September 14, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. Are you kidding me?

    What kind of a question is this? The tax cuts for the wealthiest should NOT be extended!!!! This is how we got in this mess in the first place. I don't care if they call it "socialism" or what they call it. There is no way to explain why the rest of America should suffer just so they can keep on making their YACHT payments! Their friends on the stock exchange are already bleeding everyone's 401K's dry and now they want to keep getting tax breaks besides? They would love it if we just gave them the "keys to the car we just pulled out of the ditch" (thank you President Obama, great analogy!), but that is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! We should all go to the polls in November AND 2012 and send what's left of the GOP packing with the keys to a car going straight off the "Bridge to Nowhere"!!!

    September 14, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Doc

    These were tax cuts that were supposed to pay for themselves according to Bush. Well it's been proven that they did not, even through all of the bonanza years of his administration before the fall. They will add another $7 billion to the deficit if kept. No-one wants to raise taxes (although I don't think allowing these tax cuts to end is raising taxes) but I don't see how we can continue down the road we're on. It's quite apparent the tax cuts didn't pay for themselves and although they have been in affect over the last three years (the year before Obama took over and two years since) the people earning over $200,000.00 haven't used the tax cuts to create jobs, just kept pocketing the difference. I think we're being held hostage by the monied interests. They're essentially saying "et us keep all of our money and don't regulate us or we'll kill the economic recovery".

    September 14, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  7. JBS

    No columnists or news reporters are are reporting accurately on this, that's why there is confusion.

    The proposal is to extend the tax-cuts for everyone, including all the super rich overpaid income earners, but only up to their first $250,000 of joint income. Republicans are trying to deceive everyone, by implying that the millionaire earners would get no tax-cut at all.

    Same tax-break limit proposed for all income earners = $250,000

    September 14, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. SethC

    Who do you think does the hiring for jobs, than the ones who have the money to pay wages to people. Lord, let us have some common sense.

    September 14, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. steve

    I wish the media would learn how to accurately describe the expiration of the 2001 EGTRRA tax cuts. Under the Obama/Democrat plan, the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans would not be "repealed", they would be allowed to expire. The Democrats would not be taking a thing away from the wealthiest among us. That decision, to allow those tax rates to expire at the end of 2010, was made by Vice President Cheney when he cast the deciding vote to pass the 2001 tax cuts in the first place. If anybody is "repealing" the tax cuts, it is the Republican-controlled Congress that existed in 2001.

    September 14, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. gt

    no,,,but how about a million dollars.. that is wealthy...those people can handel it,,,

    September 14, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. scott close

    The rich will not spend their tax windfall, and they do not need it to eat or find shelter, something not every american can say. If you are patriotic, you should be proud to pay taxes to support all of america, not just your personal bank account and the war efforts, that only kill the poor and enrich the wealthy.

    September 14, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Basic math


    Here is a headline that accurately represents the result of the Pew poll: Americans favor letting tax cuts for wealthy expire by 2:1 margin

    September 14, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Whatever

    So COMPROMISE – -raise the level from $250K (couple)/$200K (single) TO $550K (couple)/$500K (single), so that the tax break will cover the upper middle class. COMPROMISE!!!

    September 14, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Marie MD

    In spite what boner and his thugs say (that Americans wants this) one word . . . . . . NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 14, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Elsie Palmer

    I am hardly a wealthy person. I hold down a job and bring home a paycheck. I live in an old farmhouse. Fifteen years ago I also started up a small business which I hope will grow and prosper enough that at some point in time, I will be able to quit my day job and just run the business. The American dream.

    But in the meantime the income from that business is reported on my personal tax return just as I assume many other small business owners who act as sole proprietors do. Between our personal income and the income from the business our gross income is approaching that $250,000 mark. But out of that business income, there are salaries paid, insurance, supplies, property taxes, etc. I am already dealing with increased expenses due to several recent laws passed. Higher taxes will likely mean I will give up the dream. I already work a 16 hour day while a "poor" person gets to sleep in and then sit at home watching Oprah and Jerry Springer. Enough already.

    September 14, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. DumDum

    Remove the tack cuts all together and use that income as US Debt Reduction. As painful as it is to admit we need to start paying back our debt (maybe congress didn't see that they raised the minimum payments required–>pun intended)

    September 14, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. save america, vote out republicans

    Let the job killing and debt causing Bush tax cuts expire! Just do this one thing for our grandchildren, you worthless republicans.

    September 14, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. joanne daly

    I am not rich, however, if I were......I would not want to be penalized for working hard, spending thousands on a college education and investing properly. I think we are taxed enough in every arena of our lives. We are taxed on our income and taxed on our spending and all this for our Government to spend the money in any area they choose. Something needs to change......

    September 14, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. Matt

    I wanna extend tax cuts for the wealthy like I want AIDS, Herpes and Cancer all roled into one.

    September 14, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. me

    Give them to the middle class for 10 years. After that, we will call it even. In the 10 years you give to the middle class, we will probably do more to help our great country then the weathy did with all their wealth in 10 years. Wealth they probably got thru cheap or slave labor. NO tax break for the wealthy until the middle class finally gets their due.

    September 14, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. 1sr reality

    Left Unsaid by Republicans in their "deception campaign", of course...

    FACT: Top One Percent with Incomes over $ 200k and $ 250k for joint returns.... "ALSO Get Benefit Of REDUCED Tax Brackets and AMT Deduction UP TO $ 200K – $ 250k in Income"!

    However, Twitchy Mitch McConnel & John Boehner Team Will Never Mention or Admit This!

    September 14, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Ben

    We need to extend the Bush tax cuts for EVERYONE including the wealthy.

    September 14, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Anne L.

    I am all for taxing the rich. They have way too much money and it could be put to better use in the form of taxes.

    My husband and I work hard but we never get ahead. We do everything right. We pay our bills, we don't live beyond our means, we save for retirement but at the end of the month we don't have any extra money.

    September 14, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    If these tax cuts for the wealthy were supposed to stimulate the economy, what have they been doing with the money for the past 8 years? I have seen investments go to overseas manufacturing. I have seen jobs hemorrhaging in the states. Thanks to the "oversight" granted by the Republicans when they ran things our banks provided high-risk speculative loans to people who should never have received them. The result – we had to bail out those same banks with Middle-Class taxpayer monies. Then the same banks had the gall to pay bonuses to the people who caused these messes! Sorry, boys, but your policies, especially the insistence on tax cuts for those making over 250K are a joke. If you claim this prevents small business owners from investing in their companies' growth then they need to fire their accountants and get people managing their money that know what they are doing!

    September 14, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. John

    I do not understand your math. You say that a new poll says the country is divided on whether to reveal the tax cuts for the weathly, with 29% wanting to extend, 29% wanting to cut them but keep them for families under 250k, and 28% wanting to repeal both. That means that 57% want to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy and 29% want to keep them. How is that "evenly divded"? Twice as many people want to repeal tax cuts for the wealthy as want to keep them.

    September 14, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
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