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saying tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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

    Of course. Tax the rich and pay off our national debt.

    September 14, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    Fight the deficit on the backs of the Middle Class by filibustering extension of Unemployment Benefits(twice). But NEVER by asking the wealthy, who usually inherited it, to sacrifice for the country they claim to LOVE so much.

    September 14, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Hugo

    250K a year does not define rich...initiate the FAIR TAX. Why should the productive portion of our society have to pay for those that are not, it will just make them be less productive to avoid the persecution? Why has our healthcare system failed? Too many people using the Emergency rooms at hospitals that are Federally mandated to treat them no matter the ill with the costs passed on to the responsible tax paying citizens and their insurance companies. Why has our Social Security system failed? Too many taking out that did not contribute and too many politicians raiding the fund to pay for other entitlements. It does not take too much common sense to understand that when you take from those that have earned to give to those that have not makes for the recipe of failure of whatever the social program may be. There is No such thing as a Free lunch, someone always must pick up the tab! Get rid of these idiots in November and in 2012!

    September 14, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. New Age Independant

    If it means the so called "wealthy" can now afford to offer jobs, then YES. I think more people could benefit by feeding their families.

    September 14, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. doug corder

    Not sure what survey you are looking at but the one I saw was 73% said continue to tax the rich and extend the cut for the poor and middle class.

    September 14, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why should those that make more get away with paying less. I don't see them contributing to social services and charities that help people here in this country. Where are the rich people donating to food banks and soup kitchens? Where are they helping out social services that keep people off the streets and finding jobs?

    September 14, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Mike

    Extend the tax cuts for the middle class and let the tax cuts for the rich expire. The rich have already proven they will send jobs overseas and while simultaneously receiving huge tax cuts. Since they send American jobs overseas, they deserve to be taxed higher. It's the middle class who spends money in the economy and keeps it moving.

    September 14, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. Robert

    The government is running a trillion dollar deficit. We cannot afford to cut anyone's taxes. We need massive spending cuts and modest tax increases or modest spending cuts and massive tax increases, but we absolutely cannot continue to cut taxes or increase spending and certainly not both. Eventually this debt will destroy this country. Everybody has to pay one way or the other.

    September 14, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Bob in PA

    If you are an individual taxpayer and not a company with Income exceeding 500,000 then yes, you can afford to pay some extra without hurting. But it shouldn't be punative.

    September 14, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It all depends if you want a job or not. Extending ALL of the Bush Tax Cuts for at least 4 more years will help the recovery and lower unemployment. Killing the Bush Tax Cuts for the So Called Wealthy will only prevent companies from hiring. Maybe someday people will stop voting against themselves when entering the voting booth. You Figure?

    September 14, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Snow

    I am middle class and I say the upper income earners are taxed to much already. They are not hiring because they see this administration stealing more money from them, inhibiting their ability to grow their business. I have never got a job from a poor person.

    September 14, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. LL

    I read the poll as 57% want to tax the rich

    September 14, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. Orlando Patriot

    This country cannot survive by continuously criticizing those who are successful. That is what made this country great!! Everyone knowing that if they work hard, apply themselves, take risks, and have that entreprenuarial spirit they can be successful!! Just ask yourself: Why would a person go to school for six years to get a Masters degree, hold off getting married or having children, work 16 hours a day, put in all their heart and soul into a business if the government is going to take most away IF you are successful because you make "too much money"? If not successful you go bankrupt. What is the incentive to actually starting or running a business today?

    The Obama administration is actually CREATING an atmosphere of non-motivation. Obama wants all of us DEPENDENT on the government. Are you not smart enough to see that?Obama does not WANT businesses to succeed. If he did then why has he added so many additional costs over the last two years and now the threat of the BIGGEST tax increase in history to the business owners? At a time when our economy is struggling? WAKE UP AMERICA!!

    September 14, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Every

    I think Americans have awakened and now realize repuglicans are for the rich and corporations! This Bush tax cut controversy is a prime example of repuglican ideology! Repuglicans are for the status quo, rich, powerful, and wealthy! Their constituients have been "hoodwinked" and "bamboozled," by a group of racist etremist who do not love the average American, just the rich and connections to their money! Repuglican and tea neck party politics will destoy America not President Obama's policies!

    September 14, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. America Shrugged

    If you continue to reduce revenues coming into the treasury during high unemployment, where is the money going to come from to pay for war debt, medicare part D, and 2 massive tax cuts which were suppose to pay for themselves ( lol ) by creating jobs, jobs, jobs? I guess the answer is to cut Medicare, SS, unemployment, food stamp program, section 8, any welfare to work program, and just hope those folks can fend for themselves. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Would cutting these programs make a dent in our deficits in the short term? What happens to local economies who are struggling with unemployment and depend on these programs during tough economic times? What happens to all those mortgages, where folks are at least able to make a mortgage payment with unemployment insurance? Do jobs get magically created because a mult-millionaire received an extra 100,000 this year in tax breaks? It's easy to think that by cutting these programs, all our ills will go away, but the truth of the matter is that right now, it would only make them worse. Ah, so many questions, so few answers.

    September 14, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. charlie from the North

    My kids might read this site so I will just say "Heck-no!"

    September 14, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Marc

    I think the tax cuts are fine. If we take the cuts away, the $$ earned from the wealthy will just be spent on something. Government should take a cue from Americans, who are cutting back on debt...let's see how much debt we can shed and how little we can spend. Practice fiscal responsibility!

    September 14, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Four and The Door

    Of course tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year ( wealthy? really? ) are not going to be popular across the board. But then are they as unpopular as high unemployment and a stagnant economy? It's all about how you phrase the question.

    If the Democrats are serious about addressing the economy they will understand that part of the solution is making unpopular decisions like not raising taxes on the people who create jobs.

    September 14, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. King

    Americans are the most fareful and intolerent people on earth. Fox news and the repugs are using these attributes around the clock on this president without shred of facts. Fare is the tool the army uses to change young recruiter years of beleif system.

    September 14, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. MAhole

    NO, WE DO NOT.

    Those who can most afford it should pay. They won't spend the extra $$. They will only invest it to make more $$ which will not spur the economic recovery.

    We need to keep the "Shrub" tax cuts for the working people – because WE will spend the $$ and stimulate the economy........

    September 14, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. kelly

    A dual family income at $250,00, does not mean that family is "rich"! Most of these familes are paying off the school degrees that allow them to make $250,000. Coupled with increasing child care costs, families making $250,000 are just getting by too!

    September 14, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. ThinkAgain

    Here's the real question:

    Given that the Bush tax cuts have NOT resulted in more job creation and a healthier economy here in the U.S., and have resulted in turning the Clinton surplus into a huge deficit, why would anyone even consider extending the tax cuts for the wealthy?

    The extra money the wealthy have gotten from the Bush tax cuts was spent on building factories overseas where labor is cheap and environmental regulations don't exist. Millions of jobs were lost here in the US as a result.

    The Republicans have had their chance – and their economic (let alone their military and foreign) policies are proven failures.

    Only a fool would want to continue them.

    September 14, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. timz

    "Should tax cuts for the country's wealthiest income earners be extended?"

    Hell, no! If tax cuts for the wealthy were good for the economy we'd be booming instead of in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Real, sustained economic activity doesn't "trickle down" from the wealthy–wealth "trickles up" from a strong and vibrant middle class.

    September 14, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  24. charlie from the North

    BTW, 29% think they should be extended to the wealthy if you subtract the 4% who actually are wealthy that is 25%. 25% of America thinks a lot of stuff: Obama is Muslim, the world is 6000 years old, global warming is fake, George W Bush did a good job, the world is flat, etc.

    Now whatever you think about that 25%, they vote. So if you would like that 25% to be the majority just stay home on election day because that's what will happen if you do stay home.

    After all just one vote doesn't mean much and they are all the same anyway. Yeah tell that to the millions of people whose lives were touched by the Bush Administration.

    September 14, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. Keith in Austin

    The Poll Question should have said; Do you favor raising taxes on small business owners that employ millions of Americans?

    September 14, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
1 2 3 4