September 16th, 2010
08:36 AM ET
13 years ago

Do Americans want to extend tax cuts for wealthy?

Washington (CNN) - Should tax cuts for the country's wealthiest income earners be extended? A majority of people questioned in most polls conducted over the past month say no.

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, but not all, congressional 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?

According to a new New York Times/CBS News survey, 53 percent say the Obama administration's proposal to let tax cuts for households earning $250,000 or more per year expire is a good idea, with 38 percent saying it's a bad idea. But only 19 percent say it's a good idea to allow tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 to sunset, with nearly three in four saying it's bad idea.

Twenty-nine percent of people questioned in a Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll released earlier this week say tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, with an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 Pew survey suggested 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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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.

Other recent survey's have similar findings.

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

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

And an AP-GfK survey from August indicated 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.

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.

Not surprisingly, the CNN survey also indicated a partisan divide, with Republicans tending to favor tax cuts for all, while Democrats prefer Obama's proposal. Half of all Republicans questioned wanted tax cuts on all income brackets to be extended while only 13 percent of Democrats felt that way. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Democrats favored rolling back tax cuts for wealthier Americans while only 40 percent of Republicans felt the same way.

But not all polls agree. According to a Ipsos/Reuters poll also conducted last month, 49 percent said tax cuts for all should be extended, while 31 percent said they should expire for the wealthiest Americans and 15 percent called for an end of the tax cuts for everyone.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: issues • Taxes
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Jaybird

    Why are we allowing the Republicans a pass on debates or having them tell us what they have to offer? What are they going do for my vote? No how can the Republican justify getting in debt for people that are living well. The Republicans keep say if they do not get a tax cut it would lose jobs but where are the job now they have had these tax cut for years now reminder people it was a Bush Tax Cut.

    September 16, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    To make it more difficult for the wealthy to invest their wealth to put Americans back to work is of course stupid, but the Obama administration will never win any awards for having the best and brightest. They are idealogical, they see the wealthy Americans as paying for their supporters continuing to be able to avoid working and still by drugs. I think Obama is part of one of those Mexican drug cartels, he is corrupt enough and he has surrounded himself with thugs.

    September 16, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. jim

    Why don't we just give the rich everything? Our crappy government is owned by the rich anyway. I'm surprised it has taken as long as it has for Washington to give the rich more. At last they gave to poor old wall street.

    The poor rich – cry me a river.

    Help the economy? Ha Ha Ha!!

    Which global economy will this help??? India? China? Certainly not America. Who is our sh** "Rich" government trying to fool?

    Our government sucks – BIG TIME!

    September 16, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. Rob Johnson

    Even the Bush Administration, with their simple-minded belief that cutting taxes was the cure-all for everything, wasn't stupid enough to think that these tax cuts should be permanent. That's why they are set to expire in the first place.

    If cutting taxes on the rich was the solution to all our problems, we'd be living in an economic utopia right now. Look around. Does this look like Utopia to you?

    September 16, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. skmadison

    Just remember, if the GOP keeps saying no. The tax cuts expire, and everyones taxes go up.

    September 16, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. Doyle Wiley, MI

    No cuts for the wealthiest.

    September 16, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. Mike

    Time to pay up for two unfunded wars, the medicare prescription drug plan and TARP bailout.

    September 16, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  8. Norm

    We have the old argument that the wealthy worked hard for their fabulous fortunes, but truth be told, most of it was handed down to them from the people that did work hard for it, or they were set up in life by friends or relatives that were also given their wealth. It's a who you know issue, not a what you have done to deserve it. Some of these people have money than they could ever spend in many lifetimes and they balk at contributing their fair share to the society that made them ridiculously wealthy. Greed and entitlement and no concern for anyone outside their little world.

    September 16, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. ED FL

    I can assure you that Me and my family will vote against every politician Democrat or republican that votes to give the wealthy a further Tax break. I am a retired ,disabled veteran and have been denied my cost of living increase the past and for sure this year. 22 yrs in the military, a couple of wars and 40 yrs of cold war and can not get a cost of living increase, yet both parties are pushing to give tax relief to the wealthy and not for the working people.No wonder their is a tea party and independent party. Your all crooked for a fee/donation.

    September 16, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. cecilia

    not no but hell no

    September 16, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  11. Michael

    By definition, the wealthy are those of us who least need help of any kind. They have come through the recession without having lost their sources of income or their large and luxurious homes or their Ferraris or private jets or apartments on the French Riviera, etc, etc.
    To insinuate that they need an extension of tax cuts they hardly needed in the first place, while the rest of us scrabble for survival and hope we don't need medical attention, is a slap in the face of the endangered middle class. To threaten us with job elimination if they don't get the tax cuts extended is blackmail of the vilest sort. Sabotaging the livelihood of your countrymen in retaliation for a loss of welfare for the rich is nothing short of treasonous.

    September 16, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. Jilli

    Continuing the bush tax cuts for the wealthy is fiscally irresponsible. If allowed to continue, the term "fiscally conservative" should never be used to describe anyone supporting them.

    Extending the handout for the rich are poor economic stimulators and do not create jobs, only deficits. There are more effective and responsible ways to stimulate the economy than giving handouts to those least effected by the bush depression. This is needlessly piling onto the deficit.

    Cowards. Stand up and do what's right for the economy. I'm quite sure that IF forced to pay for this handout to the rich, it will come off the backs of the working class. Typical.

    September 16, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. ED FL

    When is CNN bias for the wealthy and GOP going to change their CNN logo to GOP 2 Instead of the stealthy current hidden bias ie FOX 2. your credibility as a once fair and balanced network has long since disappeared. .What a Shame for such a DEMISE.

    September 16, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. FM

    I would like to hear the usual say of Republicans "the people have said, they do not like this". But because this is not in their favor, they will pretend to be blind and do not see the polls!

    September 16, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. lovable liberal

    It's amazing how much of middle class America has bought into the BS Republican idea that rich people don't get enough of the pie in this country. In a rational world, more than 90% of people would favor letting those stupid tax cuts for the rich expire.

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

    Why not ALL Americans pay tax ? Can obama afford to let 50% of Amricans NOT pay tax ? So we raise tax on the few that would hire people and move us forward . Another bad move buy ob . And on purpose.

    September 16, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  17. Jerry - Florida

    YES!!! Extend the tax cuts for every one, at least for two years. Don't listen to President NObama. He has no clue as to what is is good or bad for our country.

    I love the way he is trying to encourage students to stay in school and learn their ABC's, but on the other hand he and his moronic administration have mortgaged the rest of their lives. Is this really change you can believe in?

    God help us and America.

    September 16, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. pa mom

    I am not "wealthy" but I ask, is this not discrimination? With half this country paying no taxes, why should we peanlize the very people who invest in our economy and stimulate the economy overall? Why is it the responsibility of one "class" (as this administration has driven home the haves and have nots) to provide for this country and all the entitlements handed out to people who are not taking responsibility for themselves? Fair is fair.....everyone should hand over 15% and be responsible for themselves and this country! Learn from these very people who have succeeded by hard work and wise spending instead of finding an excuse for your failures.

    September 16, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. Eric

    People these are NOT tax CUTS... it's the existing tax code and has been for ten years... what we are talking about is tax HIKES... on the very people who create the jobs you and I work.

    ... unless of course you have poor people hiring you in the town where you live... but I've never worked for a poor man, have you?

    Raise taxes on job creators only at your economic peril.

    September 16, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  20. Ben in Texas

    There is a clear-cut choice here. Want fiscal responsibility and a lower deficit? Then you should be for expiring the tax cuts. All of them. Want higher deficits? Then you should want the Bush tax cuts extended, which has the same effect as increased government spending.

    Where are all those "fiscally conservative" Repugnants and teabaggers on the issue? They're for the tax-and-spend policy of George W. Bush, of course. They want continued welfare for the rich, who receive the vast majority of the cuts.

    The most recent report says we can have a balanced budget in 5 years by whacking the Bush tax cuts now. Just doing that will get us out of the red, but Repugnants and their teabagger wing want to keep America in debt.

    September 16, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. dave

    Quit the wealth envy and make your own good fortune by looking out for yourself as opposed to the government looking out for you.

    September 16, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    Absolutely not. However, the Dems are in trouble, and so they don't want to alienate a prime source of their funding, or the voters, so they want to just keep the status quo, for now.

    September 16, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. Tom in Illinois

    Raise my taxes and I will have to lay off employees. The more money my company make the more employees I can hire. You don't have to be a "rocket scientist" to figure out which is better.

    September 16, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

    It's not like these fatcats didn't see this coming years ago. What have they done with their tax cuts? They sure haven't created any jobs with it. The trickle down economic theory is a FAILURE!!! While middle class Americans are struggling to make ends meat, these fatcats are buying Bentleys and Aston Martins. Where's the prosperity?

    September 16, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. Dis-gusted

    SinceI heard Warren Buffet say he paid less taxes than his admin. assistant and Bill Clinton say he didn't need it, I figure that money could be better used to reduce the deficit. In fact, I'm not so sure it should not run out for the rest of us as well. We need to do whatever is possible without causing any more poverty for Americans to bring it down.

    September 16, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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