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week say tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, with an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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

    One thing if this went towards the deficit but this will just help cover for Obamacare.

    September 16, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. once upon a horse

    one thing is for certain, Americans don't know WHAT they want. Case in point, more Americans polled claim they blame the economy on the Republicans more than the Democrats, they also STILL blame Bush for the economy YET the same ones want top put the GOP BACK in control to run the country. Either the polls are just loopy or that shows the mixed up mindset that we are as a nation.

    September 16, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Mike

    We need to let the tax cuts expire for the most wealthy in this country. Tax cuts are for those individuals who need them most. (Middle Class)

    September 16, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. gt

    one million is wealthy...250 is not bad ,,, but not wealthy..

    September 16, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Robbie

    I kinda like Robin Hood economics. Paris Hilton and Albert Pujols do not need tax cuts.

    September 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. doug

    Those who work extremely hard and make this nation great, the people who create jobs and wealth for all Americans should not be punished for being exceptional.

    Democrats support lib union and public sector leeches who do nothing but take and harm this country but want to punish those who make this nation better.

    It is fact that Democrats want a lower standard of living for all Americans. They want you to be dependent on the government and in need of the white elitist liberal to cure your ills, which means Democrat vote. The reality is that they just make things worse, what has happened in our inner cities over the last 40 years from complete Democrat control makes that undeniable.

    Could you imagine wanting to put young children in a situation where they cannot have their American dream because you want them to grow up to be dependent and vote Democrat? If you are not evil, then let me thank you in advance for your Republican vote this November.

    September 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  7. Jess C

    The "majority" says no....hear that Repubs?

    September 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. annie s

    I still have not heard anyone in favor of extending the tax cuts to the wealthy explain to me how this will create jobs. The tax cuts were in place during the Bush Administration, when the country lost 8 million jobs. If the tax cuts did nothing to create jobs then, why should we think they will create jobs now?

    September 16, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. Ron in Califonia

    The problem is that most voters are uninformed and do not understand the issue. If they would take the time to learn about the issue they would undestand that this impacts those who are small business owners who will be impacted by this tax rise. Not good to do in a poor economy.

    September 16, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Desmond in Canada

    Of course the wealthy should have their tax cuts rolled back. Elementary, Watson! Opportunist/cowardly/betraying Dems notwithstanding.
    I think $100,000 is a very wealthy income, never mind $250,000!

    September 16, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. Isabelle

    Why do people want to punish those who have actually done something with their lives? My husband and I live in our middle-America $300,000 house, but we have big dreams and are willing to work hard for them. If we are able to achieve our dreams and actually make some money some day, I don't want to be punished for it.

    September 16, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. maine liberal

    tax cuts are already in place for the wealthy

    after 95k they pay no payroll tax thats a 3.5 percent off the top and bottom cut.

    Eliminating the bush tax cut on the wealthy would increase their tax on EARNED income above 250k by 40 dollars per thousand.

    September 16, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. Marie MD

    I don't understand the Democrats that are siding against the President. Let the rich pay their fair share.
    The middle class is overburdened with nowhere to go but down.
    Wasn't the CNN poll 73% for taxing the rich?

    September 16, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  14. jae

    can somebody answer this question, the bush tax cuts were enacted in 2001, revised in 2003, (remember the $600 checks for us, and Lexus 300 for the top 2% both years, yes they called this stimulus, never paid for) The jobs were leaving left and right since 2004. The righties will say that when dems took over in 2006 caused this. My question is: when the dems took over, they did not repeal the tax cuts, where are the jobs? Righties say that the rich will start investing if we extend the tax cuts, but what if they dont?

    September 16, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. Tulsa

    Ok Republicans, when the polls were showing opinion against the Health Care Bill you said Government has to listen to the people...... Well? Were you telling lies or did you mean it? If you meant it, then you should stick to what you said matters.... listening to the people.
    If you don't then, well, YOU LIE!

    September 16, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. hankers

    Those 'maverick' Dems that have been led to believe the LOUD MINORITY, had better wake up and take a leadership role and get this done.

    September 16, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Tim

    No one is asking for tax cuts for the wealthy. We're asking for no tax increases for anyone. You have a funny way of framing reality.

    September 16, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. t22

    Here's an idea, if you need to raise money, find the percentage increase needed and apply it to all taxpayers and then make the case as to why you need the money – you know, like every business has to do every day on every product it sells?

    September 16, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Joe Gerken

    Continuing tax cuts for millionaires won't "jump start" the economy. We had the worst economic crisis in 80 years shortly after Bush's trax cuts went into effect. It is hypocritical for Republicans to prate about balancing the budget and then support this measure which makes a balanced budget impossible.

    September 16, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  20. MAhole

    Let the cuts expire for those who can afford it.

    Their first $250K will be taxed at the same lower rate as those of us who work for a living – so they get the same benefit that the rest of us do.

    Besides, they have hotshot bean-counters who can find all sorts of loopholes for them anyway – so they don't even pay their fair share to begin with.

    Just remember how angry we all get at the obscene bonuses that the Wall St. bunch gets – for gambling with our hard-earned $$$. They CAN AFFORD to pay more in taxes – and by all means they should.

    And for all of you who think that the GNOP would do a better job handling the economy – their obstrctionism is what has held the economy back for the past year and a half..............

    NO to the party of NO!!!!

    September 16, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. KEVIN

    No, We don't, How many ways can I say No we don't. It has be 10 years now that the Bush(ist) tax cut have been going on and I and most American are still waiting for these wealthy people letting their wealth trickle down and create job. Well, that has not happen yet.
    It has already been proven that the wealthy will save their money and not invest in the ecomony. The rich invest according to the stock market and nothing else. So, to keep these reckless tax cut will do nothing more than hurt the American Treasury, and converserly The American Public. Please people understand that it is the middle class that built and continue to build this country. Without the middle class who would the wealthy have to cheat out of their money.

    September 16, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. charlie from the North

    If it is the only way to get the wealthy to pay their fair share then take away my tax cut. Of course I am willing to keep my tax cut but the most important thing is that the free ride for the super rich come to an end.

    September 16, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Merga

    I am totally against the Bush tax cut. We heard tax cut will creat jobs. I worked in an employment and training since Bush took office and followed his job cut spear. We never saw job addition ruther jobs has been eliminated and more American are loosing jobs. for get the pholosphy of GOP tax cut will creat jobs!!!!

    September 16, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. charlie from the North

    Also, Some quick electoral math:

    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 16, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. James Daffron

    Any American with any knowledge of economics wants to at least retain the existing tax cuts because: I have never worked for a poor man and I bet no one else in the private sector has either. If you increase the tax on the "wealthy", you are taking jobs away from people because they will sending their money to the IRS rather than hiring someone.

    September 16, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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