September 16th, 2010
08:36 AM ET
12 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week say tax cuts for all Americans should be extended, with an equal amount saying tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed but kept for everyone else, 28 percent saying roll back the cuts for everyone, and 14 percent didn't know.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 Forty-percent of Democrats questioned say that tax cuts for the wealthy should be repealed.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. Spence40

    This American wants a 90 percent tax on CEO Bonuses, a law passed on Credit Card Interests that restricts how much interest above Prime Rate that Credit Cards can charge, and a Health Care Reform that actually limits the Trial Lawyers getting out of proportion Jury Settlements and the Pharmaceutical companies not being permitted to advertise Prescription Drugs on T.V. or Cable Networks..

    September 16, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. teabooger

    Not extending these tax cuts would bring the tax code back to where it was when Clinton was running things! And I, for One, remember those horrible years when the budget Was Not balanced and A Democrat was spending out of control, We were jumping into wars, the economy was shrinking for 8 years strait, with on focus on Job growth or education!

    Clinton was the worst President ever! God Bless George W Bush!

    Without Bush's leadership and temporary tax relief we wouldn't be enjoying a budget that IS balanced, the Peace we enjoy and a steadily growing economy focused on Job growth and education for future job growth.
    God Bless Bush! God Bless the TeaParty!
    and as Glenn Beck would say "isn't it interesting: how quickly we forget our history.:

    September 16, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. travis

    I think we should let them all expire & not renew them because the tax cuts for the non wealthy come @ a cost of 3.2 trillion to the deficit and the cuts for the wealthy come in @ 4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. that's 7.2 trillion onto the deficit! with all the "rage" the republicans have towards Obama about spending that has added to deficit you would think they would wanna pay for it but suprise suprise they just wana add it to the debt! that 7.2 trillion is 8 times the size of the stimulus that they all hate. I think we need to get the deficit under controlthen talk about tax cuts.cut spending & cut down the deficit then cut taxes.we always complain about spending but when it comes down to doin something bout it we never do

    September 16, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. sonny chapman

    Republicans: we can't afford to extend Unemployment Benefits unless paid for; it blows up the Deficit. We MUST extend tax cuts for the rich, even if they are not paid for.

    September 16, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Strongcrit

    How can they support, if the so-called elected members live for 2% people. How can they just deny miilions flowing to their unknow bank accounts ? Around 15 percent of american population is living under powerty line which is worse than some developping nations. How dare it is to support extention of Bush-GOP tax cuts. It is pathetic you democrats who support this ? Please try to fulfill your campaign promises. You are not increasing anybody's taxes. You are just eliminating the extra privilages the rich enjoying at the cost poor, starving america people. If you can feel the pain of innocent suffering people who don't have much voice like rich, please let the super privilages that the 2% enjoys expire.

    September 16, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. stevegee

    First of all, 50% of citizens don't pay any income tax - that's absurd! Second, if the Bush Tax Cuts are extended, it should apply to all citizens. And third, the progressive federal income tax should be abolished - it progressively penalizes success, which is Socialism at its worst. It should be replaced by a national sales tax, so everyone pays their fair share - including the underground cash society.

    September 16, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Four and The Door

    With only 2% of Americans with household incomes exceeding $250,000 it is interesting that such a higher percentage understand that increasing taxes on these people right now is a bad idea.

    But the issue right now is how to create jobs. That's what Americans need. As Obama went out of his way to prove, massive government spending does not jump start a down economy. But creating an environment where the people who create jobs can do that makes sense. It's not a pleasant idea for others, but it is a means to an end.
    End this destructively high unemployment.

    September 16, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. thomas

    Let the BUSH tax cuts for those making over two hundred thousand a year expire.
    We can always reinstate the tax cuts when our infrastructure and economy improve.
    Failed gas pipelines, unsafe bridges , out dated rail and transportation .
    With interest rates at an all time low , those making over two hundred thousand will adapt and find creative tax deductions that give back rather then horde !

    September 16, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. don

    Only americans the have an R after their name.

    September 16, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. Phillip Bias

    We do not want to join obamas war against the wealthy. they contol 30% + of all jobs and can cripple america by simply doing nothing right now. think of it like a old pitcher pump. to get water out of the pump , you must pour water down the pum,its called priming, so if you lose 2 to 3 gallons down the hole you can get lots more out. we dont need a class war especially right now. obama hasnt done 1 thing right since he has been in office. he is an elitist and does not understand or even care to understand america. we will not climb out of this hole as long as he is in office. the wealth moved there corp money out of america the day after the election and will not bring it back until there enemy is out of office, if you want them to help america then empeach there enemy and they will bring back the jobs, if you like it or not obamanation declared war on them and they have won

    September 16, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Joe M.

    The people who support the tax cuts expiring for people making over $250K are merely unaware of the fact that the people who create the jobs in this country – those small business owners making between $250K and $1M – will be most affected.

    The only rationale the left offers for this is "fairness", especially since it has been shown that keeping taxes low actually generates more revenue, not less. The CBO is not permitted to take incentives into account when scoring proposed legislation. Therefore, when it says tax cuts add to the deficit, it fails to attribute the growth generated by such incentives to invest back to those tax cuts. At the same time, the CBO is not permitted to look at the adverse investment incentives created by tax increases, and thus fails to explain how tax revenues consistently fail to grow by as much as the CBO estimates after such an increase.

    September 16, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Greg


    But the question is what defines wealthy? Where do you draw the line? Where I live you can spend a 500K on a house and get 2 bedrooms of a starter home. In another market that will buy you 4500 sqr feet of luxury. How do we define wealth?

    September 16, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. bogie hunter

    The rich should start back paying their fair share of taxes. Since the big Bush tax cuts for the wealthest americans there have been no new jobs created, which was suppose to happen, but didn't. The filthy rich just got richer and the middle class has slowly suffered. End the Tax breaks for the rich and continue the cuts for people making 250,000 dollars and under.

    September 16, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Chas in Iowa

    In order to correct the blunders of the past administration I would be more than happy to repeal all the Bush tax cuts.
    I'll give back the $200 or $300 dollars chump change the Bush administration gave the middle class to distract them from the fact that they gave outragous cuts to the rich.
    Repeal them all!!!!

    September 16, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Snow

    Raising taxes during obama's recession is plain stupid. Right now 31 democrats are siding with Republicans in opposing any tax increases at this time. A tax increase on the wealthy will further stunt growth because additional taxes taken from the job creators only further hampers them hiring additional people and stunts growth of their companies. The tax increase would hurt 48 percent of small business who file their business taxes like most Americans. I do not know about you, but I never got a job from a poor person.

    September 16, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    Extend tax cuts for the evil selfish rich?
    Heaven forbid!
    With 14.3% living in poverty, it is shameful and sinful for anybody to be rich!
    What we should do–and I believe that President Obama would agree–is to repeal tax cuts for the rich, then double or triple the taxes on rich people and dole those tax dollars out to the noble souls living in poverty.
    If there is any opposition to this fair plan–well, then God help us!

    September 16, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. KatR

    If the GOP is (supposedly) listening to We the People they should take heed of this.

    September 16, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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