December 1st, 2010
09:59 AM ET
11 years ago

Poll: Should tax cuts be extended for wealthy?

Washington (CNN) - As top Democrats and Republicans begin negotiations over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, a national poll indicates that the public remains divided on whether the wealthiest Americans should continue to receive those cuts.

Four in ten questioned in a USA Today/Gallup survey released Wednesday say that the cuts should be extended for all Americans, with 44 percent saying they support extending the tax breaks but setting limits on how much of wealthy Americans' income is eligible for the lower rates, and 13 percent saying the cuts should be allowed to expire at the end of the year.

An Associated Press-CNBC poll released Tuesday indicates that half questioned wanted tax cuts to be extended only for families making under $250,000 a year, with 34 percent saying they should be extended for all Americans, and 14 percent calling for the cuts to sunset for everyone at the end of the year.

Forty-nine percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted in the middle of November said the tax cuts should be extended for families making less than $250,000 a year, with another 15 percent that said the cuts should not be extended for anyone. That left 35 percent who favor an extension of the tax cuts for all Americans regardless of how much money they make.

The tax cuts were passed into law in first years of the presidency of George W. Bush. They are set to expire at the end of this year, unless a new bill is passed by Congress. The issue became a raging battle between Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capitol and on the campaign trail across the country the past three months. 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 should be kept in place for everyone.

At a White House meeting Tuesday between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders from both parties committed to start negotiations to seek compromise.

Both Obama and congressional Republicans emphasized the talks on the tax cut issue as a major issue in the meeting.

"That process is beginning right away, and we expect to get some answers back in the next couple of days," Obama said. However, he cautioned that both parties still have deep disagreements, even as they attempt to find "sensible common ground" on the tax provisions.

Boehner said talks involving the treasury secretary, White House budget officials and members of Congress from both parties will examine the tax issue. The congressional negotiators will be Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland for the Democrats, with Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan for the Republicans.

However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated that there is little leeway in the GOP stance, saying that all Senate
Republicans and some Democrats want all the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 to be extended.

The USA Today/Gallup survey indicates a partisan divide on the issue, with 59 of Republicans saying tax cuts for all should be extended. Only 41 percent of independent voters and 18 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted November 19-21, with 1,037 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: Polls • Taxes
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. a in austin

    NO, NO, NO!!! The top 2% of Americans are the only people to have prospered over the last 30 years while Main Street Americans have seen a decline. NO JOBS CREATED FROM TRICKLE DOWN! If the part of no insist on cuts for the wealthiest then let the tax cuts "sunset".... The party of no will not compromise on this – they have a lot of paying back to do!

    December 1, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. kyle

    No unemployment extension for the poor, but tax extensions for the rich, what a sick sick Country we are.

    December 1, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. michael

    It appears we have allowed the wealthy to brain wash us into thinking their tax cuts translate to jobs...they do not, less jobs were added under 8 years of bush than the last year. What does that tell you. the wealthy do not reinvest in jobs, they invest in themselves. People stop following the Republican b.s. like a bunch of lemmings.

    December 1, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. Sgt. Joe

    Does anyone honestly think the GOP listens to the typical middle class American? They only support polls that favor their agenda. This one does not but they'll find a way to justify their agenda because it serves those they most represent, the wealthy. Is this a big surprise? You middle class who gave them your votes are fools.

    December 1, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. jules sand-perkins

    Absolutely extend all tax cuts, including those for tge successful. If one cannot become rich in America, then the dream is over, and it's time for the Freedom experiment to end. Let them try communism and see how they enjoy it.

    December 1, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Mountaineer

    Americans have spoken. It's time for Congress to act and extend the Bush Tax Cuts for only those making their first $250,000 of income. All other above that should be allowed to expire.

    December 1, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. MAhole

    Enough of the polls and other assorted BS............
    President Obama needs to put his foot down and just flat-out go ahead with his plan to let the tax cuts for those making over 250K expire. They CAN afford it. The rest of us can't. That's all there is to it.
    Trickle-down economics as championed by Ronnie Ray-Gun don't work. If they did, America wouldn't be where it is now. All it ever amounted to was getting peed on anyway............
    If you can't cut back enough to live with the tax increase on your 250+K a year, you have serious problems.

    December 1, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    Polls continually say the American people want to end the tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. Even many of the wealthiest Americans say that.

    Seems like the repugs are all for doing the will of the people, except when the polls say the people are against what the repugs want.

    December 1, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I say that the return to normal tax levels could be phased in over the course of three years; do a bit each year until it returns the orginal level that it should have been. Those that are making over $500,000 (or even the $250,000 that the president has talked about) aren't doing enough to create jobs in the own companies and enough charitable giving. They should be helping local food banks and shelters and other social support groups with the money and time. I would think most religions would advocate helping the less fortunate.

    December 1, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. tamade

    Just pass the bill!! Whether you're wealthy, poor or middle class Americans, you're still an American. All Americans should be entitled to any Government programs, including tax cuts. The only people that will suffer if this bill continues to stall in Congress are the average Americans. Stop wasting our time and pass the bill!

    December 1, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Nate

    Is it just me, or does this mean that 60-65% of people want tax cuts for those making over $250,000 to expire? How is this a "divided" public? I guess it's somehow different from the "mandate" Republicans got for winning 55% of the vote this past election...

    December 1, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Should we, as a Nation give money (that's what a tax break is) to people who have more, MUCH MORE than the bare necessities while ending unemployment for those who are just steps from being homeless?
    Should we, as a Nation consider the possibility (LIE) that now, after almost eight years of tax breaks that the wealthy and "Big Business" will START creating jobs if these gifts are extended when they have been sdo busy shipping jobs off shore and outsourcing products at a prodigious rate?
    Should we, as a Nation, in light of our current fiscal deficit let the wealthiest and most able to afford a tax increase keep more of their FUTURE INCOME AND PROFITS while our children's children's children see nothing but red ink on our Federal ledger?




    If you have to, tax me more too, but don't let them head fake us into deeper debt on the fingers crossed "promise" to change their ways... It's not gonna happen.

    December 1, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Making $250K with a family in New York City is hardly "rich"! It is probably enough to get by. The DemocRATS and their hate filled class warfare tactics continue to try and divide this country. These leftists must be thrown out of office if we are to survive.

    And I'm STILL waiting for that poll about whether ALL Americans should have to pay taxes at some level instead of letting nearly 50% pay nothing, or get welfare in the form of tax credits.

    December 1, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. Four and The Door

    I have to imagine that if the Democrats really do have any concern about lowering the ( official ) 9.6% unemployment rate that they must believe that the Federal Government can more effectively create private sector jobs than the segment of society who own and run the small businesses.

    Considering that unemployment has increased significantly in the past 2 years while the Federal Government has thrown trillions of American tax dollars at this problem I believe the data is very clear that the Federal Government just needs to stay out of the way. For the good of the economy and the American taxpayer.

    December 1, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. Dee Bee

    Absolutely not. The cost of these cuts adds even more to the deficit. How can Republicans justify giving tax cuts to multi-millionaires and not give unemployment insurance to someone trying to pay rent and feed their family.

    December 1, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. Bill from GA

    And in case I haven't mentioned it lately, Mitch "Lying Butt-face" McConnell is the biggest jerk in the Senate. Maybe in all of America, since he has much more power than the local jerks.

    He likes to take a phrase that is essentially true, such as "Fifty percent of all small-business income comes from the top two percent of small businesses" and repeat it on talk shows as if it impacts most small businesses, when he knows it doesn't. It only impacts the top 2% of small businesses that make that 50% of income; companies that should be paying taxes on their enormous profits.

    December 1, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Marcus

    The problem with the support of the extension of the tax cuts lies on the FACTS that:
    – No study/analysis/research managed to prove that they work on medium and long periods of time, only in the short ones.
    – There was NO increase on the numbers of employment in this decade that can be placed upon their 'effectiveness'.
    – They DON'T pay for themselves, no matter what 'Mallard Fillmore' says about it.
    – They're but a partisan issue, the Republican Party failed to come with an alternative to solve the problems in the current status of the economy and is trying to show them as the 'best and only chance' that the US have... in spite of what those pesky numbers says about them... Works for Republicans (mostly) as the poll showed.

    December 1, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. tony

    Why is it in America that the majority elect a President to do what he promised. and the minority who lost that election get to block the majorities wil?

    December 1, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    I was polled once. During the questioning process it became apparent that I supported this president, and I was hung up on. Never been polled since.

    It might be easier to agree with extending the tax cuts to the wealthiest if we hadn't already shed 8 million jobs during the Bush Administration - giving the whole let's lower taxes on the wealthy to create more jobs argument more weight. As it is, it doesn't much matter WHAT the people think. While the poor and the middle class might be THE populace majority, we certainly haven't any real power over what the few million or so individuals who actually run this country want.

    December 1, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. Get It Done

    For all intents and purposes, unless the monies gathered through the elimination of the Bush Era Tax Cuts are EARMARKED ONLY FOR DEBT REDUCTION, let them ALL continue indefinitely. Otherwise, all you will get is more spending and more debt.

    I have been a proponent of extending only those cuts for the "lower" 98%, but realistically, unless there are spending cuts, and DRASTIC ones, the 700 billion (over 10 years) is not going to mean anything as far as the debt is concerned.

    First, balance the budget, and start making REAL cuts – earmark programs, unnecessary government positions|offices|etc., foreign aid, military spending, etc. THEN tax laws need to be reformed to the point that those in the upper 2% do not have so many loopholes to jump through that they pay and effective tax rate much lower than the "lower" 98%.

    December 1, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. J. Samuel Cook

    "Will of the people," GOP.

    "Will of the people..."

    December 1, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Emile Zola

    It's shameful that in a, so called, democracy special interests tromp those of the people and even worse, it's quite masochist for middle class and lower to vote for republicans, tea partiers. They care not for the un-employed, and real Americans, not to be confused with the "real Americans" of Sarah Plain that care more for racism than liberty and the pursuit of hapiness. Of course, if those millionaires, billionaires wouldn't spend money on republicans and tea partiers, they wouldn't vote either for a tax break for them billionaires. In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch, ergo, the billionaires that give millions to our elected corrupt politicians expect their money back and this is the way that works in capitalism. The elite rule, people pay for the broken dishes. I think we should call our government an oligarchy and it is closer to the truth than calling ourselves a democracy.

    December 1, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Of course the Bush tax cuts should be continued for the wealthy, isn't that what "apartheid" is about, legal and economic separation.

    December 1, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. SuperD

    Bottom Line. The Dems want more of your money and the Republicans want you to keep your money. Who would you go with?

    Also, please define "Wealthy" or "Rich" I'd be interested in the progressive definition, though it's a bunch of bull honky.

    Give the tax cuts to everyone! Reduce the size of the Federal Govt instead!

    December 1, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Kara

    In other words, 66% of americans DON'T want tax cuts for the rich, but heaven forbid CNN should report it as honestly and simply as that. this message probably won't even get through.

    December 1, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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