Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts

This month, Congress is tasked with deciding how to address the Bush Tax Cuts (passed in 2001) that are due to expire in December.  Public opinion seems to be in favor of keeping the tax cuts for the middle class, although there is less consensus around whether high-income households earning more than $250,000 a year should enjoy the same tax cuts. With the economy at top of mind, and deficit reduction hotly debated by pundits, the tax cut debate could shape up to be important for the midterm election.

The Pew/National Journal Congressional Conection Poll reports that a Americans are about evenly split three ways: 29% are in favor of keeping the Bush tax cuts for all, 29% are in favor of repealing tax cuts for the wealthy but keeping the the tax cuts for others, and 28% believe that the tax cuts should be repealed for all.  They have been tracking opinions on the Bush tax cuts since September 2004; support for repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy peaked in October 2008 at 37%, and hit a low point in July 2010 at 27%.  Further:

•47% of Republicans, compared to just 16% of Democrats and 30% of Independents, believe in keeping the Bush tax cuts in their current form
•Democrats show the most favor for repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy (40%)
•Families with an income over $75,000 show the strongest support for maintaining the tax cuts (39%) and the least amount of support for reappealing all taxcuts (21%)
•Support for maintaing all tax cuts declines among mid-income ($30,000-$74,999; 29%) and low-income (less than $30,000; 19%) families

The Pew National Journal Congressional Connection Poll also showed a plurality of Americans (39%) are concerned that repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy would hurt the economy, while 26% believe this would help the economy and 26% believe it will have no effect on the economy.  Republicans are much more inclined to believe that ending the tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year will hurt the economy, with 60% of Republicans asserting this belief, compared to 32% of Democrats and 33% of Independents.

A new McClatchy-Marist Poll asked the question differently and found an even split between two options: 49% of registered voters agree that Congress should extend the tax cuts for the middle class only, and let them expire for households earning more than $250,000, and 48% believed that Congress should extend the tax cuts for everyone. As can be seen by the chart, women are much more likely than men to agree that the tax cuts should expire for the wealthy.  Young folks and Democrats are also more likely to agree. 

Congress should extend the tax cuts only for the middle class, but not for the top 2%, that is, households earning $250,000 or more:

Source: McClatchy-Marist Poll

The McClatchy Marist survey also asked if a household income of $250,000 makes you wealthy, and 55% of registered voters believe that it does.  Of those who agree, 59% believe that the tax cuts should be allowed to expire for the wealthy.  Of those who believe that $250,000 does NOT make you wealthy, 38% believe the tax cuts should be repealed for households in this income bracket.

Importantly, a recent Democracy Corps Survey finds that the "rising American electorate," comprised of unmarried women, minorities, and young voters under 30, support progressive tax ideas.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: public opinion, Congress, Bush, Opportunity, Taxes (all tags)


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