Poll: Majority Opposes Extended Bush Tax Cuts For the Wealthy
With Republicans and Democrats headed for another showdown over extension of the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts,” a new poll from the National Journal shows that the public supports the position that Democrats have taken on the issue:
As President Obama navigates a choppy economy in his reelection bid, he can rely on one comforting fact: Americans continue to strongly embrace his opposition to extending tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000 a year.
A new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows that only 26 percent of the public wants to see all of the tax breaks created during the George W. Bush administration, which are set to expire at year’s end, extended for at least another year. And only 18 percent want the tax breaks across all income levels made permanent, the position taken by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
That the broader public prefers taxing the rich to taxing themselves is not surprising. But the poll results offer evidence of the political benefits that the president can derive from his opposition to the Bush-era tax breaks for high-income earners. Obama has made this a centerpiece of his campaign. It also shows the difficulties that the GOP faces trying to convince voters that the $250,000 threshold hits small businesses and would hurt the economy, and why that narrative has gained little traction with the public at large.
In the poll, 47 percent of respondents said they wanted to see the tax breaks extended only for those earning less than $250,000. Eighteen percent said they prefer that all the tax breaks simply expire, which would result in higher taxes across the income spectrum.
Of course, as we learned in December 2010, public opinion doesn’t necessarily provide a guide for how this dispute will work itself out in Congress. Back then there were several polls showing that the public supported the President’s position to hold the line on extending the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year (see here, here, and here) and yet, in the end, it was the President and not Congressional Republicans who ended up caving in. What happens this time around will depend to a large degree on what happens on Election Day but, in the end, I think what we’re most likely to see is Congress kick this can down the road for at least a year by extending the tax cuts for everyone, in the hope that some kind of more comprehensive deal can be worked out when the new Congress convenes in January. Regardless of how the elections turn out, it’s simply silly to expect this issue along with the others that have an end-of-the year deadline (the debt ceiling, the extension of the Payroll Tax Cut and unemployment benefits, and the extension of the Medicare “Doc Fix”) to be resolved by a lame duck Congress.