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Poll: Huge majority of Americans support taxing the rich

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 9:59 EDT
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As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote down legislation that would raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to pay for a jobs plan that most economists believe would stop the recession, a new poll has surfaced showing just how out of touch those Senators are with mainstream America.

According to figures released by Bloomberg and The Washington Post on Tuesday, eight in 10 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 a year. A full 81 percent of Democrats were behind the plan, along with 67 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.

That’s a huge leap in support from December 2010, when a Bloomberg poll found that just 59 percent favored extending the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans. President Obama has since vowed to normalize tax rates between the upper and middle classes, highlighting the dispairity in the percentage paid by lower income people as compared to the top earners.

Similarly large majorities also supported major reductions in defense spending, which is far and away the largest discretionary spending the government is engaged in today. Sixty percent of Democrats were in favor of cutting defense, along with 58 percent of independents. Just 34 percent of Republicans favored this course of action.

Overall, 81 percent of American adults said they believe that even the middle class will be forced to make sacrifices to reduce the nation’s deficit. However, 83 percent of Americans agreed that cutting Social Security should not be an option. Another 82 percent said cutting Medicare should be off the table.

The majority’s views are largely in-line with President Barack Obama’s proposals, which are likely be under-cut by the “super committee” Congress agreed to form in the midst of a budget standoff earlier this year. The committee of 12 will be tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years: a feat nearly impossible without raising government revenues or making massive cuts to social safety nets.

Unfortunately for Democrats, Americans are evenly divided on whether re-electing President Obama, or replacing him with any of the Republican candidates, will even make a difference.

Just 24 percent said their families finances would be better if Obama wins the 2012 election, versus 24 percent who believe things will improve with a Republican in office. Nearly half, 44 percent, said either outcome would “not make much difference,” according to the poll.

Read the full results here.

Photo: Flickr user oporder.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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