Buried in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll is an interesting revelation: A large majority of Americans believe tax hikes should accompany spending cuts to slash the federal deficit.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said that deficit-cutting should comprise a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, while only 31 percent thought spending cuts should do the trick on their own.
A mere 3 percent believed tax increases alone should cover the budget shortfall, which is projected to be a record-breaking $1.5 trillion for fiscal 2011.
The finding raises questions for Democratic and Republican leaders, who have roundly taken tax increases off the table during budget negotiations and instead focused their efforts on deciding what discretionary spending programs to cut.
Congress is expected to approve another stop-gap measure this week temporarily averting a government shutdown before funding expires Friday. The negotiated template would cut $6 billion in federal spending.
Surveys have consistently found that the public supports increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans but opposes hikes on the poor and middle class. A measure introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) aims to raise $50 billion in revenues by raising taxes 5.6 percent on millionaires.
A Republican leadership aide argued that the GOP victory in the 2010 elections, as well as the overwhelming support for extending all the Bush tax cuts last December, reflect resolute public opposition to tax increases.
The Post-ABC poll surveyed a random sample of 1,005 adults between March 10-13, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.