As a battle over the Bush tax cuts looms in Congress, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll found on Friday that a large majority of the public wants them to expire for the wealthy.


A whopping 69 percent said the tax breaks for individuals making over $200,000 – and families making over $250,000 – annually should expire at the end of this year.

Eighty-one percent favor extending them for Americans making less than that, which both parties largely agree with.

The poll found that only 31 percent support extending the tax cuts for what would be the top 2 to 3 percent of Americans, enacted in President George W. Bush’s first term, and scheduled to lapse on December 31.

Big business groups, however, such as the Chamber of Commerce, are lobbying heavily to ensure another round of tax breaks on the highest income-earners.

The issue of taxes on the rich is shaping up to be prominent in the 2010 elections – Republicans are pushing hard to extend Bush's cuts while most Democrats and President Barack Obama want them to end and for taxes to return to Clinton-era rates next year.

Republicans say failing to extend the tax cuts on the rich would hamper economic recovery, a claim Democratic leaders dismiss as unsubstantiated, while also arguing that letting the tax cuts expire would help bridge the budget deficit.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, extending all the Bush tax cuts would yield economic growth worth only 10 to 40 percent of each dollar lost in government revenues. But the projections note that continuing the breaks for low income earners would be more stimulative as they would spend more of it than the wealthy.

The CBO added Thursday that extending the tax cuts for all but the rich would likely boost economic growth in the short-run but could hamper it over the next decade as the deficit would rise to 8 percent of GDP by 2020.

The poll by Opinion Research Corporation was conducted over telephone and surveyed 1,009 adult Americans. It has a 3 percent margin of error.