New CNN Poll: Majority want tax increase for wealthy and deep spending cuts
August 10th, 2011
11:18 AM ET

New CNN Poll: Majority want tax increase for wealthy and deep spending cuts

Most Americans want a special congressional committee tasked with drafting a long-term solution to the nation's mounting federal deficits to include tax hikes for the wealthy and businesses and deep cuts in domestic spending, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday also indicates that the public doesn't want the super committee to propose major changes to Social Security and Medicare or increase taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans.

Read full results (PDF).

Under the debt ceiling deal passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week, a panel of 12 legislators – six Democrats and six Republicans, equally divided between the House and Senate – will be created to try to work out $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction after an initial round of more than $900 billion in spending cuts.

If the committee fails to reach agreement or Congress fails to pass whatever package it recommends, a trigger mechanism will enact further across-the-board cuts in government spending, including for the military.

According to the poll, 63 percent say the super committee should call for increased taxes on higher-income Americans and businesses, with 36 percent disagreeing. And by a 57 to 40 percent margin they say the committee's deficit reduction proposal should include major cuts in domestic spending.

But cuts in defense spending get a mixed review: Forty-seven percent would like the committee to include major cuts in military spending, with 53 percent saying no to such cuts.

Nearly two-thirds say no to major changes to Social Security and Medicare. And nearly nine in ten don't want any increase in taxes on middle class and lower income Americans.

"Republicans and Democrats disagree on the need for cuts in domestic and military spending, as well as tax increases for higher-income Americans, but they do agree that the committee should stay away from tax hikes for the middle class and major changes to Social Security and Medicare," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, only a third say that taxes on wealthy people should be kept low because higher-income Americans help create jobs, with 62 percent saying that taxes on the wealthy should be high so the government can use the money for programs to help lower-income Americans.

"That sentiment has changed little since the 1990s," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey was conducted both before and after Friday night's downgrading of the country's credit rating by Standard and Poor's. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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Topics: Poll • United States

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    It will be naive to believe that wealthy and higher-income people would help create jobs, just because they paid less tax. The government should collect taxes from them, so the revenues could be used "for programs to help lower-income Americans." John Rawls' distributive justice!

    August 10, 2011 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • Chan

      Yes, we need to get more revenue. It's Economy stupid. No Revenue, no Security.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • penncrix

      Taxes should be increased on the wealthy and those funds used for a tax credit for employers who hire new legal employees in the United States. This would stimulate that "trickle down" effect. The excuse often used for not increasing taxes on the wealthy. More jobs and lower government spending would solve most of our problems.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:08 am | Reply
  2. fernace

    With the piggy backing on the Republicans of the Tea Party, it's just going to be more of the same, that got us downgraded in the 1st place! The teabags should really have gone through the establishing of a party & waited for the people to vote for their reps, but Norquist needed them in there Now, & since they share basic ideologies with the Repubs a piggyback was the best strategy! For them, not for the American People! I don't think many Repubs were aware how far they arewilling to go to get Obama out! We know now & can only hope & pray cooler, more logical &Sane minds will prevail! We also need an investigation into how a new party, run by an extremist outside source, can leach off an established party without questions! Well, I'm asking questions!!

    August 10, 2011 at 11:54 am | Reply
  3. Canuck

    It is clear that the average American knows what it wants from its politicians – fair treatment. Unfortunately, the US was built on survival of the fittest; if you have a dream, you can make it happen. However, when the dream explodes, there is no safety net to help your fall. Is this what any country would like to be known for?

    August 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • anton

      I respectfully disagree... even in American there is hope after bankrupsy and such. I think as an American I have not only opportunities to succeed, but very few backlashes from failure.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • Paula

      No safety net? This is the land of opportunity! If you were able to make your dream happen once (more than most can say) then you can certainly make it happen again!

      August 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  4. Paula

    Tax cuts DO NOT create jobs. If that was the case then why is unemployment so low after 11 years of having Bush's tax cuts? No, I'm sorry, but it's demand that creates jobs. If a company has no demand for it's product, it will not produce product. If it has demand for it's product, it will acquire the necessary manpower and materials to produce that product. I have yet to work for a businessman that has turned down work.

    There have been many tax incentives in the past two years geared towards acquiring business resources, equipment, and employees. Our company has taken advantage of those tax incentives and has benefited greatly from them. We went from a 14,000 sf shop to a 41,000 sf plant last year, bought a lot of new equipment, hired about a dozen people.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • Paula

      Correction =-) "Tax cuts DO NOT create jobs. If that was the case then why is unemployment so HIGH..."

      August 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • Octavio

      Your reasoning is SERIOUSLY flawed. They didn't get tax cuts each and every year for 11 years, they got it once (or maybe it was twice at the most) 8 or 10 years ago. I think the last tax rate cut was 2003, but since then, tax rates have NOT dropped at all. The top marginal rate has been around 36% for at least 8 years. A tax cut is only meaningful if you see a real drop in taxes paid relative to the prior year. If you want to see real job growth, you have to cut taxes EVERY YEAR, eg. from 36% to 33% to 30% to 27% to 24% etc. each and every year. It's no wonder liberals are so amazingly ignorant when it comes to all matters of finance.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  5. Iconoclast

    While I do believe the majority of Americans want budget cuts as well as tax increases I also believe congress will totally ignore any and all polls (as they have always done) yet continue to babble on that they represent the will of America. Do you think Boehner, Cantor and friends actually read these results and if they do how are they able to rationalize that they are the true representation of the peoples will? Also wish our president would grow a pair and assert what the majority is telling him.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  6. Stacib

    There should be no mention of changes to Social Security amongst this "panel" which is by-passing Democracy. It has absolutely no place in these discussions. Where does the transfer of wealth end?

    For accurate clarity involving SS, it's guarantee backed by healthy treasury bonds and it's surplus, consider reading the article by involving Rep Dennis Kucinich. I'd put the link here but it has problems getting past the moderators.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  7. Stacib

    Medicare isn't the problem. Let this panel instead address the high cost of healthcare and rein that in instead. Hits to Medicare represent another form of wealth transfer. Our middle class and poor are running out of ways to give.

    August 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • mpm

      I agree I have health care and still get bills after they pay what they think the service is worth.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  8. Boo Berry

    Just kill all the poor people and the middle class then you won't have to spend money on them. Problem solved.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  9. ollie

    How about we just have a flat tax on every person in this country.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  10. ollie

    I get so sick of hearing how we need to tax the rich too death. The rich should pay their fair share just like the middle class and yes poor people too.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  11. Bill

    The United States is a 3rd world country. When yall morons stop bickering and realize that in about 10 years all Americans will be lucky if they make $1 a day, the better you will be able to deal.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  12. Onesmallvoice

    What we desperately need to do is make deep cuts in the military spending and make the rich pay their fair share of the taxes, but thanks to these idiots now in Congress, neither will be done, unfortunately! And our economy will only continue to plummet, thanks to them!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:22 am | Reply
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