Americans by a 2-1 margin say ending the Bush-era tax cuts on annual earnings of $250,000 or more would help the economy, according to a poll, a position President Barack Obama has stressed in his campaign for another term.
The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released today shows that 44 percent said the higher taxes would be beneficial, while 22 percent said such a move would harm it and 24 percent said there would be no effect.
In an almost identical finding, 44 percent said the higher taxes for the wealthier would make the tax system fairer, while 21 percent said the result would be a less fair structure and 25 percent said it would make no difference.
While most Democratic and Republican lawmakers favor letting the tax cuts initially enacted under President George W. Bush continue for those below the $250,000 threshold, the rates for those above it has been a major divide between the parties and is a major divide between Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. All of the tax cuts, passed in 2001 and 2003, are due to expire Dec. 31.
Obama spotlighted his support for ending tax cuts for the wealthier while continuing them for others in July 9 remarks at the White House, urging Congress to pass such legislation. He made the announcement before campaign stops in Iowa and Virginia, two of the battleground states in the presidential race.
Romney and congressional Republican leaders call for extending the reductions for all taxpayers and making further reductions in the top tax rates paid solely by higher-income Americans.
Republicans say tax hikes for the wealthier would hurt the economy. Obama couches the issue as a matter of fairness in efforts to reduce the federal deficit and says Republicans are holding middle-class tax cuts “hostage” to reductions for higher-income taxpayers.
In the Pew poll, 58 percent identified Obama as the candidate wanting the tax cuts to expire for wealthier Americans, while 7 percent named Romney, 7 percent said both took that position, 8 percent said neither and 20 percent said they didn’t know.
The survey of 1,015 adults was taken July 12-15 and has a margin of error for its full sample of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.
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