Majority favors taxing rich, ending war to cut deficit

In a sign that most Americans favor a progressive social agenda, a recent public opinion poll revealed that a solid majority of respondents want to curtail military commitments abroad, raise taxes on the rich and close tax loopholes for large corporations.

At the same time, the survey shows that the Republican political establishment is out of sync with the views of the Republican base on these and other questions.

According to results of a survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press earlier this month, in order to reduce the national debt and deficit:

  • 66 percent favored increasing taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year
  • 65 percent favored reducing military commitments overseas
  • 62 percent favored limiting tax deductions for large corporations

The attitude for decreasing military presence abroad corresponds with the public view - held by six-in-ten - that the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has contributed greatly to the national debt, more than any other factor tested.

This public sentiment was no doubt an important factor in President Barack Obama's recent decision to scale back troop presence in Afghanistan.

The findings also reveal that the Republican political establishment appears to be at odds with the majority of the Republican base. Sixty-two percent of Republicans approved limiting corporate tax deductions and 56 percent favored reducing military engagements abroad.

While Republican leaders in Congress stand firm against raising income taxes (for the rich), Republican respondents were evenly divided (49 to 49 percent) on whether to support increasing taxes on income over $250,000 to reduce the national debt.

Meanwhile, the poll finds widespread opposition to measures being promoted by Republican Congressional leaders aimed to reduce the deficit and national debt:

  • 73 percent of respondents overall (64 percent of Republicans) disapprove of cutting funds for the states for education and roads
  • 73 percent overall (70 percent of Republicans) disapprove of taxing employer-provided health insurance
  • 59 percent generally (51 percent of Republicans) oppose gradually raising the Social Security retirement age
  • 54 percent generally (43 percent of Republicans) oppose reducing programs that help low-income Americans. Of the four, this is the only issue on which a majority of Republicans (52 percent) goes along with Republican political leaders.

Despite the Republican propaganda machine's best efforts, the figures demonstrate that clear majorities understand what is in their and the nation's best interests.

The study also reflects the positive impact on public opinion of issue-oriented campaigns led by labor and other popular movements in conjunction with center-left politicians and political figures in the Democratic camp, including the president on several issues he has championed.

The survey further showed that public concern for the budget deficit increased since last year. May 25-30, when the survey was conducted, 28 percent cited the budget deficit as the economic issue that most worries them, up from 24 percent in March and 19 percent in December.

This appears to demonstrate the influence that the powerful Republican propaganda blitzkrieg - coupled with the acquiescence of some Democratic politicians - is having on people's thinking.

However, the job situation remains the number one concern for even more Americans - 38 percent said they worry most about jobs, up slightly from March (34 percent), though down from 47 percent in December.

While the March and May figures suggest a somewhat (albeit anemic) overall improvement in the job situation, it also shows the need for a more robust movement for jobs - all the more so given the increased likelihood of a double dip economic downturn.

Massive jobs' creation is a sure way to bring down the federal deficit because it will expand the tax base.

Contrary to Republican claims, increasing taxes on the rich, closing tax loopholes of the large corporations and transferring monies from a reduction in foreign military engagement - all of which enjoy widespread public support as the poll indicates - would go a long way in reducing the deficit and financing a jobs' program.

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  • I simply do not understand the mentality of those who do not want the upper classes to pay their share of taxes. The gentleman who replied and is against taxing the wealthy while he makes 55K a year is deluded.

    I hope he does not consider himself in the group calling itself wealthy.

    If it is true as the Republicans claim that the wealthy create jobs, then fine. Tie the tax break to job creation. If you are wealhy and create jobs, wonderful--you get your tax break. If you are wealthy and do nothing to create jobs, tax the hell out of them.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 07/06/2011 8:34am (3 years ago)

  • Where did you get this B%ll S*&t poll information. Talk about lies. My household income is $55,000 and am NOT in favor of raising taxes on the rich. I DO NOT believe in income redistribution. I've got a sister who's on food stamps and welfare programs and she is just plain lazy! As Michael Savage says, "Liberalism is a mental disorder."

    History shows otherwise. read the book "Duped America", oh that's right, liberals can't read.

    Posted by dziggy1967, 07/02/2011 2:33pm (3 years ago)

  • Excellent article and well researched. Personally, I believe that Americans attitude of "take theirs, not mine" is reactionary. once Americans find that people close to them (or themselves) having hard times, they will think twice about supporting an "everyone for themselves by their own bootstraps" agenda.

    For the remaining 34% who did not favor higher taxation on the higher income earners, they need to understand the concept of flat taxation is non-egalitarian. capitalism (broken down) equates to the old saying of "it takes money to make money". the money (or capital) available to "make money" is the discressionary funds left after meeting the demands for basic needs. with so many Americans unable to afford basic needs, the ability to "make money" is impossible. therefore, it is the duty of wealthier Americans to help poorer Americans. after all, these poorer Americans are the ones who made the top earners wealthy by buying their goods or services.

    last of all, i would like to hear the percentage of legislators who wish to privatize programs currently run by the state. this talk of privatization of Amtrak, Social Security, the school system, etc is a major sign of capitalism in a panic. government infrastructure like roads, sewers, water districts, Social Security, railroad tracks, etc are designed to help entrepeneurs by making available the means to start and grow businesses, that would otherwise be made impossible. (i.e. Chipotle Mexican Grill uses the public water system, but could not afford to exist if they also had to create pipelines and water treatment to their stores). lets squash this silly privatization debate. for proof of the effects, look at Aeroflot after 1991.

    Posted by NIcholas James, 06/30/2011 9:25pm (3 years ago)

  • This process is going to take time. However, I agree with you that the American public is having a very rude awakening in terms of whose benefiting from the current economic crisis. We are tired of being tired of the rip offs! I look forward to the day when the majority of the American people will take to the streets to demand that the Rich really pay their fair share. Very incisive article Juan. Keep putting this info out. Heartfelt Thanks to you!! All Power to the People!!!

    Posted by Mama Cassie, 06/30/2011 9:11pm (3 years ago)

  • This is the kind of reporting and analysis the PW is so good at...and props to Juan Lopez for doing it!

    There IS a progressive majority in this country...no wonder the GOP takes advantage of every opportunity, like winning a governor's office, to ram through programs only the super-rich want, because there's no other way they could get away with it except by subterfuge.

    The big question for me is: Why aren't voters already wise to these tricks? That's what W did, after all, right? Pulled a fast one on us. I pray the public is never going to fall for this scam again!

    Posted by Eric, 06/30/2011 6:21pm (3 years ago)

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