A plurality of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll says the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush, which are set to expire at the end of the year, should be made permanent for all taxpayers.
The 2001 law reduced the highest income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent by 2006 while also cutting lower brackets’ rates. The 2003 law accelerated some provisions of the 2001 law and lowered taxes on income from dividends and capital gains.
A 57 percent majority of respondents says extending the cuts should be contingent on offsetting spending reductions.
President Barack Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for individuals with less than $200,000 in annual taxable income and couples with less than $250,000-roughly 98 percent of American households. Eighteen percent of respondents favor this plan, while another 18 percent say the cuts for all but the highest-income taxpayers should be for two years only.
Republicans have pushed to make the cuts permanent for all taxpayers, but some recently have signaled willingness to compromise. Of the respondents, 13 percent favor a two-year extension for all taxpayers.
Critics of extending the Bush tax cuts say the nation cannot afford them. Making all the cuts permanent would increase U.S. debt by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade. Seven percent say the tax cuts should not be extended.
More than 805 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Sept. 13 and 14.
Should the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 be extended?
Made permanent for all taxpayers: 44 percent
Two-year extension for all but highest-income taxpayers: 18 percent
Made permanent for all but highest-income taxpayers: 18 percent
Two-year extension for all taxpayers: 13 percent
Tax cuts should not be extended: 7 percent
Should any extension of the cuts be contingent on offsetting spending reductions?
Yes: 57 percent
No: 43 percent
What is your political affiliation?
Republican: 40 percent
Non-affiliated: 32 percent
Democrat: 25 percent
Other: 3 percent
Here are some comments from readers:
Those 2 percent to 3 percent of Americans making over $250,000 also provide for 50 percent of jobs as small businesses. The Obama economic team just doesn’t understand who is creating the jobs and the wealth in this country. The government certainly doesn’t!
—James Stevens, Rochester
I thought the Constitution said "ALL" of the people!
The tax cuts were a mistake from the start. It was false economic thinking that enabled them. They led to no economic growth from 2001 to 2009. All the tax cuts did was balloon the deficit under President George Bush and put President Obama deeper into the hole. The sooner Americans wake up to the reality that we cannot continue the way we have been, with special interests and lobbyists controlling state and federal budgets, serious deficit reduction being impossible with continued tax cuts, and sending more and more jobs overseas, only then can we slowly improve our economy and our country. Eventually, we need to move away from an income based tax program to a federal consumption-based sales tax.
When will the "left" understand that a high tax rate does nothing to stimulate the economy? It causes less hiring and stimulates the "left’s" spending habits to those who wish to sit on their butts and depend on the government to take care of them.
—Jim Hurst, Ocala, Fla.
Lower all taxes for all taxpayers and make it permanent. No tax reduction should have expiration because that leads to market instability.
We want the cuts to be made permanent! We also want the estate tax to remain where it is in 2010: zero. After all, lots of taxes were paid while estates are being accumulated. How are working families ever supposed to accumulate wealth to pass on to their future generations when the government steps in when they die and confiscates the lion’s share of their life’s work? I think the death tax is the most egregious tax of all! Have you ever noticed that those screaming the loudest against tax cuts are those who benefit from government greed and government EXCESS? That would be anyone who works for the government, those who represent them and those collecting checks from the government. Every level of government needs to reduce spending and start living within their means, like us taxpayers who pay the bills do!
—George Thomas, Ogden
Only by removing reluctance to invest in our economy by individuals and small business can we hope to begin real economic recovery.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
Leave the tax cuts alone and start looking at cutting spending. We are not the appointed savior for the world’s problems therefore we should stop spending billions everywhere else and pay more attention to our needs.
Spending must be controlled at every level of government. Budgets/spending should be frozen (this would be a "cut" in government talk) and every program should be required to recertify its effectiveness and budget needs. The recertification would include a review of similar or duplicative programs delivering similar services with a view to reduce or consolidate programs. It might take a Grace Commission approach over three to five years. It will take a stronger group of politicians than currently in power. And we’ll need someone to lead instead of posturing.
You’re kidding, right? What part of overtaxed do people not get!
—Jim Duke, Victor
Your article did not mention that the highest income taxpayer tax hike would impact more than 50 percent of all small business owners, our country’s largest source of jobs. You did manage to mention, however, that under Obama’s plan, those who would not get a tax increase is 98 percent of all households. It is a well-known fact that the reductions in capital gains tax rates have always increased revenue. This article should also have included these facts: 47 percent of household tax filers pay no federal income tax, the top 10 percent filers pay 71 percent of all federal income tax. The problem is not revenue—it is out-of-control spending.
—Steve Taylor, North American Filter Corp.
Spending reductions must be made but the tax cuts should not be held hostage to the cuts.
Are we are where we are because we are taxed too little or we spend too much? Bush had seven years of prosperity because of the tax cuts. There was only a problem in the last year of his second term.
—Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com
Income level. Even this survey states "roughly 98 percent" fall under the "highest income" level. Clearly Obama’s plan will help most of us, and help the deficit, too!
Any resumption of a tax will influence spending for those affected. Just by the numbers, the 2 percent or 3 percent affected by the resumption on the highest earners will have the least affect on the general economy. I say hold off for a couple of years, letting the economy find its feet and then resume the taxes on the highest earners. If the cuts are taken away from the lower and middle class earners, the economic recovery will certainly be even more protracted than it is now and the added revenue will only have to be used for more relief spending. Of course, ANY resumption of ANY tax should be matched against reductions in spending. Or, just have the courage to reduce spending and there wouldn’t be a need for reimposing the taxes.
What we are all not understanding is that these are not the "Bush" tax cuts, they are the current tax rates. Tax rates are more than generous to operate the state and federal governments. What is in need of correction is the spending rates in all levels of government. Correct the unrestrained spending and the need to tax us all out of our wealth will subside. We need to elect more fiscally responsible representatives and limit our government to the essentials that are dictated by the Constitution.
—Dave Coriale, Webster
The topic shouldn’t be tax cuts—it should be spending cuts. Of course the basic fundamental goal should be tax cuts. But that doesn’t come without cutting spending. When looking at any government budget from village, town, city, county, state or federal, the simple fact is that any successful small business owner that is surviving in New York State could trim enough waste and excess to not only lower taxes, but balance the budget as well. Review the budgets for NYS Social Services and you will discover that the people needed to run that huge bureaucracy is staggering. Throw in government pay, medical and pensions, and it gets even worse. Then, consider the cash flow to New York State residents via social services. It’s criminal! Taking hard-earned pay in the form of taxes and giving it to people who do not deserve it is against every principal our country was founded on. That is one entire department that we could eliminate, from management to client! Couple that with politicians focused on elections and not the business of the taxpayers, and you have the norm today. A major flawed concept is the simple analogy of comparing the public and private sector professionals to justify pay rates and benefits (supposedly to attract "qualified" "public servants"?). Two comments: 1) If the public sector people were capable and comparable, we would not be in the fiscal dire straits that we are now. 2) There is a HUGE difference between managing a budget with an endless supply of funds (taxes) and no accountability (especially with repercussions), versus managing a budget that depends on a revenue stream created by your own hand (conducting business in a profitable manner and satisfying customers) with the repercussion of losing your job if you fail. So really, there is no comparison. This is not rocket science. How do you run your household? If you can’t afford it or make the payments, don’t spend it. Period. It’s up to the people to say, "Stop using my money in this fashion, or you’re out of a job!" The message is to quit creating a smokescreen and talk about tax cuts. Bill Clinton ran a campaign on the slogan, "It’s the economy, stupid!" Well, I would like to alter that for today’s message, "It’s the spending, stupid!" The key to fiscal soundness is to limit and control spending. Educate yourself, form your own opinion, and vote this November!
Obama has the right idea. Trickle down has been consistently proven wrong and gap between the rich and the struggling just gets wider and wider. We need to restore the middle class by taxing those that can easily afford it and increasing the ability for the average small business owner or tax payer to retain as much as possible of the first $200,000 a year of their earnings to be spent in the economy. The tax cuts without spending cuts were just foolish behavior that got us into this mess in the first place. Any extension of the cuts to anyone should be contingent upon spending decreases.
—Lee Drake, Os-Cubed, Inc.
For some reason, the option of cutting spending is never discussed in the public forum. I am glad you have mentioned it in your poll. However, it should be not just tied to tax cuts but should be the first consideration in any discussion about the budget so we can reduce the size and cost of government. Business does it all the time. We ask ourselves all the time, "how can we be more efficient?" Government should be doing the same. Reduce costs and a natural reduction in taxes should logically follow.
Of course the tax cuts should be extended across the board, and they should be coupled with a $1 trillion cut in spending. After that, there should be targeted tax cuts for small businesses and repeal of the health care fiasco.
The death tax is not mentioned, but I understand that reinstatement of it is also being considered by the Democrats. That tax is, and always has been, an unfair, and almost immoral, tax. That being said, the cutoff (upper) limit for income taxes should be MUCH higher than $250,000, if any raise is needed, and tying the cuts to spending reductions is, of course, rational and prudent. The raise should have a sunset provision as well, income taxes being fundamentally counter-productive. By the way, it is interesting that the bulk of our debt was incurred by the same administration seeking to raise income taxes.
Small business has not seen the financial stimulus. The banks are not lending and the investors have pulled back. The small-business startups are at a standstill. Medgraph had 100 percent success rate for health care communications grants from 2006 to 2008. Since 2008, we have submitted eight new grants and received zero awards. More stimulus is needed for the smallest of businesses.
—Ed Schlueter, president, Medgraph, Inc.
Cut government waste and spending, lower taxes and watch the economy thrive. It is not difficult. Oh, wait, it is difficult because some people think that we should grow government, raise taxes on the earners and builders, and hope that our huge government equals the playing field and hands us each a loaf of bread every Tuesday from the back of a truck. Good luck.
—Kenny Harris, EPIC Advisors
Our economy is weak and is limping at this time. This is not the time to impose new taxes. In addition, we are kind of becoming a socialistic society. Why rob the very successful who work hard, create jobs and pay much of the taxes? In my opinion, the government is not doing enough to invigorate the country with values and teach people to carry their load. The government should reduce spending. The Bush tax cuts should be extended for 10 years.
—Harry Kocher, Penfield
Tax cuts for those over $250,000—80 percent of whom have incomes exceeding a million dollars a year—resulted in a net loss in jobs under G.W. Bush. By comparison, over 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton years, with a budget surplus when GWB took office. The tax cuts for the middle class and below are needed during a recession or consumer demand will be hurt further, causing more job loss.
—Jim Bertolone, president, Rochester & Vicinity AFL-CIO
Those who say tax cuts should only be extended for those below $250,000 fall into the "tax the rich" trap. Many small businesses like mine would face a huge tax increase that takes away our needed cash used to reinvest in the company or pay our employees 401(k) accounts. If you tax me, you tax my employees. Stupid class warfare that even Castro now admits doesn’t work.
—R. J. Brinkman, Brinkman International Group
In general, high taxes are counterproductive to economic vitality. Upstate New York is a good example of that. Therefore, any more taxes on the state or federal level will be counterproductive to a recovery. High taxes promote government employment at the expense of private employment. Recently, even communist Cuba gets it. They are considering laying off 500,000 government workers so the private sector can expand instead. Why doesn’t our state and federal leaders use the same solution of cutting government employment and let the private sector expand. The private sector should have more resources not less. The Obama administration is overusing Keynesian economics as a solution by confiscation of resources from the private sector and putting it in the hands of government. This is a failed policy. The key to success is to reduce taxes and decrease government spending.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.
Elimination of the tax cuts for the top 10 percent of earners is not punishment, it’s simply having them pay their fair share. When the Bush administration took office, there was a budget surplus, and the pay-go approach started before Clinton took office was effective. Now our economy has an unprecedented trade imbalance, and we still continue to depend on imported oil. We are suffering from the aftermath of a Republican administration that fostered a fear based growth in the size of the Federal work force, funded two questionable wars which will most likely cost more than a trillion dollars when all material and human costs are calculated and encouraged a “wild west” regulatory environment that led to the collapse of the housing and financial markets. Giving the middle class some tax relief will lead to more consumer spending. Although not specifically addressed in the question, I do support the president’s plan to offer greater tax relief and perhaps more incentives to grow small businesses.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
The federal government is not my father. Nor is the state government my mother. Governments should provide defense and basic infrastructure only. Otherwise, "don’t tread on me!"
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency, Inc.
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