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Sweeping majority supports extension of Bush tax cuts

More than 95 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll support a one-year extension of the income-tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Readers are split, however, on who should get these extended cuts.

On Monday, President Barack Obama proposed a one-year extension for taxpayers earning less than $250,000. Some 44 percent of respondents support this proposal, with 70 percent of Democrats favoring the extension for this group versus 25 percent of Republicans.

Republicans, including presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, want to extend the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers. Thirty-seven percent of Snap Poll respondents favor giving all taxpayers the break. But again there is a sharp divide by political affiliation—nearly 60 percent of Republicans favor this approach, compared with just 7 percent of Democrats.

Some Democrats such as Sen. Charles Schumer of New York favor a $1 million cut-off. Fourteen percent of respondents agree those earning less than $1 million should be eligible for the one-year extension. It was supported by 18 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of Republicans.

The Obama plan would cost the government $150 billion in revenue, the White House estimates, while an extension for all taxpayers would cost an estimated $223 billion.

The president—who also has supported a permanent extension with a $250,000 cut-off—says that his proposal would cover 98 percent of households and 97 percent of small businesses, adding that “it’s time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—folks like myself—to expire.” A Romney spokesperson responded by saying that “the last thing we need to do in this economy is to raise taxes on anyone.”

When asked about a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts, more than 80 percent were in favor.

Roughly 700 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted July 9 and 10.

Do you support a one-year extension of the Bush tax cuts?
Among all respondents:
Yes, for all taxpayers: 37%
Yes, for those earning less than $1 million: 14%
Yes, for those earning less than $250,000: 44%
No: 4%

Among Republicans:
Yes, for all taxpayers: 59%
Yes, for those earning less than $250,000: 25%
Yes, for those earning less than $1 million: 12%
No: 4%

Among Democrats:
Yes, for those earning less than $250,000: 70%
Yes, for those earning less than $1 million: 18%
Yes, for all taxpayers: 7%
No: 5%

Among those non-affiliated/other:
Yes, for all taxpayers: 36%
Yes, for those earning less than $250,000: 46%
Yes, for those earning less than $1 million: 13%
No: 5%

Would you support a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts permanently?
Yes, for all taxpayers: 34% 
Yes, for those earning less than $1 million: 14% 
Yes, for those earning less than $250,000: 33% 
No: 19% 

What is your political affiliation?
Republican: 37% 
Democrat: 25% 
Non-affiliated: 34% 
Other: 5% 

COMMENTS:

We keep arguing on short-term policies that have little effect on the health of the overall economy. Stability far into the future should be the goal. Establishing the conditions necessary for business to prosper is what will help the most the fastest. Uncertainty for businesses and individuals is a key cause of stagnation. Tax reform is needed. The objective should be overall economic growth for the greatest number of people. This is what defines fairness. Incentives should be built into the tax code that encourage all people to work and to work together. The most important incentive (rewards for those in Congress and local/state government to improve living conditions and to do a good job) should be adopted. Tax laws/structure should be modified in the future according to agreed-upon metrics that benefit the greatest number of people. The president of the United States should be elected for ONE term so as to avoid so much time, distraction devoted to reelection. Term limits (eight years) should be applied to Congress. Vast majority and percentage of our problems are traced to our system of government, not to the individuals elected. We are not getting decision-making based on what is good for the country; rather, we are getting decisions based on what is best for Congress. The system is rewarding the undesirable behavior that Congress and the president are exhibiting.
—Ray McClure, Avalon Associates

The Bush tax cuts should be extended for now until the next president can lead a complete tax reform program.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield

A tax increase on wealthier Americans should be coupled with having all citizens paying some income tax. It is not reasonable that some would pay no tax, nor is it unreasonable that those who benefit most from this country’s resources pay a greater amount in taxes.
—Michael L. Harf

Taxes and regulations are killing our economy. We need to reduce both. “Fairness” is a stupid reason to put people out of work. What is the definition of a fair tax? (Answer: 100 percent tax on everybody.) The more we follow the PC School of Economics, the less everybody has. Pretty soon we’ll have the ultimate fair economy—we’ll all have nothing. The answer to our economic problems is less government spending and control. It works every time it’s tried.
—Dennis Ditch

Make the extensions permanent! Government must learn to make do with less, just like the rest of us! With Obamacare now upheld, we will all be giving it right back anyway in new “penalties,” or, was that a tax?
—George Thomas, Ogden

The Bush tax rates are a step in the right direction but fall short of what is really needed. Broadening the tax base and including the bulk of U.S. taxpayers into paying something is the best way to get people to have a vested interest in taking control of the irresponsible spending that Congress is guilty of. The government cannot maintain the mission to supplant the individual freedoms that the Constitution guarantees each of us by controlling more and more of our lives and confiscating more and more of our wealth. The current “redistribution” process is out of control and spending must be curbed and a long-term process of balancing the federal budget is required if we are to remain a free country.
—Dave Coriale, Webster

A political move by our imperial leader, for sure. We need to keep these tax cuts and reduce the cost of government accordingly. We cannot continue to have government grow and the private sector shrink or we will never see an improved economy.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

Our tax rates are among the highest in the world. It’s elementary that if you tax something, you get less of it, whether it’s alcohol consumption or investment into jobs by business and effort by individuals. Obama is playing class warfare. In late 2010 he argued the Bush tax cuts should be extended because not to do so would hurt the fragile recovery. Today is different? He also would raise taxes on small businesses held in Subchapter S or similar form, who have created most of the new jobs, but not on large corporations. Finally, his policy would create even more uncertainty, which will incentivize business owners to sit on their hands and not invest. When Reagan cut taxes, the economy was growing at almost a 7 percent rate and had added millions of net new jobs by late in his first term. 2012 will be the third year of about 1.6 percent GDP growth, a historic low. Do we need to continue the experiments of this administration?
—Peter Durant, Nixon Peabody

I thought the president was blaming all bad things on former President Bush. Would this proposal be a veiled attempt to continue using the “Bush excuse”?
—George Traikos

All taxpayers, even those whose taxable income is greater than $250,000, will benefit by the lower rates. Only that portion of taxable income that is $250,000 or more will be hit with the higher marginal rates. Further, it turns out that expenses related to “job creation” reduce a person’s (or business’) taxable income. Therefore, arguments that we “job creators” will be significantly affected by higher marginal tax rates are more than a little bogus.
—Steve Hooper, president, Health Economics Group Inc.

We need a balance of revenue and austerity to get back on our feet. I’m 67, and have never been able to borrow my way out of debt. It just doesn’t work for me as an individual. If we hope to hold onto a tradition of democracy, we must recapture a lost tradition of savings in contrast to the present tradition of borrowing.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

If we expect the Eurozone countries to adopt austerity plans, we should do so as well. We have programs in place that we can’t afford to continue as they are. A reversion to pre-Bush tax rates, especially for those earning less than $1 million, would be our “austerity” plan and would help pay for some of these entitlement programs.
—Irene Burke, Burke Group

Make the extensions permanent! Government must learn to make do with less, just like the rest of us! With Obamacare now upheld we will all be giving it right back anyway in new "penalties," or, was that a tax.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Bush is to blame for giving tax cuts, but we need to extend them now! Bush is to blame for keeping Gitmo open, but we decided it would be better if we did, too. Bush is to blame for unfairly trying insurgents in military courts, but we almost blew the one in a criminal court so we better forget that one. Bush is to blame for starting the war in Afghanistan, but we can’t seem to get ourselves out. Bush is to blame for the war in Iraq. Agreed. Bush is responsible for the surge in Iraq, which worked. We’ll do a surge in Afghanistan, but it appears to have limited success in the long run. Bush is to blame for our worsening relations around the globe, but we snub Israel, get in bed with Pakistan when they hate us, and get slapped by the Russians and call it a win. Bush is to blame for our current economic troubles although he has been gone for three years. Those great years before that were just lucky and you can’t blame the dot.com debacle on Clinton because Bush was going to be elected. As a Democrat, I’m glad that we aren’t responsible for any of this. Can’t we pass a bill that just raises taxes on those mean-spirited right wing conservatives?
—Bill Lanigan

Make them permanent. Maybe we need to practice a well-known software development strategy also a business success principle: that when introducing a new business idea, service, product or business concept that you need to prepare your business plan for success. You will also want a plan to set up criteria to fail-fast so you can pick up the pieces and rebuild! (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail-fast.) Stop the tax madness that is destroying our private sector job creation ability! Let’s turn the entrepreneur, small business loose to pick up the pieces and rebuild! Or maybe we need to vote for Obama so we can “fail fast.” Wake up some people in this country. So that the resilient American spirit can pick up the pieces and rebuild the economy and country. Of course, that is providing they don’t totally destroy our U.S.A. as a nation?
—G. Palis

I believe these HUGE federal deficits will hinder our economic wellbeing. It’s like a cancer that keeps consuming an ever larger part of our economy. We need a strong dose of “sanity,” and that means the Bush Tax Cuts should expire for—everyone! Further, at the same time we need to drastically reduce federal spending. Otherwise, we risk becoming the next Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, etc.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology, LLC

Can someone be candid and refer to so-called tax cuts as the current tax rates? They’ve gone through two administrations and at least should be called the "no will to do anything that might upset my political job" tax cuts. Does anyone in the Senate or House have the intestinal fortitude and attention span to truly tackle the tax code? Naaaaaahh!
—Bob Miglioratti

We need to deal with reality, which means not hurting consumer demand during a recession, so for now leave the tax cuts for those under $250,000.The larger tax cuts, in a climate of deregulation sought by business, such as in banking, trade and energy, gave us from 2001-2007, before the Great Recession, the most anemic job growth since Herbert Hoover. Conversely, both the jobs growth post WW II and during the Clinton administration happened when taxes on the wealthy were higher than current rates.
—Jim Bertolone, AFL-CIO

If you look at the record of the Bush tax cuts, they resulted in substantial increases in individual and corporate income taxes to the government. The Reagan tax cuts created the greatest economic growth in history which created profits that produced more taxes than would have been collected at higher tax rates. Higher tax rates discourage investment and entrepreneurship. That’s because these tax cuts followed the Milt Friedman philosophy, which states excess resources should be shifted from inefficient government and put it in the hands of the more efficient private sector. Right now government controls approximately 25 percent of gross domestic product. This is almost 40 percent more than what is was in the Clinton Administration. So in the long run government spending has to be kept stagnant or look at the results; $5 trillion in new debt over the past 3.5 years and there still is 8.2 percent unemployment. There is an additional approximately 10 percent of GDP, which is tied up in government regulation. The private sector will produce goods and services in a much more efficient manner than government and will unleash the economy. Ultimately, lower tax rates will encourage entrepreneurial entities, jobs and economic vitality, which will produce more taxes.
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.

As difficult as it is, Congress and the president need to significantly change the federal tax code along the lines of the Simpson-Bowles recommendation.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results

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