News Column

One in 5 Americans Say Tax Cuts Should Be Left Off Table

February 21, 2013

Staff --


With the next "fiscal cliff" deadline only a week away, Americans are torn about who to blame if President Obama and the U.S. Congress cannot reach a deal to avoid mandated budget cuts.

That's the finding of an opinion survey released Thursday by Pew Research Center and USA TODAY.

Pew -- which conducted the Feb. 13-18, 2013, survey -- polled 1,504 adults nationwide to gauge the public's reaction to the stalemate between the White House and a Republican led House. If a deal is not reached over how to manage the nation's estimated $16.3 trillion deficit, it could result in more than $100 billion in across-the-board annual spending cuts to all Federal programs except Social Security and Medicaid.

The majority of Americans favor some level of spending reductions, according to the Pew/USA Today survey, which found 70 percent of adults polled believe the president and Congress should pass major legislation to reduce the federal budget.

The level of interest among Americans who support budget reductions has increased sharply since 2009, according to Pew.

This week's survey found 76 percent of respondents believe the president and Congress "should focus on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit," Pew reported. "Just 19 percent agree with the current Republican position that tax increases should be off the table."

The good news for Barack Obama is that the majority of Americans -- 51 percent -- approve of the job he is doing. That's down from the president's job approval rating just after the election in November, when 55 percent told Pew they approve of his job performance in the Oval Office.

In contrast, just 25 percent of respondents said they approved of the job performance of Republican congressional leaders. The approval rating for their Democratic counterparts in the U.S. House and Senate stands at 37 percent, Pew reported.

If no budget deal is reached, only 31 percent of respondents said they would blame the president, while 49 percent "say congressional Republicans would be more to blame," according to Pew/USA TODAY.

Focusing on the sequestration aspects of the survey -- which currently mandate significant spending reductions, including massive cuts in the Department of Defense that reportedly could impact hundreds of thousands of DOD civilian contractors -- Pew found that 19 percent of respondents think Congress and the White House should focus solely on spending cuts, as opposed to tax increases only (16 percent) or a combination of both (76 percent).

Among Republicans, 42 percent of respondents said they favor deficit reduction alone, with no tax increases. That compares to just 6 percent of Democrats who don't want tax increases and 18 percent of independents who said they favor spending reductions without raising taxes.

To view the survey see Pew Research "If No Deal is Struck Four-in-Ten Say Let the Sequester Happen."

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