Do Americans Support Higher Taxes?

Seeking to beat back Republican protestations that tax hikes, business or individual, are a no-go in any deal to raise the federal debt limit, Bruce Bartlett calls out poll after poll that show Americans support higher rates. A sampling:

A June 9 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 61 percent of people believe higher taxes will be necessary to reduce the deficit.

A June 7 Pew poll found strong support for tax increases to reduce the deficit; 67 percent of people favor raising the wage cap for Social Security taxes, 66 percent raising income tax rates on those making more than $250,000, and 62 percent favor limiting tax deductions for large corporations. A plurality of people would also limit the mortgage interest deduction.

A May 26 Lake Research poll of Colorado voters found that they support higher taxes on the rich to shore-up Social Security's finances by a 44 percent to 25 percent margin.

A May 13 Bloomberg poll found that only one third of people believe it is possible to substantially reduce the budget deficit without higher taxes; two thirds do not.

A May 12 Ipsos/Reuters poll found that three-fifths of people would support higher taxes to reduce the deficit.

A May 4 Quinnipiac poll found that people favor raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit by a 69 percent to 28 percent margin.

Keep in mind, however, that "raising taxes" generally is far less popular than reducing federal spending, as a budgetary fix. People don't seem to like the idea of paying more, themselves. Here's one result from the first Washington Post/ABC poll listed above:

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 3.53.24 PM.png

Tax hikes get more popular when they're specified as only applying to people who make lots of money, and when they're compared to other deficit-reducing options like raising the retirement age and reducing Medicare benefits.

In the June 7 Pew survey, upper-income tax hikes were the third most popular means of deficit reduction. Cuts to Social Security, proposed by Obama's fiscal commission and discussed during the current debt-ceiling talks, were unpopular:

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 3.27.04 PM.png
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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