Americans Deeply Divided Over Tax-Cut Extensions


While most people support extending at least some of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire this year, Americans are deeply divided on which cuts should continue. According to a Gallup/USA Today survey released Wednesday, 40% of respondents say the extensions should apply to all Americans, while 44% say that cuts for the wealthy should be excluded.

Respondents generally follow party lines in their opinions about how long the extensions should last: Almost 70% of Democrats say any tax cuts should be temporary, while 56% of Republicans support permanent tax cuts, according to the poll. Meanwhile, about 13% of those polled think the George W. Bush-era tax cuts should expire this year.

These differing opinions are reflected in Washington, where President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats continue to wrangle with Senate Republicans over the issue. The House of Representatives is set to vote on the bulk of the tax cuts Thursday, while Senate Republicans have vowed to block all new legislation until tax cuts are extended -- and until the government passes a bill to fund federal-government operations, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

If that happens, the block would hamper Democrats' attempts to eliminate the U.S. Defense Department's ban on openly gay military personnel and to provide legal status to illegal immigrants attending college or serving in the military, according to the AP.

On Tuesday, Obama said that he would work with U.S. senators to reach a tax-policy agreement by the end of the year. He assigned U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew to work with Congress members on both sides of the aisle to reach an accord, Reuters reported.

The Bush-era tax cuts have been a major point of contention between Obama, who wants to increase the capital-gains tax while granting tax breaks to the middle class and small businesses, and Republicans, who say ending the tax breaks would hamper the country's economic recovery.