TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Majority of Americans Support Higher Taxes to Reduce Deficit

Bruce Bartlett (Capital Gains and Games), Americans Support Higher Taxes. Really:

Contrary to Republican dogma, polls show that the American people strongly support higher taxes to reduce the deficit and improve income inequality. Following are 18 different polls since the first of the year that say so.

  1. Washington Post/ABC News (June 9)
  2. Pew (June 7)
  3. Lake Research (May 26)
  4. Bloomberg (May 13)
  5. Ipsos/Reuters (May 12)
  6. Gallup (April 29)
  7. USC/L.A. Times (April 25)
  8. New York Times/CBS News (April 22)
  9. Washington Post/ABC News (April 20)
  10. Public Religion Research Institute (April 20)
  11. McClatchy-Marist (April 18)
  12. Gallup (April 18)
  13. Tulchin Research (April 1)
  14. ABC News/Washington Post (March 15)
  15. NBC News/Wall Street Journal (March 2)
  16. CBS News (Feb. 15)
  17. CBS News/New York Times (Jan. 20)
  18. 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair (Jan. 3)

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"to reduce the deficit and improve income inequality"

Translation - "Raise taxes on people who make more than me."

What a worthless interpretaion of multiple polls to support class warfare....

Posted by: Woody | Jun 30, 2011 1:35:39 PM

Throw in a balanced budget ammendment and/or similar REAL constraints and reduction on spending and I am on board. Our country is not run by grown ups anymore.

Posted by: Dave | Jun 30, 2011 1:49:40 PM

I clicked on the Gallup Poll link above. I did not really see how "About half of Americans continue to believe their own taxes are too high, while the slight majority consider their tax bill fair..." (as stated in the Gallup Article) equates to "the American people strongly support higher taxes to reduce the deficit and improve income inequality." Did I miss something?

Posted by: Lt. Dangle | Jun 30, 2011 2:58:53 PM

The American people don't realize that raising taxes won't even make a dent in the deficit. Class warfare is great political theater, but there's no basis in reality for the rhetoric being thrown around by the administration and the Democrats.

Posted by: Linda | Jul 1, 2011 5:25:58 AM

Lt. Dangle -- The Apr 29 Gallup poll shows that Americans support higher taxes to reduce the deficit (76% say taxes should be raised, 20% say spending cuts alone, and 4% say other/no opinion). The Apr 18 Gallup poll speaks to the income inequality piece (59% say upper-income people pay too little).

Posted by: Carl Davis | Jul 1, 2011 6:22:45 AM

To Lt. Dangle: Don't those proportions you cite roughly correlate to the proportions of those who do and do not pay income taxes in this country?

To Linda: I agree entirely. That said, during the past several weeks, at least editorials in the Wall Street Journal have cited an authoritative study of debt and deficit restructurings by developed countries during the past three or four decades. The study concluded, as I recall, that those countries that succeeded in significantly reducing national debts and deficits did so with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases consisting of 85% spending cuts and 15% tax increases.

Following that study, I say find some easily terminated revenue raisers in the code, then come up with a rate increase (don't hide it in Schedule A deduction limitations) to arrive at the 15% figure. I also think the increased rate should be a separately computed surtax which is remitted not to the Treasury but to the Bureau of Public Debt. Assign an inspector general to ensure that the surtax is being so remitted.

Posted by: SAM | Jul 1, 2011 6:55:28 AM

Uh, there's actually quite a bit of basis in economic reality for the idea that tax increases have an effect on the deficit. Slapping a meaningless rhetorical label on it like "class warfare" doesn't really address its economic substance.

Posted by: Marketplace | Jul 1, 2011 7:14:43 AM

Poll no. 19 is an online poll, anyone can vote, probably multiple times. Absolutely unscientific. He misstates what Poll no. 18, apparently a statiscally valid poll, says. Bartlett's article says ". . . close to two-thirds of people would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for Social Security or Medicare in order to stabilize their finances." What the poll results stated were 1) that in response to the question, "In order to reduce the federal budget deficit, do you think it will be necessary or not necessary to cut back on government programs that benefit people like you? 55% of respondents agreed it would be necessary to reduce spending, and 2) that in response to the question, "If you HAD to choose ONE, which would you prefer in order to reduce the federal budget deficit – raising taxes on people like you or reducing spending on government programs that benefit people like you?" 62% of respondents said "reduce spending." After that, I didn't even bother to look at what the other polls actually said. Two questions: Does Bartlett think no one notices he is lying? Why does his blog get referenced here where most of the other references are to legitimate sources?

Posted by: TexEcon | Jul 1, 2011 8:18:16 AM

We don't have a deficit because Americans aren't paying enough in taxes.

Posted by: Woody | Jul 1, 2011 8:35:40 AM

@SAM: They do roughly equate, but I think it you are going to classify this poll as conclusively stating "Majority of Americans Support Higher Taxes to Reduce Deficit" it better be more accurate than that. Regardless, as Carl Davis stated, apparently there is a later poll more in line with the conclusion of the article.

Posted by: Lt. Dangle | Jul 1, 2011 1:24:25 PM