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Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans Want to Extend the Payroll Tax Cut Now

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The president wants Congress to immediately extend the payroll tax cut to the end of the year. If it’s not extended money will be taken straight out of workers’ pockets, resulting in less consumer spending and yet another brake on the as-yet modest recovery. But conservatives have been noticeably reticent about signing onto the payroll tax cut extension—evidently the plight of ordinary workers concerns them far less than preserving (and extending!) tax cuts for the rich.

The public, however, clearly wants a payroll tax cut extension. The latest evidence comes from a recently released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll asked the public whether it thought "extending the payroll tax cut to the end of this year" was a good idea or a bad idea. By a wide 55 percent to 17 percent margin, people thought the extension was a good idea.

Figure 1

The poll pushed respondents on this view, giving both supporters’ and opponents’ arguments on the extension. The public remained resolutely in favor of the proposal, however, by a very healthy 58 percent to 26 percent margin.

Figure 2

It’s time for conservatives to get out the way and give the public what it wants. Just this once, they should put ordinary workers and the health of the economy before their sacred principle of rewarding the rich.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here