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Public Opinion Snapshot: Earth to Conservatives: Don’t Raise Taxes on the Poor and Middle Class

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Conservatives in Congress are standing firm against keeping and extending the temporary payroll tax cut passed last year. That means come January 1, taxes will go up for the middle class and poor, taking money out of workers’ paychecks and dragging down the already weak economy. Conservatives’ rather blasé attitude toward this possibility contrasts sharply with their fanatic concern that taxes for the rich must never, ever go up in any circumstances.

The public is unlikely to be pleased by conservatives’ lack of interest in their economic welfare. A just-released United Technologies/National Journal poll finds that 58 percent of the public thinks Congress should act now to extend the payroll tax cut, compared to just 32 percent who think Congress should not.

public supports extending the payroll tax cut

But the public does believe taxes should be raised on the rich. The lastest example of this sentiment comes from a CNN/ORC poll on the super committee’s plans for reducing the deficit. The survey found by 2-to-1 (67-32) that the public approved of increases in taxes on “businesses and higher-income Americans” to help bring down the deficit.

public supports tax increases for the rich and businesses

This is not hard to understand. Hard-pressed voters do not think their taxes should be raised but do think the affluent can afford to lend their country a helping hand.

Apparently conservatives cannot—or just don’t want to—understand the public’s crystal-clear views in this area. They’re apparently betting that voters will blame President Obama for the state of the economy and won’t notice that conservatives protect the rich while refusing to help out ordinary workers even one bit. These data suggest that may be a poor assumption.

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