With the deadline nearing for Congressional Republicans and Democrats on the Super Committee to reach an agreement on how to reduce the federal budget deficit, most voters nationally are not confident that a deal will be reached.
According to this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, 85% of registered voters are not very confident or not confident at all that an agreement will be reached. 13% express some degree of confidence, and 2% are unsure.
“Congress may ultimately act in the eleventh hour, but the clock is ticking,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Voters have even less confidence in the Super Committee than they have in Congress as a whole.”
- Regardless of party, confidence is lacking. 88% of independent voters, 84% of Republicans, and 82% of Democratic voters are not confident an agreement will be reached.
On the specifics of the Super Committee’s proposal:
- More than eight in ten registered voters — 81% — say major cuts to Social Security and Medicare should not be included in the deficit reduction proposal while 17% report they should be, and 2% are unsure.
- 59% of registered voters do not think tax increases on businesses should be included in the plan while 35% disagree, and 6% are unsure. Here, there are partisan differences. Although 71% of Republican voters and 63% of independent voters don’t want these inclusions, Democrats divide. 45% of Democrats want tax increases to be part of the proposal while the same proportion — 45% — does not.
- Looking at major cuts in defense spending, a slim majority — 51% — doesn’t think these should be part of the deficit reduction proposal. 45% think they should be, and 4% are unsure. By party, 68% of Republicans and 54% of independent voters do not want to see these cuts rolled into the plan. More than six in ten Democrats — 62% — would like them to be included.
- However, about two-thirds of voters — 67% — want tax increases on higher-income Americans to be in the proposal while three in ten — 30% — do not. Three percent are unsure. By party, 83% of Democrats, 64% of independents, and 53% of Republicans believe increased taxes on higher-income Americans should be part of the proposal to reduce the deficit.
Who will voters blame if an agreement is not reached? There is enough blame to go around. 39% will point a finger at Congressional Republicans, 27% will blame Congressional Democrats, and 23% will hold both groups accountable. Two percent won’t blame either, and 8% are unsure.
Tax the Wealthiest Americans, Say More than Six in Ten
Nearly half of voters — 49% — support a so-called “millionaire’s tax” for individuals earning $200,000 or more and $250,000 or more for married couples. 43% oppose it, and 8% are unsure.
However, more voters — 61% — support a similar surcharge on Americans earning more than $1 million while 33% oppose such a federal surcharge, and 6% are unsure.
- 66% of Democrats and 51% of independent voters back such a tax on those earning at least $200,000. Republicans disagree with 64% against the proposed surcharge.
- 77% of Democrats and 62% of independent voters back a federal surcharge on income of $1 million or more while a slim majority of Republicans — 51% — oppose such a tax.
Voters’ Take on a Flat Tax
The concept of a flat tax, a system which applies one tax rate to all income levels, has been much talked about lately. What are voters’ views about such a tax? When it comes to the effect on the wealthy, 38% say it will lower the taxes of those in this income group. 36% believe it will raise the amount of taxes the wealthy pay while 21% think this group will pay the same amount of taxes. Five percent are unsure.
When it comes to the middle class, a plurality of voters — 43% — say a flat tax would result in the middle class paying about the same amount of taxes as they currently do. 37% report the middle class will shell out more tax dollars while 14% think the result will be lower taxes on the middle class, and 6% are unsure.
Looking at the impact on the poor, a majority of registered voters — 52% — say a flat tax rate would mean higher taxes for this group. One in four — 25% — report the poor will pay the same amount of taxes while 18% think a flat tax will lower the taxes of the poor. Five percent are unsure.
Many voters do not think the poor should be exempt from paying taxes. Six in ten — 60% — believe this group should be taxed on what they earn while 37% say the poor should be exempt from paying taxes. Three percent are unsure.
- Nearly half of Democratic voters — 49% — think a flat tax rate will lower taxes for the wealthy while 45% of Republicans and 40% of independent voters say it will raise taxes for this group.
- Looking at the middle class, 46% of Democrats believe a flat tax will increase taxes for this group while 46% of Republicans and 43% of independents think the middle class will pay the same amount of taxes.
- Majorities of Democrats — 57% — and independent voters — 51% — and nearly half of Republicans — 48% — think a flat tax will raise taxes on the poor.
- On the overall issue of taxing the poor, 71% of Republicans and 62% of independent voters report the poor should pay taxes on what they earn. However, Democrats divide. A slim majority — 51% — say the poor should be exempt from taxes while 47% think the poor should pay taxes on what they earn.
Lowest Approval Ratings for Congressional Republicans and Democrats
There’s bad news for the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Only 23% of voters approve of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing in office while 70% disapprove, and 7% are unsure. This is the lowest approval rating achieved by Congressional Republicans.
In September, 26% gave them good marks compared with 67% who disapproved and 8% who were unsure.
- Half of Republican voters — 50% — and 54% of Tea Party supporters disapprove of the job Congressional Republicans are doing.
It’s a similar story for Congressional Democrats who have also reached an all-time low. 28% of voters approve of the job they are doing in office while 65% disapprove, and 7% are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s September survey, 30% thought Congressional Democrats were doing well while 63% disapproved, and 7% were unsure.
- 58% of Democrats approve of the job Congressional Democrats are doing in office.
Regardless of the current focus on the Bush-era tax cuts, voters do not want taxes to be the top priority of the next Congress. According to 47% of voters, reducing the deficit should be the first item on their agenda. Maintaining services and benefits is viewed by nearly three in ten voters — 28% — as the key item on the next Congress’ list while 22% think cutting taxes should be their priority. Only 3% are unsure.
Although majorities of Republicans — 55% — and independents — 55% — want Congress to focus on reducing the deficit, a plurality of Democrats — 42% — think they should concentrate on maintaining services and benefits.
There is an age gap on this question. Older voters are much more concerned with cutting the deficit than are those between the ages of 18 to 29. 50% of those 45 and older think Congress should put its energies toward cutting the deficit while 38% of those younger than 30 agree.
Voters to Blame Congress if Decision on Bush-Era Tax Cuts Not Reached
If Congress and President Obama do not reach a final agreement and let the Bush-era tax cuts expire at year’s end, many registered voters nationwide will point a finger at Congress. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, 33% say Republicans in Congress will be mostly at fault while 29% say most of the blame rests on Congressional Democrats. About one in five — 19% — will hold President Obama accountable. 10% think all will share in the blame. Nine percent are unsure.
While nearly six in ten Democrats — 58% — will point a finger at Congressional Republicans, fewer than half of Republicans — 47% — will blame the Democrats in Congress. A notable 31% of Republicans will find the president at fault. Among independents, 32% will put the onus on the Republicans in Congress while 30% will blame the Democrats in Congress. 16% will point a finger at the president, and 11% blame all of them.
“Despite the expected passage of the tax cut issue, voters think there’s plenty of blame to go around,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “There are many disgruntled feelings, not the least of which is that Congressional priorities are out of sync with public desires.”
“Same old, Congress,” Say Voters
The new Congress will be seated in January, but how do voters think the current Congress is doing in the wake of this year’s midterm elections? Six in ten voters — 60% — say they are doing about the same. Almost one in five — 19% — think they are doing worse, and 16% report they are doing better. Just 5% are unsure.
And, so it’s probably no surprise, then, that many voters don’t believe Congress has learned a lot from this year’s midterm elections. Looking at Republicans in Congress, nearly four in ten voters — 37% — think Congressional Republicans have learned a little from this year’s midterm elections and an additional 22% believe they have learned nothing at all. 35%, however, say they have learned a lot, and 6% are unsure.
Democrats don’t fare better in the minds of voters. 35% think Congressional Democrats have taken away a little from the elections while 26% take it a step further and report Democrats learned nothing. 35%, though, say they have been enlightened, and 4% are unsure.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders tomorrow. A key item on the agenda — whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. Where do voters stand on the issue? According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, a majority of registered voters nationally — 51% — think the tax cuts should be extended only for the middle class but not for the top two percent, households earning $250,000 or more. 45% believe the tax breaks should be applied to everyone including the top two percent, and 4% are unsure.
When McClatchy-Marist last asked this question in September, 49% said the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended for just the middle class while 48% reported they should be extended to everyone. Three percent were unsure.
“This represents the first post-midterm election test of the nation’s political leadership,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. ”It comes on the crucial issue of finances and the economy.”
Partisan differences still exist on this question with 68% of Democrats saying the tax breaks should be extended to just the middle class and 62% of Republicans reporting they should be extended to everyone. Independents divide. 49% of these voters want the cuts applied only to the middle class while 48% think they should be extended for everyone. McClatchy-Marist found a similar partisan divide in its September poll.
Call for Compromise
As the debate between President Barack Obama and Republicans continues over the Bush-era tax cuts, a majority of voters want the two to find common ground. 53% want them to resolve their differences now while 42% think they should extend the current tax policy for two years. Five percent are unsure.
Democrats are more likely to think the issue should be resolved now with the Democratic Congress than are Republicans. 67% of Democrats think they should resolve their differences now while 57% of Republicans want the current policy extended for two years. A majority of independents — 54% — align with the Democrats on this question.
More Still View Economic Conditions as Inherited
President Obama continues to avoid blame for the country’s economic conditions. 65% of registered voters currently believe he inherited today’s economic conditions while 28% think they are a result of the president’s own policies. Eight percent are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s late October survey, 60% viewed the nation’s economic issues as inherited, 30% blamed the president’s policies, and 10% were unsure.
Half Full or Half Empty: Voters Divide About Future of U.S. Economy
When thinking about the future of the U.S. economy, 49% of registered voters think the worst is yet to come while 46% say the worst is behind us. Four percent are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s late October survey, 45% were pessimistic while 47% said the worst was over. Eight percent, at the time, were unsure.
Among residents, a majority — 51% — think there is more bad news on the economic horizon while 45% believe better days are ahead. Five percent are unsure. In that previous survey, 47% thought the worst is ahead, 45% said the worst is over, and 8% were unsure.
The Bush era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. As the debate in Washington rages on about whether to extend the cuts across the board or to limit the cuts to just the middle class, voters are weighing in. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 49% — believe the tax cuts should be extended to just the middle class but not to those who earn $250,000 or more annually while 48% want everyone to receive an extension of the tax cuts. 3% are unsure.
Partisan differences are alive and well on this question. Seven in ten Democratic voters — 70% — want the tax cuts extended for just the middle class while 64% of Republican voters want them extended for everyone. Independent voters divide with 49% saying they want everyone to enjoy the tax breaks while 47% believe the nation’s wealthiest two percent should not be included.
“The battle lines over the Bush era tax cuts are drawn with an eye focused on the midterm elections,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The stakes for President Obama, the Democrats, and the GOP in Congress couldn’t be any higher.”
Do voters consider an annual household income of $250,000 or more wealthy? A majority of registered voters — 55% — say it is while 45% believe it is not.
About two-thirds of Democratic voters — 67% — and a majority of independent voters — 54% — view an annual household income of $250,000 or more as being wealthy while 54% of Republican voters do not.
Economy Will Worsen, Say Majority of Americans
A majority of U.S. residents are pessimistic about the future of the nation’s economy. 52% think the worst is yet to come when thinking about America’s economy. However, 44% believe the worst is behind us. 4% are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these sentiments.
There is a partisan difference on this question. 60% of Democrats believe the worst is behind us while 68% of Republicans say the worst is yet to come. A majority of independents nationwide — 55% — also think the worst is still ahead.
This dismal view of the economy crosses regional, gender, and income divides. However, Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 — 55% — and college graduates — 51% — are much more optimistic, saying that, when it comes to the economy, the worst is behind us.
Although the recession has been officially declared over, most U.S. residents think the country is still in one. 80% have this view while 18% disagree. 2% are unsure.
“Notwithstanding official calculations about the end of the recession, the public clearly sees things very differently,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
When Marist last asked this question in April 2008, more than three-quarters — 78% — thought the country was in a recession while 17% thought it was not. 5%, at the time, were unsure.
Majority Expect Steady Financial Picture
Although most Americans have a pessimistic view of the overall economy, residents remain cautiously optimistic about their own personal family finances. 52% think their personal financial situation will remain the same in the next year while 30% believe it will get better. Still nearly one in five — 18% — expect it to get worse.
Little has changed since Marist last asked this question in July. At that time, the same proportion — 52% — said their personal finances would stay the same, 33% reported they would get better, and 15% thought they would get worse.
Not surprisingly, Americans who think the worst of the nation’s economic problems are behind us are more likely to have a brighter outlook of their personal financial situation. 54% of these Americans report their money matters will stay about the same while 39% believe they will improve. Only 7% say they will get worse.
Even 49% of those who think the U.S. economy will get worse report their financial situation will stay the same in the next year, and 22% think it will improve. 29%, though, say they expect it to deteriorate.
Majority Disapprove of Obama’s Handling of Economy
A majority of registered voters nationally — 56% — disapprove of how President Barack Obama is handling the economy while 41% approve. 3% are unsure.
When Marist last asked voters about Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, the electorate divided. 48% disapproved of the president’s fiscal approach while 46% approved. 6% were unsure.
Independent voters and Republican voters account for the increased dissatisfaction in the president’s handling of the economy. Nearly six in ten independent voters — 59% — currently disapprove of President Obama’s fiscal management while 51% held this view in June. There has also been a 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of Republican voters who disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy. 89% report this is the case while 79% shared this opinion in Marist’s previous survey.
Little has changed among Democratic voters on this question. 77% agree with how the president is dealing with the nation’s economy now compared with 76% who thought that way in June.
Not surprisingly, when thinking about the U.S. economy, 74% of voters who believe the worst is yet to come disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy while 65% who believe the worst is behind us approve of his fiscal approach.
Economic Conditions Still Viewed as Inherited
Nearly six in ten registered voters in the United States — 59% — think President Obama inherited the nation’s current economic conditions while 35% say they are a result of his own policies. 6% are unsure.
Although a majority views today’s economic crisis as inherited, Mr. Obama’s presidential cover on this issue may be diminishing. There has been a notable increase in the proportion of voters who report the status of the U.S. economy is Mr. Obama’s fault. When Marist last asked this question in June, 62% believed today’s economic conditions were thrust upon him while 28% thought they were a result of the president’s policies. 10% were unsure.
Republican voters are the game changer on this question. Currently, 59% attribute today’s tentative economic times to the president’s policies while 34% say he inherited them from his predecessor. 6% are unsure. In Marist’s June survey, 48% of GOP voters blamed the president while 42% thought he inherited the nation’s economic problems. 10% were unsure.
Little has changed among Democratic voters, 82% report the country’s economic crisis was handed to the president compared with 15% who say the onus is on him. 3% are unsure. In June, 78% said the president inherited the country’s economic conditions, 12% pointed a finger at Mr. Obama’s policies, and 10% were unsure.
Looking at independent voters, 62% call the economy “inherited” while 32% blame the president. 6% are unsure. 61%, 30%, and 9%, respectively, held these views in Marist’s previous survey.
75% of voters who think the worst of the nation’s economic conditions have passed say the president inherited the country’s financial problems. Voters who think the worse is yet to come divide. 48% report they are a result of the president’s own policies while 46% say they are inherited.
Do New York City residents favor or oppose Governor Paterson’s proposed tax on sugary drinks? Will it impact their drinking habits?
Find out the answer in a Marist Poll conducted exclusively for the Wall Street Journal. To read the full Wall Street Journal article, click here.
Tables for The Marist Poll Conducted Exclusively for the Wall Street Journal:
A majority — 53% — of registered New York City voters disapprove of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to increase the city’s sales tax to 8.875% while 42% approve of the idea to increase city revenues this way.
However, when explained to voters that Mayor Bloomberg says his proposal to hike the city’s sales tax half a percent is not ideal but is a solution to avoid additional spending cuts in the city’s budget and reduce the number of layoffs, slightly more — 46% — support the idea. This compares with 49% of the electorate that agrees with Mayor Bloomberg’s opponents who argue the proposal is not a solution since it will burden the low and middle classes.
City voters also stand strong in their opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to reinstate the city’s sales tax on clothing. 59% disapprove of the idea while 38% approve.
Overall, 53% of registered New York City voters report they disapprove of Mayor Bloomberg’s tax policy. But, when faced with a choice, 43% of New York City voters say they would prefer the mayor raise taxes to cutting programs and services. In contrast, 39% would rather see cuts than a greater tax burden. 18% can’t decide.
Will procrastination pay off? Although one in five Americans wait until the final moments to file their taxes, 80% do not wait, according to the latest Marist Poll. In fact, the proportion of early filers increases when looking at U.S. residents who expect to get a refund. 89% of those lucky Americans say they mail in their returns prior to the deadline. But, early birds aren’t necessarily spread out across the country. Residents in the West are more likely to wait to file their taxes than are Americans in other parts of the country. 29% report they hold out until April 15th to mail in their returns.
Majority Expects Refund
A majority of Americans — 56% — are optimistic that they will receive a refund. However, nearly one in four does not expect to get any money back. Families with children under the age of 18 years old are more likely to expect a refund than are households without children. 62% of households with children say, “Yes, we’ll be getting money back,” compared with slightly more than half of households without children.
Big Plans for Refunds?
If the Obama Administration is expecting tax refunds to stimulate the economy, they might be in for a rude awakening. Of those Americans who expect to receive money back from the government, half say they will use that money to pay their bills, including 51% of residents who earn less than $100,000 a year. 35% of Americans who expect to see some money report they will mostly save their newly found cash while 15% plan to shop ‘til they drop. Women, however, are less likely to hit the mall with their refunds. Just 11% of women compared with 19% of men report they will spend the money. Instead, 59% of women and 42% of men say they will pay their bills.
The global economic crisis has hit New York City hard, especially on the city’s bottom line. But what should be done about it? When asked to choose, more registered voters — 48% — say they would prefer Mayor Bloomberg raise taxes in order to balance the city’s budget rather than cut government programs and services. 41% support the latter option. However, when it comes to increasing the city’s sales tax, a majority of New York City voters — 53% — opposes Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal while just 44% approve of the measure. What about the mayor’s idea to once again require a sales tax on clothing? Nearly six in ten voters — 57% — disapprove compared with 40% who support the mayor’s plan.