Majority supports taxing the rich to help reduce record budget deficits

In the sea of handmade placards and signs that can be found at the site of the Occupy Wall Street protest in downtown Manhattan, there are a great number which feature calls to raise taxes on America’s wealthiest households and corporations.  Surprisingly, the protesters may have some unlikely allies among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents.

According to a new Washington Post-Bloomberg News poll, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents do not oppose raising taxes on the wealthiest households in the United States.  54% of those who identified themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning Independents said they support raising taxes on households with incomes of 250 thousand dollars per year or more to help reduce the nation’s budget deficit.  41% opposed the idea.  Among all adults, the majority was even more pronounced: 68% said they support such a measure while just 27% opposed it.  

Raising taxes on households with incomes of 250 thousand dollars a year or more was by far the most popular deficit cutting measure tested by the pollster.  Among all adults, 79% opposed raising taxes on the middle class, 83% opposed reducing Social Security benefits and 82% opposed reducing Medicare benefits.  Comparable majorities were found among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents: 83% opposed raising taxes on the middle class, 79% opposed reducing Social Security benefits and 77% opposed reducing Medicare benefits. 

The only deficit reduction measure on which the majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents diverged from that of all adults was on military spending.  Among all adults, a slight majority – 51% – said they favor reducing military spending.  Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, a 56% majority opposed reducing military spending to help reduce the nation’s budget deficit. Though the poll found that large majorities opposed raising taxes on the middle class or cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, a comparably large majority of 81% agreed that middle class Americans will have to make sacrifices to address the federal budget deficit, including 83% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents. 

The poll of 1000 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone from October 6 to October 9.  The full results have a margin of error of 3.5%.  The sample of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents has a margin of error of 6%. 

A CBS News Poll conducted between September 28 and October 2 lends credence to the overall numbers found by The Washington Post and Bloomberg News.  The CBS News poll found that 64% of all respondents supported increasing taxes on millionaires in order to lower the budget deficit, including 83% of Democrats, 65% of Independents and 40% of Republicans.