The Bush Tax Cuts: Keep Mine, But Not Necessarily Yours

Posted February 8, 2005 at 2:25pm

Every poll I’ve seen thus far this year that asks for a straight up or down vote on making the Bush tax cuts permanent shows that people want to keep their tax cuts. But as usual, Americans would like the rich to forgo theirs. [IMGCAP(1)]

In a mid-January Los Angeles Times poll, participants were told that President Bush has passed income tax cuts “totaling more than one trillion dollars over the last four years.” A majority, 54 percent, wanted to make them permanent, while 35 percent favored allowing them to expire.

In a Jan. 14-18 poll by CBS News and The New York Times, 47 percent said the 2001 tax cuts should be made permanent. Another 40 percent said they should be allowed to expire.

In a Jan. 11-16 Harris Interactive poll asking about items that might be on the new Congress’ agenda, 69 percent told interviewers that they would support “tax reform to make the recent tax cuts a permanent measure.” However, in a separate item, 75 percent said they would support tax reform that enacts higher taxes on wealthy individuals in an effort to bring down the deficit.

The Budget Deficit. In an early January poll by Gallup, CNN and USA Today, only 32 percent approved of Bush’s job handling the federal budget deficit, while 63 percent disapproved. The president’s numbers have been falling since April 2001, when 52 percent approved and 37 percent disapproved.

Bush did a little better in a January ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 39 percent approving and 58 percent disapproving. This represents a slight bump upward since ABC and the Post began tracking this issue in 2003.

In the same poll, 32 percent said Bush and Congress should give the deficit the highest priority. It ranked seventh of 12 issues in terms of a top priority.

Immigration: Moving Ahead on Bush’s Plan? In the mid-January ABC News/Washington Post poll, 20 percent said the country was doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the country — while a whopping 77 percent, including 58 percent who felt strongly about it, said the country was not.

In another question, 61 percent said immigrants who are living and working in the United States should be offered a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. Thirty-six percent said they should be deported.

Cheney’s Influence. Vice President Cheney’s job approval in the Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll is down since April 2001, when 63 percent approved and 21 percent disapproved. In early January 2005, 50 percent approved and 40 percent disapproved.

In a January Pew Research Center poll, 25 percent said the vice president had too much influence on the Bush administration, while 18 percent said he had too little and 44 percent said he had the right amount. In January 2001, those responses were 12 percent, 12 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

More About Religion and the 2004 Election. John Green and his colleagues from the University of Akron have just released the results of their fourth quadrennial national survey of religion and politics. The new survey, a comprehensive portrait of the religious landscape and the 2004 presidential vote, re-interviewed people the team had contacted in the spring.

Green’s findings may dampen the controversy over the role of moral values in the election. When the team asked about the relative importance of issues, 80 percent said foreign policy issues such as the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism were most important to their vote, while 58 percent pointed to economic issues such as taxes and jobs, and 49 percent cited social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Twenty-one percent said their faith was more important to their voting decision than other factors, while 26 percent said it was about as important, 15 percent said it was less important and 38 percent said it was not at all important.

Among other interesting findings: Mainline Protestants, long a reliably Republican group, this time split their votes evenly between Kerry and Bush.

Who Controls Congress? In the mid-January Harris poll, 68 percent correctly identified the Republicans as controlling the House of Representatives (6 percent said the Democrats did and 26 percent were not sure). The results were virtually identical when asked about the Senate: 68 percent said the GOP, 5 percent said the Democrats and 27 percent weren’t sure.

Cellphones on Airplanes. Of frequent or occasional flyers, 68 percent told Gallup, CNN and USA Today interviewers in early January that they wanted to keep the cellphone ban on airplanes, compared to 29 percent who wanted it lifted. Frequent or occasional flyers constituted 53 percent of the sample.

Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow specializing in public opinion and polls at the American Enterprise Institute.