As the Senate gears up for a key vote on the package to extend tax cuts, polls released Monday showed that the American people, regardless of political party or persuasion, strongly favored the agreement hammered out by the Obama administration and Republicans.
According to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 60% of those questioned said they favored the agreement, which has been attacked by House liberals and Senate conservatives. About 22% said they disapproved. Political support is about even, with 63% of Democrats saying they back it, as do 62% of Republicans and 60% of independents.
About seven in 10 Americans questioned in a Washington Post- ABC News poll said they backed the agreement, but only about 11% said they supported all four of the key elements of the deal: the extension of the tax cuts for the rich, added unemployment benefits for 13 months, a cut in the payroll tax and a new estate-tax scheme. Only 38% of those questioned supported two of the planks, according to the poll.
The Senate is expected to take a key test vote Monday on the agreement, with final approval coming in that chamber early this week. The House is hoping to vote on the package after the Senate. Both houses are trying to finish up the lame-duck session this week.
The tax-cut-extension plan is probably the most immediate concern for both chambers. Without action, the tax cuts will expire at the end of the month.
The Obama administration negotiated an agreement with Republicans to extend the tax cuts, including for those earning more than $250,000 a year. Democrats, including Obama, have opposed extending the tax cuts for the rich for years, though they pushed for extending the cuts for the middle class.
House liberals and Senate conservatives also oppose the agreement on the estate tax. Democrats argue that it is too generous to the wealthy, but Republicans say there should be no inheritance tax on estates, regardless of their size.
The Pew poll, conducted Dec. 9-12 among 1,011 adults, found that more Americans said the agreement would help rather than hurt the U.S. economy. About 48% said the agreement would help the economy, and 29% said they thought it would hurt. By 46% to 26%, respondents said the agreement, with its extension on unemployment benefits, would hurt the federal budget deficit.
The whole package will cost about $900 billion over two years, money that will be borrowed.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike favored the agreement despite the patchwork support of individual elements. About twice as many, 36% to 17%, see the deal as making things better than see it hurting the economy, but just 9% think it will improve things a “great deal.” Nearly half say the tax cuts won't make much of a difference or express no opinion on the question, the poll found.