By WILL LESTER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 13, 2004; 8:27 PM
WASHINGTON - By almost a 2-1 margin, Americans prefer balancing the nation's budget to cutting taxes, according to an Associated Press poll, even though many believe their overall tax burden has risen despite tax cuts over the past three years.
About six in 10, 61 percent, chose balancing the budget while 36 percent chose tax cuts when they were asked which was more important, according to a poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos Public Affairs.
As the nation's tax deadline of April 15 approaches, people's lukewarm feeling about tax cuts may be influenced by a belief that recent cuts haven't helped them personally.
Half in the poll, 49 percent, said their overall tax burden - including federal, state and local taxes - had gone up over the past three years. That's almost four times the 13 percent in the poll who said their overall taxes had gone down.
"Every time you turn around, there's a new gasoline tax, more property taxes, a library tax - because they don't have enough money," said Tom Artley, a 52-year-old supervisor at a manufacturing plant in Williamsport, Pa. He was referring to increasing financial problems faced by many cities and states.
"I'd like to retire in the next five years," Artley said. "It's scary for people like me who are going to be living on a fixed income."
Even when it comes to federal taxes, most in the public don't feel their taxes have gone down over the past three years. Twenty-five percent in the poll said their federal taxes had gone up during that time, while 43 percent said they had stayed the same.
Both the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation and the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have come to the conclusion that the federal tax burden is easing for the average American family. The Tax Foundation suggests that federal income taxes are lower for Americans than they have been for almost four decades.
The perception of many that they're paying more overall is no surprise to Iris Lav, deputy director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
"Federal tax cuts largely benefit higher income people," Lav said. "In the meantime, people face tax increases on sales, cigarettes, gasoline."
For 73-year-old Bonnie Shoemaker of Fort Morgan, Colo., the choice between tax cuts and balancing the budget is a tough one.
"We all need money to live on," she said. "But I think we ought to concentrate on balancing the budget."
Opinion was mixed on whether the wealthiest Americans should have to give up the tax cuts they've gotten over the past three years. Just over half, 53 percent, said they want the elimination of recent tax cuts for people who earn more than $200,000 a year, while 45 percent said they want those cuts to remain in place.
The presidential campaign has included plenty of debate between President Bush and Democrat John Kerry about taxes and balanced budgets.
More of the poll respondents thought Kerry would raise taxes than believed Bush would, 51 percent to 34 percent. Bush has been pushing cuts since his first campaign for president in 2000.
Some see tax cuts as the best way to improve the economy and - eventually - to balance the budget.
"If I had to choose, I would pick cutting taxes," said Marta Mitzenmacher of Miami, a budget director for a community college. "I think the more money I have in my pocket, the more that circulates in the economy, and that puts more money back into government."
The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults was taken March 19-21 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
If you framed the question.."do you prefer lower taxes or higher spending?" It's my guess the answer would be different.
Please, in CT they asked a question would you support a 1 percentage point (4% to 5%) increase on the income tax for certain individuals. Overwhelmingly the public said yes!!! Then they asked the question would you support a 20% increase to those same individuals and the answer was an overwhelming no! Raising the tax rate from 4 to 5 is a 20% increase yet stupid people can't figure that out. Funny how Democrts seem to fall in that category!
Talk about a loaded question. This poll is severely flawed. I bet a lot of people polled dont understand 1) that a balanced budget means raised taxes/less gov't spending and subsidies and 2) The economic consequence of having a balanced budget during a recessionary period (check out what raising taxes (ie balanced budget) during a recessionary period did to lengthen the great depression.)
Section, I know you hate Bush, but running a balanced budget during the recovery would be economic suicide. Just about every nation in the EU is running a sizable deficit (clsoe to 3% of GDP) yet aren't having the growth in the economy we are. Why? Id say its been because of accomidative fiscal and monetary policies. They are working. You can knock him for a lot of things, but I think he's gotten this one right.
So if 51% of the population wants to start their day by peeing in the cornflakes of the other 49%, that's the idea? Jeez, screw right and wrong, let's just run a poll to decide everything. Further, it's how the question is asked. Ask this and see the response-Do you want more money in your pocket, or do you want the government to waste it?
And we get the government we deserve.Those other taxes don't happen in a vacuum. Interests of all kinds pressure government to get theirs. This country was started by people who got pissed that their unelected government taxed their breakfast beverage, and on that basis sought to throw out the greatest military power in the world at that time to end it.
The idea was "Don't Tread on Me". Now it's "I want MINE." It began as "leave me alone to make my living". And it's morphing into cradle to grave socialism. Jefferson and Franklin both said that a republican form of government could only survive as long as people and their elected representatives fought the temptation to vote themselves the Treasury. We're on the cusp of doing just that. The ungovernable mess that comes after that is going to be even worse.
So if you want to allow the government to do everything for you rather live within the vagaries of market capitalism, don't be surprised when the product sucks. You asked for it.
I've said it a zillion times on this board, but western civilization in the form of personal liberty, representative government and free market economy is humankind's greatest invention and has done more to increase living standards then absolutely ANYTHING else.
Bugg and Lawyers hit the nail right on the head. Again, we see that the platform of the liberals and the Democratic Party is nothing more than, "Your life is horrible but it's not your fault and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it except vote Democrat."
Rocky..it's even worse than that, an increase from 4% to 5% is actually a 25% increase! (1% being a quarter of 4%, not a fifth) An increase from 5% to 6% is a 20% increase, since 1% is a fifth of 5%....
A "rich" person could be taxed at 99%. If their tax is reduced by 1% to 98%, their income has thus DOUBLED due to the tax increase, in that they now keep 2% of their income as opposed to 1%. This is an extremely high tax rate, a small tax cut, yet people could rightly say that the tax cut has "doubled the income of the rich" even though rich people pay higher rates, more absolute dollars, and an overall high proportion of total taxes in this country. (That's an absurd example, but it illustrates how deceptive people can be regarding tax cuts, etc) Meanwhile, a middle-class or poorer fellow could get a larger cut in percentage terms, pay a much lower rate, but the effect on their income is not the same. The bottom line is that some people make more money than others in this system. That fact is inescapable, and most of the people who incite class warfare are "rich!"
Why would the Democrats want to help lower and middle-class people become successful when that would erode their voting base? They WANT to keep you poor and stupid and they take money from all of us in order to buy votes! BOTH parties suck, so at least let me keep my f-ing money!
I sold an investment property this year. I held it for a long time and made a pretty sizeable profit. So there are captial gains involved (I am not replacing the property). I have spent more time then I care to admit doing my taxes this year. The thought of writing a check out for the amount that I owe is not good.
Although I wasn't a huge fan of GWB's tax cuts originally I am pretty happy with them right now. I ran the numbers based on the old percentages and I save quite a bit of money thanks to GWB.
So on a pure 100% personal level, thanks George. The tax cuts hit the spot for me.