Polls show mixed reaction to tax cut proposal

About 27 percent say all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire as scheduled on Dec. 31.

When asked about deficit reduction and the tax cuts, about 60 percent support raising rates on those in the higher-income brackets, according to the Bloomberg poll.  

When asked to choose an income level for the tax cuts to expire, about 20 percent said taxes should be raised only on those earning $1 million or more. About 28 percent chose the $500,000 threshold, while 43 percent selected $250,000, the current level as which taxes would have increased if an extension wasn't put into place, the Bloomberg survey showed. 

The Gallup poll was conducted before President Obama announced a final agreement on extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts along with providing for the extension of unemployment benefits through the end of 2011, although a deal was in the works. 

The breakdown among the parties is in line with where lawmakers have carved out their battleground. The poll shows that 85 percent of Republicans support the tax-cut extension while 43 percent back a continuation of unemployment benefits. 

Congressional Republicans say they want to pay for the 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, while Democrats have argued for using emergency spending because offsetting the cost reduces the stimulative effect of the benefits. 

Independents were more equally supportive of both issues, with 67 percent supporting the tax cuts and 71 percent the jobless benefits. 

For Democrats, the answers are about opposite of Republican responses, with 52 percent expressing support for extending the tax cuts and 84 percent backing the extension of unemployment benefits.

The results are slightly different from a November poll that provided three options — that poll found 40 percent in favor of extending the tax cuts for all Americans, 44 percent in favor of extending them with limits on tax breaks for the wealthy, and 13 percent in favor of letting all the tax breaks expire. 

When looking more specifically at the different ideological wings of each party, only a majority of liberal Democrats oppose extending the tax breaks for everyone, with 39 percent in favor and 55 percent opposed. Within that same group, 82 percent favor extending unemployment benefits. 

Among the other groups, support for tax cuts ranges from 64 percent of conservative/moderate Democrats to 87 percent of conservative Republicans. Only 38 percent of conservative Republicans support an extension of jobless benefits.