Polls: Voters support raising taxes, say jobs more important than debt

A series of polls conducted in recent days could give new ammunition to the Obama administration as it negotiates the “fiscal cliff,” with Americans indicating they generally support raising taxes and are focused more on economic stability and job growth than immediately balancing the budget.

According to a poll released Friday by Rasmussen, 57 percent of voters say they agree with the president’s proposal to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed say they oppose that move.

Meanwhile, a new poll of New Hampshire by Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling showed that nearly half of all voters there — 49 percent — say President Obama’s mandate following his reelection is to focus on jobs. That’s compared to only 22 percent of voters who say the president’s mandate involved reducing the debt.

{mosads}In the same survey, only 36 percent of respondents said that the president was tasked with striking a compromise with congressional Republicans. Voters were more likely to say that the president’s mandate was to stand up for middle-class families, even if that meant a confrontation over the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts.

“The mandate of 2012 was clear. Tax the rich, use that money to invest in jobs, and do not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for regular people,” said Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green in a statement. “Americans want President Obama to fight for them if the Republicans stand in the way, not settle for a bad compromise.”

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans would be open to additional revenue from the wealthiest taxpayers — but only in exchange for entitlement reforms.

“I can say on the part of my members that we fully understand that you can’t save the country until you have entitlement programs that fit the demographics of the changing America and the coming years and we’re prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem, even though most of my members I think without exception believe we’re in the dilemma we’re in not because we tax too little but because we spend too much,” McConnell said after a meeting at the White House with the president and other top congressional leaders.

The prospect of that fight also has Americans concerned that the country could plunge over the fiscal cliff. More than half — 51 percent — of respondents to a Pew survey released last week say they do not think the two sides will be able to come to an agreement.

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