WASHINGTON — Americans don't approve of keeping the breaks for upper-income taxpayers that are part of the deal President Obama brokered with congressional Republicans, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.
The survey, conducted before, during and after the tax negotiations, shows that only a third support keeping the lower rates for the highest earners, and less than half of those respondents say the breaks for the wealthy should last for a shorter period than cuts for the middle class. Overall, two-thirds of those polled favor a permanent extension of the lower rates for the middle class.
More than a fourth say all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire Dec. 31, as scheduled.
The agreement Obama announced Monday would temporarily sustain the tax cuts for all income levels. The president said the compromise was needed to break a deadlock with congressional Republicans who vowed to block tax cuts for middle-income Americans if those for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 weren't extended, too.
"I'm as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I've been for years," Obama told reporters Tuesday. "In the long run, we simply can't afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them."
Still, many of the respondents in the poll conducted Dec. 4-7 said they wouldn't support the compromise.
Poll respondent Vicky Vasconi Hale, 51, of San Jose, Calif., says she disagrees with the president because the agreement will widen the gap between the rich and poor.
"We used to have three income levels: poverty or lower income, middle class and high income," says Vasconi Hale, a Democrat who ran a clothing business and is now unemployed. "The middle class is gone."
Obama on Tuesday described the agreement as a "good deal for the American people." In exchange for the concession on the tax break for high earners, Republicans said they would lift their opposition to a 13-month extension of federal unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless.