As Fiscal Cliff Looms, Americans Want To End Tax Cuts for Wealthy

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks at the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. Tribal leaders are concerned about the possibility of deep spending cuts to avoid the "fiscal cliff."Susan Walsh/AP Photo
President Barack Obama speaks at the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the Interior Department in Washington. Native American tribal leaders are concerned that steady progress on their issues might be undermined if Obama and Congress make deep spending cuts to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

Americans favor letting tax cuts expire for the country's top earners, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Support has also declined for cutting government services such as Medicare or Social Security to decrease budget deficits, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Interestingly, less than half the Republicans polled support the idea of continuing the Republican-backed Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

See Also: Obama on Fiscal Cliff: 'Time To Get Back to Work'

Lawmakers are engaged in a battle over how to solve the "fiscal cliff" issue by the end of the year. If nothing is done, a series of tax cuts expire for all Americans and taxes will go up. Republicans favor a continuation of the tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthy. President Obama and Democrats have thrown their support behind continuing the tax cuts for individuals who make $200,000 or less and couples who make $250,000 or less, but they oppose continuing the cuts for wealthier Americans.

Republicans also want to cut more spending than Obama. The poll indicates that Americans are reluctant to cut Social Security, Medicare and defense spending, which may lend some weight to Democrats' arguments against major cuts. However, the poll also found that more Americans favor cutting government services to reduce deficits than raising taxes, a Republican-held view that the GOP may be able to use in their favor as both parties try to reach an agreement on how to avoid "going over the cliff."

Nearly half of those surveyed said tax cuts for people earning more than $250,000 should expire while they should continue for those earning less, while 32 percent said the tax cuts should continue for everyone. Another 13 percent favor letting the tax cuts expire for everyone.

As an analysis of the poll results by AP notes, "The battle is occurring when the public trusts the two parties about equally to handle the deficits. Democrats have a slight edge on handling taxes but enjoy a much bigger preference when it comes to addressing Medicare…"

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that American voters trust the president and Democrats more than Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff by a margin of 53 percent to 36 percent. That poll also shows Obama with a 53-40 percent job approval rating, his highest score in three years.

The poll surveyed 1,002 adults nationwide in both English and Spanish between November 29 and December 3, 2012 by phone. Fourteen percent of those surveyed identified as Hispanic, Latino or Spanish, while 69 percent identified as white or Caucasian.