Poll on fiscal cliff: Voters reject all options
WASHINGTON — Americans clearly want Washington to solve its looming budget crisis, and they clearly reject almost every option to do that, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
The only option that voters endorse, by a ratio of 3-to-2, is to raise taxes on the wealthy.
A majority oppose other often-discussed options, including raising taxes on everyone, cutting Medicaid or Medicare spending, raising the age for Medicare, or taking away tax deductions for charitable contributions or home mortgage interest.
The survey helps explain why it's so difficult for Washington to solve a problem everyone sees and everyone wants fixed.
President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met secretly Sunday but there is still no sign that they're moving toward a deal that could win support from both the Democrats who oppose any cuts in government spending or benefits and from the Republicans who oppose all tax increases.
"No one is very enamored of an thing," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the national survey of registered voted Dec. 4-6 for McClatchy Newspapers.
Voters do see the fiscal mess of expiring tax cuts and looming spending cuts as a crisis that needs to be solved.
By 78 percent to 22 percent, they say they're concerned about it, and by 75 percent to 21 percent, they say it's more important for government officials to compromise to find a solution rather than standing on principle even if it means continued gridlock.
"They think a deal needs to be struck and they think it matters," Miringoff said.
The one thing that voters support is letting the Bush tax cuts expire as scheduled on Dec. 31 — and thus raising taxes — for individual income above $200,000 and family income above $250,000.
Voters support that 57 percent to 40 percent.
Despite the solid majority in favor, the proposal backed by Obama is the most divisive, with Democrats supporting it 75 percent to 20 percent, and Republicans opposing it 68 percent to 30 percent.
If a majority of voters want to raise taxes on higher incomes, they do not want to raise taxes on everyone.
By 74 percent to 20 percent, they oppose letting the Bush tax cuts expire — and therefore raising taxes — on all income levels.
And by 50 percent to 33 percent, they oppose letting the Obama cut in the payroll tax expire as scheduled at the end of the month. The tax finances Social Security.