WASHINGTON — Most respondents in a new poll like President Barack Obama's proposal to make millionaires pay a significant share of their incomes in taxes. Yet they'd still rather cut spending than boost taxes to balance the federal budget, the Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
The survey suggests that while Obama's election-year tax plan targeting people making at least $1 million a year has won broad support, it has done little to shift people's basic views in the long-running partisan war over how best to tame budget deficits that lately have exceeded $1 trillion annually.
"Everybody should be called to sacrifice. They should be in the pot with the rest of us," Mike Whittles, 62, a Republican and retired police officer from Point Pleasant, N.J., said of his support for Obama's tax proposal for the wealthy. But Whittles said he still prefers cutting government spending over raising taxes because of federal waste and what he calls "too many rules, too many regulations."
Sixty-five percent of the people in the AP-GfK poll favor Obama's plan to require people making $1 million or more to pay taxes equal to at least 30 percent of their income. Just 26 percent opposed Obama's idea.
Yet by 56 percent to 31 percent, more embraced cuts in government services than higher taxes as the best medicine for the budget, according to the survey, which was conducted Feb. 16 to 20. That response has changed only modestly since it was first asked in the AP-GfK poll last March. The question about Obama's tax on the rich was not asked previously.
Views of each party
The poll showed that overall, more people have a positive view of Democrats than Republicans, a ray of hope for Democrats with the approach of November's presidential and congressional elections. Fifty-four percent in the poll gave Democrats favorable ratings compared to 46 percent for Republicans, similar to results in January 2011, at the start of the newly elected Congress in which Republicans have run the House and Democrats wield a slender Senate majority.
Though embraced by congressional Democrats, Obama's proposal on taxing millionaires more has virtually no chance of passage by Congress in the political heat of this year's campaigns. But it stands as a rallying cry for Democrats - about 9 in 10 of whom supported the plan in the poll.
The AP-GfK poll was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and involved cell phone and landline interviews with 1,000 randomly chosen adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.