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Poll: Most Americans Want Tax Cuts for the Rich to Expire

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

While leaders in Washington remain divided over whether to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans, as President Obama has proposed, just over half of Americans think it is a good idea, a new CBS News/ New York Times poll shows.

The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year, and Mr. Obama has strongly urged Congress to extend them for everyone except for Americans making more than $200,000 or households making more than $250,000. Republicans andsome moderate Democrats, by contrast, have called for an extension of all the tax cuts.

Fifty-three percent of Americans agree with Mr. Obama that the tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire, while 38 percent do not, according to the poll, conducted Sept. 10-14.

Two of three Democrats think it is a good idea, and most independents (55 percent) agree. Most Republicans (57 percent) think it is a bad idea.

A small minority of Americans (19 percent) think it is a good idea to let the tax cuts expire for households earning under $250,000 a year - a policy no elected official in Washington is promoting, given the state of the economy.

Meanwhile, one third of Americans believe the Obama administration has raised taxes. Fifty percent think taxes have stayed the same, but only 8 percent think taxes have gone down. In fact, most Americans received a tax break in 2009.

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Read the Complete Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 990 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone September 10-14, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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