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Most support raising taxes on the wealthiest, poll says

By Alan Fram
Associated Press / September 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON — More than half the Americans surveyed supported raising taxes on the nation’s rich, in a new poll that also showed deep political divisions over the issue as Democrats struggle with President Obama’s call to boost levies on the wealthy.

Less than 50 days from elections that Republicans hope will hand them control of Congress, the Associated Press-GfK Poll is otherwise stuffed with encouraging signs for the GOP. Huge majorities called the economy sickly and said Congress is doing its job badly.

By a 46 percent to 41 percent tally, people wanted Republicans to steer the economy, the first GOP edge on that number one concern of voters polled.

And while respondents were evenly split over whether they preferred their district’s Democratic or GOP congressional candidate, those likeliest to vote tilted toward the Republicans, 53 percent to 43 percent.

“Nothing’s getting done,’’ said Lisa Grimm, 52, an independent from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, who like most in the poll said she is disgusted with Washington politics.

The survey showed that by 54 percent to 44 percent, most people supported raising taxes on the highest earners, an issue that Obama and other top Democrats have thought could define their campaign-season differences with Republicans. Obama has sought to capitalize on that edge, accusing Republicans of holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage to force tax breaks for the wealthy.

“These are the same families who will suffer the most when their taxes go up next year,’’ Obama said of middle-income earners. “We don’t have time for any more games.’’

With the broad tax reductions enacted under President George W. Bush expiring at year’s end, Obama wants to renew the cuts for everyone except individuals earning at least $200,000 annually and couples making $250,000 and up.