Poll: To Reduce Deficit, Most Americans say Tax the Rich More

From CBS News

As Washington gears up for a fight over federal spending and the national debt, lawmakers may want to consider some new polling figures.

A survey from CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair magazine shows that most Americans, given a set limited choices for balancing the national budget, would prefer to see taxes increased for the wealthy.

As many as 61 percent said they would prefer increasing taxes on the rich over three other options: cutting defense spending, cutting Medicare or cutting Social Security. Another 20 percent chose cutting defense spending as the best option. Just 4 percent said they would cut Medicare, and just 3 percent said they would cut Social Security.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those with higher incomes were less inclined to say increasing taxes on the wealthy would be the best option. Nevertheless, as many as 46 percent of Americans making more than $100,000 said it was the best option — 26 points higher than the next-preferred option, cutting defense spending.

The poll comes as Congress considers a future vote to raise the national debt ceiling. Several Republicans are hoping to use the debt ceiling vote as leverage to pass spending cuts. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless Social Security is reformed. He cited some means of reforming the program that have gained bipartisan support such as raising the retirement age — a move that would cut off Social Security for a segment of the population.

In a CBS News poll released in early December, as many as 73 percent of Americans called the budget deficit a very serious problem. More than half of Americans said at the time that Congress should let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire. However, President Obama cut a deal with Republicans to extend the tax cuts for everyone. The deal, which included other spending measures, won strong bipartisan support, even though it increases the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.