StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

Updated Tax Polls

19 Sep 2011
Posted by Bruce Bartlett

I have previously posted a table showing that people support raising taxes as part of deficit reduction by a 2-to-1 margin over the Grover Norquist/Club for Growth/Tea Party position that the deficit must be reduced only by spending cuts without a penny of higher taxes. In light of President Obama's new budget plan, which includes higher taxes, I am posting an updated table, including a poll on Friday showing that three-fourths of people support higher taxes and only 21 percent support the doctrinaire right-wing position.

Can/Should the Budget Deficit Be Reduced with Spending Cuts Alone or Should There Be Some Increase in Taxes?
Some/All Taxes
No Taxes/
All Spending

payroll tax

Hey Bruce, I saw what you posted at the Fiscal Times. It says that the majority favors abolishing the payroll tax cap. But one thing you and I agree on is that abolishing the payroll tax cap might either make it into a welfare program, or make private accounts seem more attractive. Would the poll you cited prove our side of the argument wrong? If you don't think so, could you explain why?


Interesting. But I fear that

Interesting. But I fear that the response is really just an indication of support for raising the taxes on somebody other than me. With almost half the population facing no federal individual income tax, there has to be a fair amount of that almost by definition.

No need to be frightened,

No need to be frightened, @JLM - it'll be all right.

Most people want to tax the rich because that's where the money is.

And, oh boy, do the rich gotta a lot of dough!

The non-rich might not know the exact figures but they have a very good idea of the wealth of the wealthy.

As Bruce Bartlett says, "the top 1 percent of the income distribution made 54 percent more than the entire bottom half of the income distribution combined."

A pretty awesome amount - almost (but not quite) fear inducing, eh?

No need for fear-induced blaming of the tax-exempt. They pay a lot of taxes - sales taxes, utility taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, etc.


Poll after poll after poll shows that the public wants to do the right thing on this or that issue. Then they go and vote in representatives whose campaign platform is all about doing the wrong thing. Wake me up when someone can explain this phenomenon. Until then, another poll demonstrating the reasonableness of public opinion is just yawn-worthy.

I'm sorry JLM, but that

I'm sorry JLM, but that statistic about half the population not paying Federal Income Tax is one of the most misleading statistics there is. It's only because we don't call the Payroll tax, Federal Income Tax that the statistic is true at all, and that's semantics. It's money you pay to the Federal Government out of your paycheck, that's a tax. (So is the Gas Tax and various other excise taxes) I realize that money is supposed to go to Social Security and Medicare not the general fund (although it does in the case of the Social Security Trust fund money) but also without those two programs there is no major Federal Debt so it's really just one big pool of money in and money out. It's also technically true that the "employer" pays half the Payroll tax, but as an employer of several people I would be happy to increase their salaries by 7.65% if they got rid of the Payroll tax so let's face it, it's a tax on the worker. So there you go almost everybody who works and makes under $100,000 a year no matter what deductions etc. they have pays 15.3% Federal Tax on every dollar they earn. While someone who makes $1 Million in Capital Gains pays only 15%. The exception to this is obviously the Earned Income Tax Credit people, but even they don't get back all their Payroll tax money so they pay something in, and it is claimed by only about 10% of taxpayers (plus it only costs about $40 billion a year which is a pittance in our budget) So why raise taxes on the wealth - for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks, that's where the money is.


offsets all of the income tax and the payroll tax for about a quarter of tax filers. 

Thanks for wading in with a

Thanks for wading in with a real number. But be careful, Bruce. If you go around using the facts, people will realize that you are some sort of communist.

FICA Taxes should not be included in federal tax burden

I think Mr. Bartlett made the case that the FICA taxes are not really taxes in a column in the NY Times a few weeks ago. Basically, since people receive more in SS and Medicare benefits than they contribute, we can look at FICA as a forced retirement savings.

Mr. Bartlett wrote:
" Another issue is whether the Social Security tax is really a tax at all. A case can be made that it is really part of a worker’s compensation, rather than a reduction of it – because the workers generally get back all of their contributions, plus more, in the form of Social Security benefits in retirement.

Although counterintuitive, economic research supports this view of the Social Security tax. In a 1999 paper for the World Bank, Peter Orszag and Joseph Stiglitz argued that Social Security was essentially a forced savings program that doesn’t necessarily reduce labor supply at all. In a 2004 article, Richard Disney supported this argument:

To the extent that pension contributions are perceived as giving individuals rights to future pensions, the behavioral reaction of program participants to contributions will differ from their reactions to other taxes. In fact, they might regard pension contributions as providing an opportunity for retirement saving, in which case contributions should not be deducted from household’s earnings and should not be included in the tax wedge.

To the extent that workers perceive a linkage between the Social Security taxes they pay and the benefits they receive, the Social Security system reinforces work incentives rather than being a tax on work, as is commonly believed. If this is true, then workers may well view a cut in Social Security taxes as diminishing their future benefits, which may cause them to increase their saving rather than spend the additional cash flow."

Can't have it both ways then

I agree with you on this but that then blows away the argument that FICA should be levied on all earned income, not just the first $100k...if this were the case the "investor" would never get near what was invested. Private accounts is the only way the "Retirement" argument works, but the Feds will never give up the cheap source of deficit funding.

Baracketeers, Take A Hike!

The $WELL$' TAXE$ are Too DEM LOW!

Reducing the deficit

Reduced money growth cannot increase economic growth. Those who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty ( ) do not understand economics.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Updated tax polls

This is like asking if groceries at the local market should be free! The vast majority will say yes because they are not impacted. Only the grocer and his employees will say no.

A better question to ask is would you be willing to pay more income taxes to balance the budget? My suspicion is the results would be much different.

I'm for increasing taxes ON EVERYONE

Just so you know, I do pay taxes but I think we should let the 2001 tax rates expire and go back to the previous rates. They still weren't that exhobitant and we were running a surplus. We are paying for TWO WARS and cutting taxes - how absurd. Yes, we need to look at spending cuts but we also need to look at the revenue side of the deal - taxes on everyone.

The Joys of Democracy

Ah, the beauty of democracy- if a majority of people feel they are entitled to my wealth and the results of my labor, I become a slave to the state and work to support others. If a majority of people feel that I should work in the farm and then give them most of my crops, especially if I am a successful farmer, then I guess I must bow the the majority before they gather and make me, eh?

Sadly, our founding fathers designed a limited government based on natural rights and protection of minorities that doesn't allow for the majority to somehow determine that they have some sort of claim on the wealth of others just because they have it and others want it.

Actually, our Founding

Actually, our Founding Fathers designed a poweful federal government with broad powers, including the power to levy taxes and spend tax revenue for the general welfare. You appear to support a Nozick-style libertarian form of government. That is certainly a legitimate philosophical view, but it is not the country we live in.

Hope you are not really a teacher!

If you are a teacher, heaven help the students since you are oblivious to the political thought underpinning of the US Rebellion aka Revolution.

You are doing the 'I've got mine and to h*e*l*l with everyone else' greed thing - very un-Judeo-CHristian-Mulsim-Buddist-Hindu.

You are also clueless about the factors that allow people to accumulate wealth in the US - wealth they would never have if they had been born in ,say the Sudan, no matter how smart they are.

If you drive on the roads, if you went to public shcools, if you benefit from medical technology (research largely funded by the US government), if you breath clean air, if you beenfit from having police and fire services, if you have employees or co-workers who are literate ---- you have BENEFITED from the ways in which taxes have been spent. It gave ayou a stable society in which to work and succeed. Try doing that in Dafur or other places that lack such things.

And as far as government and taxes go and that the wealthier should pay more, I'll simply quoted by late umpty-times removed cousin - one of the 'Founder' the right is found of ranting on about. The "Founders' were wary of and distrusted the aristocracy of inherited wealth and privilge.

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise."

Thomas Jefferson writing to James Madison in 1785

Wasn't Jefferson just

Wasn't Jefferson just recently scrubbed from the Texas public school history books?

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