According to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, U.S. voters are more likely to embrace tax increases for households making $250,000 or more than cuts to Medicare or other domestic spending. They are also more worried about cuts in entitlement programs than about tax hikes as a part of any deal that policymakers strike to fend off the sequester's $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts at the start of next year.
Just over half of poll respondents (55 percent) said they think that tax rates for families with incomes above $250,000 should increase on Jan. 1 as part of expiring Bush tax cuts, or that wealthier families should see a decrease in their itemized deductions (58 percent). Last year, those figures were 53 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
Economists do not feel it likely the U.S. will go over the fiscal cliff. More than half of professional economic researchers surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics (55 percent) think that the Bush tax cuts will be extended for all income levels, and 77 percent predict that automatic spending cuts will be "greatly reduced" by subsequent legislation.
The public appears willing to embrace a multifaceted approach to deficit reduction that combines tax hikes and spending cuts. Taxing wealthy families is the most popular of potential items to be included in a deficit-reduction deal, but a healthy minority of respondents also believe that the package should strictly limit how much the federal government will spend on Medicaid and Medicare (43 percent), raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 (39 percent), and freeze spending on domestic programs such as education or parks and housing (35 percent).
There is also a clear desire among the public to see opposing parties work together to find a solution. Almost two-thirds of the respondents (63 percent) said negotiators should be willing to accept things they do not like as part of a compromise, while only 26 percent said negotiators should "stand by their principles."
The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, a telephone survey of 1,006 adults, was conducted Oct. 12-14 and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.