Barack Obama tried to make the case for tax hikes yesterday as a means to close the budget deficit and reduce debt, but a new poll from the Associated Press shows that new taxes will be a tough sale. Voters prefer spending cuts to tax hikes by a 62/29 margin, a much more significant divide than between those who believe their tax levels to be fair or not:
Not that they’re cheering. Fewer people expect refunds this year than in previous years, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows. But as Monday’s filing deadline approaches, the poll shows that 54 percent believe their tax bills are either somewhat fair or very fair, compared with 46 percent who say they are unfair.
Should taxes be raised to eat into huge federal deficits? Among the public, 62 percent say they favor cutting government services to sop up the red ink. Just 29 percent say raise taxes.
The fairness issue breaks about where one would expect. Liberals and moderates are more likely to think their tax levels are fair than conservatives; same for Democrats and independents as opposed to Republicans. Women were more approving than men, but one result was a little more surprising: whites were more likely to approve of the fairness of taxes than non-whites.
The level of approval on fairness hasn’t changed much over the last four years of polling on the subject, and it’s not difficult to see why. First, tax rates haven’t changed in that period, nor have they changed in any direction since 2003. If they generally moved in any direction, taxpayers may have slid into lower tax brackets in the recession thanks to unemployment or underemployment. Also, income tax rates are relatively low in their history, and most Americans support paying some taxes to the federal government.
Obama asserted that the people like to talk about cuts in services until it’s their services that get cut. This appears to be more of a case of a dawning realization that all services are “our” services in the sense that we’re all footing the bill, and we’re all looking at massive balloon payments in the near future unless we cut soon. Paying a fair level of taxes is one thing, but few people will want to pay the level of tax required to fund the massive entitlement programs on their current trajectory, or even with the ambiguous tweaking that Obama suggested yesterday.
Speaking of taxes, Reason TV came up with a new video to celebrate the upcoming IRS deadline by running through a series of PG-rated new names for the IRS. It’s silly and sophomoric, but it’s also fun. For some reason (heh), it’s not embeddable, but clock over and enjoy.