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CONGRESS

Public Wants Payroll Cut Even With Deficit

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Payroll pay-for: Voters want tax cut, but will it drain Social Security coffers?(istock)

A majority of Americans support efforts to extend the payroll-tax cut despite concerns that an extension of the short-term reduction would increase the federal budget deficit. The public, though, is more divided on other economic issues facing Congress before the end of the year, according to a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.

The poll found that voters are seeking middle ground on extending unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs. The country is also split on whether regulations adopted by federal agencies hinder business growth, or if restricting regulations hurts consumers and the environment.

 

The poll is the latest in the Congressional Connection Poll, a series of national surveys that will track the public’s priorities for Congress—and its assessment of Washington’s performance—during most weeks that Congress is in session through 2012.

As the Democratic-controlled Senate and the GOP-led House advance competing plans for extending the payroll-tax reduction, the new poll shows that 58 percent of Americans think Congress should extend the tax cut. Just 32 percent think they should not extend the tax cut.

Respondents were read the following arguments before being asked if Congress should extend the payroll-tax cut: “Supporters say this tax cut gives people more money to spend and helps the economy. Opponents say it increases the federal debt without doing much to help the economy.”

 

Support for extending the payroll-tax cut—despite concerns about the budget deficit—is broad and bipartisan. Democrats favor an extension, 68 percent to 25 percent. Half of Republicans think Congress should extend the payroll-tax reduction, while 39 percent think they should not. Among independents, 57 percent favor an extension, while a third do not.

Across other subgroups, support for an extension of the tax cut is virtually uniform. Fifty-seven percent of voters making less than $50,000 a year favor an extension, compared to 62 percent of those making $50,000 a year or more. Three in five college graduates favor extending the tax cut, compared to 55 percent of those who never attended college.

The poll did not ask about the varying proposals for extending the payroll-tax cut; the debate over those proposals and their differences has bogged down the legislation.

On other issues facing Congress this year—extending unemployment benefits and restricting the federal government’s ability to regulate businesses—consensus is more elusive.

 

Respondents to the poll were told that, unless Congress acts, out-of-work Americans would see the duration of their unemployment insurance reduced from 99 weeks to 26 weeks. Then they were asked whether Congress should “take action to keep unemployment benefits at 99 weeks, limit unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, or set a new limit for unemployment benefits between 26 and 99 weeks.”

 

Last year, Congress provided a temporary reduction in the payroll tax paid by workers on their wages. Unless Congress extends this tax cut soon, it will expire. Supporters say this tax cut gives people more money to spend and helps the economy. Opponents say it increases the federal debt without doing much to help the economy. Do you think Congress should or should NOT extend the payroll tax cut?

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Should extend payroll tax cut
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Should not extend payroll tax cut
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Don't know/Refused

As you may know, the federal government now helps pay for up to 99 weeks of unemployment insurance for people who have lost their jobs. Unless Congress acts to extend these benefits by the end of this year, unemployed people will receive only 26 weeks of benefits. In your opinion, should Congress ...

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Take action to keep unemployment benefits at 99 weeks
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Limit unemployment benefits to 26 weeks
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Set a new limit for unemployment benefits between 26 and 99 weeks
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None/other
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Don't know/Refused

This week, Congress will vote on legislation that would make it more difficult for federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency and Securities and Exchange Commission, to issue new regulations. This legislation calls for more cost-benefit analysis about the impact of new regulations and additional study of their impact on small businesses. In general, which of the following concerns you MORE about this issue ...

« Previous question Show/hide demographic groups

Click to add charts for different demographic groups to compare responses. Hover over charts for details.


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That regulatory officials appointed by President Obama will go too far in imposing unnecessary regulations on business and hurt the economy



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That Congress will go too far in reducing the authority of regulatory agencies and weaken oversight of business on issues like environmental protection and financial fraud



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Neither is a concern


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Don't know/Refused
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Source: United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll (Dec. 1-4).

This article appears in the December 6, 2011 edition of NJ Daily.

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