'Buffet Rule' Failure Supports Notion that US Tax Code Serves Wealthiest First
Vote in US Senate helps validate widely held belief that wealthiest benefit most from skewed tax code
More than two-thirds of Americans believe the revenue system benefits the wealthy while being unfair to average workers, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
Released today, the morning after a vote in the US Senate failed to attract enough support to pass a rule that would guarantee millionaires and billionaires pay at least as much in taxes as those in the middle class -- the so-called "Buffett Rule" -- the poll revealed that "68% of respondents said the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers, compared with 29% who disagreed with that view."
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CNN/ORC poll: Most Americans say tax system favors wealthy
In the CNN/ORC survey, 68% of respondents said the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers, compared with 29% who disagreed with that view. Overall, 50% said the federal income taxes they paid were about right, with 45% saying their taxes were too high and 3% answering their taxes were too low.
Throughout the 1990s, more than six in 10 Americans generally said their taxes were too high, but after the tax cuts proposed by President George W. Bush went into effect, that number dropped to the high 40s and has stayed in that range since.
Political and generational divisions exist in how Americans view their taxes. Some 53% of Republicans say their income taxes are too high, compared with 41% of Democrats. Among Americans who identify as independents, 44% say they're paying too much in income tax.
Age also matters - the youngest and oldest Americans don't think their taxes are too high, but Americans between 35 and 65 think that way. Among 18-34 year olds, 41% say their taxes are too high, compared with 51% for Americans aged 35-49 and 51% for those aged 50-64.
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Senate Republicans on Monday blocked President Barack Obama's "Buffett Rule" legislation, which would have put a 30-percent minimum tax on millionaires, in a debate that is likely to resonate through the November general election.
Democrats, as expected, failed to garner the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to move to a full debate and vote on the bill aimed at getting more tax revenues out of the wealthy.
Obama and congressional Republicans are squaring off this week over the tax hikes for millionaires and a Republican plan to give new tax cuts for businesses.
"Tonight, Senate Republicans voted to block the Buffett Rule, choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class," Obama said in a statement.
Though scant changes to tax policy are expected ahead of the November 6 election, the skirmishes are giving voters a preview of debates they will hear over the next seven months.
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