There is also broad opposition to cuts in military spending to reduce the debt, but at somewhat lower levels (56 percent).
In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent). Only among people with annual incomes greater than $100,000 does less than a majority “strongly support” such tax increases.
Most support budget deal but oppose cuts to major programs
Speaking in Annandale, Va., President Obama says failure to bring federal spending in line with revenues will cause serious damage to the economy.
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An across-the-board tax increase is decidedly less popular, at least when coupled with benefit reductions. A report by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility
, co-chaired by former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, recommended “shared sacrifice.” But in the poll, a slim majority — 53 percent — opposes small tax increases and minor benefit cuts for all as a way to significantly reduce the debt. Strong opposition to that kind of solution outnumbers strong support by 2 to 1.
There is broad support for keeping Medicare structured the way it has been since it was instituted in 1965: as a defined-benefit health insurance program. Just 34 percent of Americans say Medicare should be changed along the lines outlined in the Ryan budget proposal, shifting it away from a defined-benefit plan. Under that proposal, recipients would select from a group of insurance plans providing guaranteed coverage, and the government would provide a payment to the insurer, subsidizing the cost. Advocates say this approach is more sophisticated than a pure voucher plan.
In his speech last week, Obama attacked that idea, saying it could leave some Americans without adequate coverage and would end “Medicare as we know it.”
While the debt issue lingers, most Americans — 59 percent — do approve of the deal stitched together to avoid a government shutdown by cutting billions from this year’s budget.
The telephone poll was conducted April 14 to 17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Polling manager Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.