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Friday, April 15, 2011 4:15 AM

Survey Shows Americans Want Their Cake and Eat It Too

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Surveys repeatedly show US Americans are very concerned about the deficit. However, Other surveys show that concern goes out the window when asked how they are willing to reduce it.

Please consider the Gallup survey that shows Americans Oppose Eliminating Income Tax Deductions

Americans make it clear they want to keep common federal income tax deductions, regardless of whether the proposed elimination of those deductions is framed as part of a plan to lower the overall income tax rate or as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit. No more than one in three Americans favor eliminating any of the deductions in either scenario.

Would you favor or oppose eliminating each of the following tax deductions as part of a plan to [lower the overall federal income tax rate] [reduce the federal budget deficit]

Half of respondents were asked about eliminating the deductions as part of a plan to lower the overall tax rate and the other half were asked about eliminating the same deductions to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Budget plans that call for lower overall tax rates, such as the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, would essentially require that popular deductions be eliminated, basically trading off one tax break for another. President Obama's commission on deficit reduction last December called for eliminating deductions, including the one for mortgage interest, as part of its plan (ultimately rejected) to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Even though only 43% use the mortgage tax deduction, 61 % oppose eliminating it to lower the income tax rate. Thus, 18% of the people don't want their own taxes lowered even if given the chance. Interestingly, the same group does not their taxes to go up either.

If everyone is happy with the status quo, then why does it seem that everyone is bitching?

The answer is most Democrats want to soak it to the rich, Republicans don't, and a huge chunk of people are going to bitch regardless of what either party wants to do. Many in the latter group don't want to lose their deductions, even though they cannot use them.

Given that Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate, and neither party wants to piss off their constituency, don't expect much other than bitching from both sides will continue unabated.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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