Poll: Tax Cuts Top Americans' Lame Duck Agenda

Unfortunately, an extension of the current tax rates—even a temporary one—does not seem high Congress's agenda.

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The latest Gallup poll finds that most Americans say "it is important" for Congress to pass legislation that will keep tax rates from increasing after the first of the year during the lame duck session. As Gallup put it, "taxes appear to be Americans' highest priority."

"That could be in part because tax rates would change significantly for 2011 if Congress does not act by the end of this year. The income tax cuts that were a centerpiece of the Bush economic plan are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts to extend them. Most in Congress seem to support at least a temporary extension, though there is disagreement as to whether any extension should apply to upper-income Americans, in addition to middle-income Americans," the polling firm says. [Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.]

The survey, a USA Today/Gallup poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, found 82 percent saying "passing legislation that would keep the estate tax from increasing significantly next year" was either "very important" or "somewhat important." In the same sample, 81 percent said that legislation "extending some form of the federal income tax cuts passed under George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of this year" should also be a priority for Congress.

Unfortunately, an extension of the current tax rates—even a temporary one—does not seem high on the agenda. There's been a lot of talk about the issue but very little action. The White House has been sending mixed signals as to their receptivity of any kind of deal on taxes while the congressional Democratic leadership—especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—seems to have its heels dug in.

In a sense, everyone is following their party line. Republicans in the Gallup survey vastly prefer action to prevent taxes from going up while Democrats are more focused on the need to extend unemployment benefits. "In general, independents' priorities mirror those for all Americans," says Gallup, meaning they think both are important. Unfortunately, raising taxes in the middle of anemic economic growth is a shock to the system the U.S. economy doesn't need.

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