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Swing-State Voters Favor Taxing The Rich To Lower Deficit: Poll


First Posted: 07/06/11 03:42 PM ET Updated: 09/05/11 06:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Republicans may find a resolution to make the rich share more of the pain in debt-reduction "rather pathetic," but new survey data suggest voters in swing states favor the idea -- strongly.

Poll data by the Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling released Wednesday said voters in Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota back hiking taxes on the wealthy -- even for people with incomes as low as $150,000.

The respondents were asked: "In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose raising taxes on those with incomes over $1,000,000 a year?"

Nearly 80 percent of voters in the four states backed the idea.

The new poll comes a day after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) labeled Senate Democrats' efforts to pass a non-binding resolution expressing that sentiment "pathetic."

But the poll, commissioned by a number of liberal groups including MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, aims to support legislation that would not just support tax hikes, but actually enact hikes larger than many Democrats have been willing to back.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) aims to hike tax rates on income over $1 million to 45 percent and set rates as high as 49 percent for income over $1 billion. The top rate is currently at 35 percent. At the end of the Clinton administration, it was 39.6 percent.

Dean Baker, an economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, estimated that such rates would have a huge impact on the deficit in 10 years, while leaving other taxes and rates on the upper middle class on down untouched.

"Instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, lawmakers could pass the Schakowsky millionaire's tax and raise about a trillion dollars," Baker said.

Republicans have insisted repeatedly that the only option for cutting the debt is cutting spending, and have been adamant that raising revenues should not be part of the equation.

"Making the rich pay higher tax rates is both overwhelmingly popular and necessary in these tough economic times," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. "Cutting life-saving programs while saying new tax rates for the rich are off the table is an extreme position, completely out of step with the majority of Americans."

To back their argument, PCCC sent an email blast nationwide asking members to contact their senators and tell them to back Reid's resolution -- and the actual tax-hikes.

"Majority Leader Harry Reid is putting every senator on the record -- he's called for a vote in favor of raising taxes on the rich this week," the email said.

"Can you call your Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, right now and ask them to vote yes?," said the version of the message sent to The Huffington Post.

Both senators have backed a more limited millionaire's tax before. Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered a measure last year to restore the Clinton-era tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, but it failed before President Obama cut a deal with the GOP to leave the Bush-era cuts in place for two more years. Sens. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Schumer are also backers of the Reid resolution.

This story was updated to correct Baker's affiliation.

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