Americans — And Republicans — Would Extend Payroll Tax Cut

December 12, 2011, 6:00 PM UTC

Democrats and Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll agree that the Social Security payroll tax cut should be extended, though they disagree on how to pay for that extension. A majority of the public wants to see the tax cut extended: and even more Republicans do. 

Workers are currently receiving a Social Security payroll tax cut that is scheduled to expire on December 31st. Congress is considering whether to extend, and possibly expand, the payroll tax cut. Would you support or oppose extending the payroll tax cut?
Support extending and
expanding the payroll tax cut
26% 31% 26% 27%
Support extending the current
payroll tax cut
25% 20% 29% 28%
Oppose extending the
payroll tax cut
16% 15% 16% 18%
Not sure 33% 34% 28% 27%

Partisans take positions close to their party’s leaders when it comes to financing the extension. Two out of three of those who want the extension would raise taxes on those with incomes about $1 million, but while nearly all Democrats support this, just 37% of Republicans do. About seven in ten Republicans would cut government jobs and add a 2-year extension of a government worker pay freeze; far fewer Democrats would. 

Members of Congress have proposed various ways of paying for the payroll tax cut. Would you support or oppose the following measures?
(Asked if respondent supports extending payroll tax cut)
 Percent supporting each measure
Raising taxes on those with
more than $1 million
in annual taxable income
67% 90% 37%
Reducing the size of the
federal workforce through attrition
by 10%, or 200,000 jobs
48% 24% 70%
Extending the current two-year
pay freeze on federal workers for
another three years
50% 33% 68%

In principle, just over a quarter of Republicans who support the payroll tax extension would consider raising revenues to finance that. About half of Democrats say the cuts should be funded by a combination that includes some budget cuts, though not necessarily the cuts affecting government workers. 

Photo source: Press Association

Economist/YouGov poll archives can found here.