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Most Agree: Bush’s Tax-Cutting Proposal Favors the Rich

Fifty-six percent told ABC News/Washington Post interviewers in late January and early February that President Bush’s proposals on cutting taxes favored the rich, 10 percent the middle class, 2 percent the poor and 26 percent everyone equally. [IMGCAP(1)]

CBS News asked a broader question in early January and found that 59 percent thought the policies of the administration favored the rich, 11 percent the middle class, 2 percent the poor and 23 percent said they treated all groups the same.

In the Jan. 3-5 Gallup, CNN and USA Today poll, 51 percent thought Bush’s policies favored the rich, 5 percent the middle class and 41 percent said they were generally fair to all groups.

In 1992, when asked about former President George H.W. Bush’s policies, 61 percent said they favored the rich and 27 percent that they were fair to all.

The January NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 31 percent felt the Bush economic plan would benefit all Americans equally and 59 percent felt that it would mostly benefit the wealthy.

It’s hard to know how much these sentiments matter. In the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 51 percent approved of the job the president is doing handling taxes. The Gallup, CNN and USA Today number from early February was 52 percent approve. At this point in Bill Clinton’s presidency, a third approved of the job Clinton was doing on taxes.

Fifty-four percent told CBS News and New York Times interviewers in early February that Bush had the same priorities they did for the country; 39 percent said he did not.

Divisions on Class Warfare? Forty-six percent told Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic polling firm, that Bush always seems to go too far in trying to cut taxes for the wealthy, but 42 percent said those who criticize him for cutting taxes mainly for the wealthy are just engaging in divisive class warfare.

Bush and the Deficit. In the early-February ABC News/Washington Post poll, 47 percent approved of the way the president was handling the deficit, but 46 percent disapproved. Eighteen percent in the Jan. 23-25 Gallup, CNN and USA Today poll said they blamed Bush a great deal for the federal budget deficits, 29 percent gave him a moderate amount of blame, 31 percent not much and 19 percent none at all.

Deficits Versus Stimulating the Economy. Most polls show Americans prefer balancing the budget to cutting taxes. But as the January NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed, changing emphasis can change the results. Sixty-seven percent said stimulating the economy should be a greater priority for the president and Congress this year, while 29 percent said controlling the deficit should be.

In another question, 43 percent said the greater risk was passing large tax cuts and having the federal deficit increase significantly, but 44 percent said it was in not passing tax cuts and the economy not growing.

Hussein in Exile. Sixty-two percent told Gallup, CNN and USA Today interviewers Jan. 23-25 that they would approve of a proposal to allow Saddam Hussein to live the rest of his life in exile and thus avoid prosecution for his actions in Iraq in exchange for his agreeing to step down peacefully, while 35 percent disapproved.

Affirmative Action. A plurality of Democrats (44 percent), 54 percent of independents and 77 percent of Republicans told Los Angeles Times interviewers in late January and early February that they approved of the Bush administration’s decision to oppose the University of Michigan’s racial preference admissions program.

Declining Democratic Identification? Each year, Harris Interactive combines all of its yearly interviews to measure party identification. Looking at the cumulative data by decade shows that Democrats had a 21-point lead over the Republicans in the 1970s, an 11-point lead in the1980s, a 7-point lead in the 1990s and a 5-point lead thus far in this decade. In 2002, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 34 percent to 31 percent.

There has been little change over time in self-described ideology. In the new poll, 35 percent described themselves as conservative, 18 percent as liberal. In 1968, those responses were 37 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Hawks and Doves. In late January, when Fox News and Opinion Dynamics interviewers asked how people generally thought of themselves on military matters, 38 percent called themselves hawks and 31 percent doves. Sixty-seven percent described Bush as a hawk, and 9 percent as a dove.

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