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Most Americans Favor Keeping All Bush Tax Cuts for Now

Wednesday, 11 Aug 2010 | 6:31 PM ET

Most Americans would go along with temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, including the wealthy, until the economy recovers, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey has found.

That finding represents encouraging news for Republicans as they prepare for a fall battle over tax cuts in advance of mid-term elections.

The Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress have proposed extending the Bush tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year, but eliminating the cuts for higher earners as a means of reducing the budget deficit.

The poll shows Americans with mixed feelings on the issue when offered a series of options.

Nearly half say they could accept a permanent extension of all the tax cuts; at the same time, two-thirds say they could accept the Obama administration’s proposal.

But the highest proportion, 71%, called it an acceptable outcome for all the cuts to be extended until the economy strengthens.

More encouraging news for Republicans comes in the poll finding that Americans give an edge to Republicans over Democrats on handling the economy, the budget deficit, taxes, and immigration.

Democrats are favored on energy, health care, the environment, and providing oversight on Wall Street.

Indeed, among the poll’s positive findings for Democrats concern the administration’s handling of relations with business interests.

Though some corporate leaders have complained that the Obama White House has been unduly hostile, most Americans disagree.

A plurality of Americans, 48%, called Obama’s attitude toward business “about right”; another 14% characterized the Democratic president as “too pro-business.” Just 29% called Obama “too anti-business.”

Overall, the poll showed a continued sour mood among voters toward the direction of the country (58% called the nation “on the wrong track”), the state of the economy (64% predicted the economy hasn’t hit bottom yet and will continue to decline), and the performance of Congress (72% disapprove).

All those point toward substantial gains for the Republican minority in November.

Yet the survey showed a slight uptick in ratings for Obama and Democratic Congressional candidates since the previous NBC/WSJ poll in June.

The president’s job approval rating inched up to 47% from 45%, though the increase fell within the poll’s 3.1 percentage point margin for error. That small improvement was repeated when respondents were asked which party they want to control Congress.

Democrats held a one percentage point advantage on the question, compared to a two percentage point lead for Republicans in June.

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