A recent New York Times/CBS News telephone poll on the deficit and taxes indicates that when it comes to dealing with the federal deficit, America's feelings are as mixed -- and as politically partisan -- as those of folks on Capitol Hill who will have to make the country's ultimate fiscal decisions.
In general, though, we appear to agree with the philosophy of the late U.S. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana: "Don't tax him. Don't tax me. Tax that man behind the tree!"
That is, we want the deficit to be cut, but we aren't so keen on being the ones who personally have to do anything taxwise to accomplish that.
Take, for example, the question on whether American companies pay "their fair share" in federal income taxes. Most poll respondents (56 percent) said companies pay less than their share.
Still, those surveyed said that if they had to choose between raising corporate taxes or cutting government spending in order to reduce the deficit, they'd rather cut spending.
This answer indicates to me that too many folks don't realize that some of that cutting is going to affect programs and services they like or depend upon, but that's for another blog post. For now, back to the poll.
When asked whether they would prefer raising individual taxes on households making $250,000 or more or increasing corporate tax rates, the businesses lose.
A further query into corporate tax attitudes showed that most poll respondents believe all companies should pay about the same income tax rate.
But among the third of those who thought tax rate accommodations should be made by the type of business, most thought "small businesses" should be given a lower tax rate.
That's it, just the general category of small businesses, which leads me to believe, true to Mr. Long's "leave me alone" belief, that these respondents operated or worked for small companies.
The gregarious Louisiana lawmaker uttered his famous "tax the other guy" quip to make a point. But I think lately, it's lost on too many of us.
There is no nameless, faceless guy behind a tree who can bear the burden of getting America's fiscal house in order.
We all have to take a hit. But it needs to be, as the poll phrased it, a fair share contribution from each of us, both when it comes to program cuts and tax increases.
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