Americans are most likely to say it is important for Congress to pass legislation to keep the estate tax from increasing significantly next year and to extend the income tax cuts passed under George W. Bush before the end of the year. Just under half say it is important for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
The Nov. 19-21Â USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans to rate the importance of six possible actions Congress may take between now and the end of the year, during its “lame duck” session prior to the new Congress’ taking office at the beginning of 2011.
Of these, taxes appear to be Americans’ highest priority. That could be in part because tax rates would change significantly for 2011 if Congress does not act by the end of this year. The income tax cuts that were a centerpiece of the Bush economic plan are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts to extend them. Most in Congress seem to support at least a temporary extension, though there is disagreement as to whether any extension should apply to upper-income Americans, in addition to middle-income Americans.
Americans appear eager for Congress to take action on tax issues and unemployment benefits before the end of the year. This lame-duck session for Congress promises to be eventful regardless of how the pressing issues it must address are ultimately decided. Until the end of the year, the Democratic Party will maintain large majorities in both houses of Congress, although the results of the midterm elections may give Democratic members pause as to how they choose to address some of these issues. There does appear to be consensus among both parties in Congress to extend unemployment benefits and to extend the income tax cuts, though currently not enough agreement on the details of how to accomplish these.