Americans for Tax Fairness has released the results of a new poll on taxes and spending that should define the issues in current negotiations over the federal budget. 

Last month, Congress passed, and the President signed, a deal to end the shutdown, suspend the debt ceiling, and fund the federal government through January 15, 2014. What the bill left undone is a plan to fund the government after January 15. To that end, House and Senate leaders have agreed to meet in a conference committee on the FY 2014 budget, with the goal of reaching agreement on a budget plan for the remainder of the year by December 13. 

The Senate-passed budget protects core safety net programs, proposes new investments to expand early childhood programs and grow the economy, and calls for a balanced package of revenue increases and spending cuts to replace the across-the-board federal budget cuts of the sequester; in contrast, the House-passed budget would end the sequester only for defense programs, while making even deeper cuts to programs that support low-income Americans and giving trillions in tax cuts to millionaires and corporations. 

There’s no guarantee that the conference committee will be able to reach agreement, and no penalty if they don’t — at least for Congress. Without an agreement that raises revenue to end cuts to essential services for women and families — such as Head start, child care assistance, meals on wheels, women’s health care services, and services for survivors of domestic violence — another devastating  round of sequester cuts begins in January. 

The new poll shows that Americans have little desire for an all-cuts approach to deficit reduction. By a 17-point margin (56% to 39%), those surveyed want the next budget agreement to include new tax revenues from the wealthy and corporations, as well as spending cuts. By a 40-point margin (68% to 28%), the public wants Congress to focus on creating jobs, as well as reducing the deficit. By a two-to-one margin (53% to 27%), the public wants to see at least half the cuts replaced with revenue from the wealthy and corporations. And by a staggering 70% to 12%, Americans say sequester relief should be offset by closing tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations rather than reducing spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicare. 

The poll demonstrates overwhelming support for measures that create a fairer tax system. Those surveyed support a proposal to cancel the sequester spending cuts entirely and replace them with new tax revenue from the wealthy and corporations by 16 points (50% to 34%), and they oppose using new revenue to reduce income tax rates. By a margin of 82% to 9%, the public says revenue generated from limiting tax deductions for the wealthy or closing corporate tax loopholes should be used instead for public investments and deficit reduction. 

We agree. Tax fairness is the way out of this budget crisis.