Tax cut not a top priority for most people, poll finds


WASHINGTON -- At a time when Washington is rushing to enact a package of election-year tax relief, most Americans say they would rather use the post-Cold War "peace dividend" to boost domestic spending or reduce the deficit than to finance tax cuts, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

While Americans remain largely pessimistic about the economy, the nationwide poll found little evidence of a mounting grass-roots tax revolt that might pressure Congress to rush through the kind of anti-recession tax cuts advocated by President Bush and key Democrats.

Instead, the poll suggests that many Americans share a deep-seated concern over the nation's chronic, long-term economic problems -- particularly the federal deficit, which is expected to soar to nearly $400 billion this year.

"I don't live on debt, I don't like debt in my life, so I think taxes should stay where they are so we can lower the deficit," said Michael Wheat, a used car dealer in Allegan, Mich., who participated in the survey.

Despite the flurry of tax-cutting activity on Capitol Hill, the Times survey suggests that Washington may have misread the depth of the public's support for a quick effort to lower taxes. For example, when asked which issues should be discussed in this year's presidential race, 33 percent cite the economy generally, 28 percent say unemployment, 21 percent health care, but only 6 percent mention taxes.

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