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Fox News Poll: Majority Approves Tax Cut Agreement

A majority of American voters approve of the proposed deal to preserve Bush-era tax cuts agreed on between President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress, and voters are more likely to think the compromises made by both sides represent how things “should” work in Washington.

A Fox News poll released Thursday found that by 68 to 26 percent, most voters approve of the compromise deal.

Moreover, approval is across the board: 69 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents endorsed the deal.

When asked what they would do if forced to choose between either continuing the tax cuts for all Americans or letting taxes increase for all Americans, 73 percent of voters said they would continue the tax cuts for all. That includes 83 percent of Republicans, 73 percent independents and 64 percent of Democrats.

Among other things, the agreement between Obama and Republicans allows the Bush-era tax cuts to continue for all Americans for two more years and also extends unemployment benefits. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the package on Wednesday. The House is scheduled to vote Thursday afternoon.

Obama received criticism, including by many in his own party, for “caving” on extending the tax cuts to the wealthy. Yet overall, voters generally backed the president’s position. About one third -- 32 percent -- thinks Obama “compromised too much on tax cuts,” while 50 percent say his agreement with Republicans is the way things “should” work in Washington.

The results are more mixed on the other side. Thirty-seven percent of voters think Republican leaders “compromised too much on spending,” while 41 percent say their deal with the president is how things “should” work.

Both Democrat and Republican voters have similar feelings about how their side handled the negotiation: 43 percent of Democrats think President Obama compromised “too much.” That compares to 44 percent of Republicans who said the same of their party leaders.

Overall, more people think President Obama (44 percent) has a clear plan for the country than think Republicans in Congress do (28 percent). Still, majorities don’t think the president (52 percent) or Republicans (63 percent) have a clear plan.

By more than two-to-one, the poll found voters think continuing the tax cuts is more likely to help (42 percent) than hurt (18 percent) the economy. Thirty-six percent say it won’t make a difference.

Views are much more mixed on extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed: 35 percent think they will help the economy and 40 percent think they will hurt. Another 21 percent say extending the benefits won’t make a difference to the economy.

Meanwhile, by a wide 18 percentage-point spread, more voters think giving unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed discourages them from trying to find work.

The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 randomly chosen registered voters from December 15 to December 16. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the total sample.

Most Now Say Obama Not Keeping Promises

Even while voters favored the tax-cut compromise, a 59 percent majority thinks President Obama is “drifting off course” from the promises he made during the presidential campaign. Some 28 percent think he is keeping his promises.

This is a reversal of earlier opinion. In April 2009, when Obama had been in office for about 100 days, 57 percent said he was keeping his promises and 27 percent said drifting off course.

Among Democrats, 48 percent think the president is keeping his promises, compared to 82 percent who felt that way in 2009.

Among independents the difference over time is much sharper: 25 percent think the president is keeping his promises now and 58 percent disagree. In 2009, 50 percent said he was keeping his promises and 28 percent said he was drifting off course.

Other highlights from the poll:

-- Overall, saving for retirement (35 percent) and paying bills (34 percent) are the biggest financial worries voters say they face right now. For 11 percent the top concern is keeping their job, while 9 percent said “all” were equally worrisome.

There are clear differences among groups on their concerns. For those living in households with an annual income of less than $50,000, the biggest worry is paying bills. For higher income households, it’s saving for retirement. Young people as well as seniors are more likely to put paying bills as the top worry, while for those aged 30-64 the key issue is saving for retirement.

-- Just how to do that saving is also a matter of widespread opinion. When asked the best place to invest $10,000, more say just put it in the bank (34 percent) rather than put the money in stocks (20 percent) or gold (14 percent). And about 16 percent think the best place is right under the mattress.

Click here to view the raw data