Republicans are determined to get their tax legislation signed, sealed, and delivered to President Trump’s desk next week, and yet according to a new VICE News/SurveyMonkey online poll, 56 percent of Americans oppose the tax reform proposals.
Passing the tax bill would give the administration and the Republican-controlled Congress its first big legislative achievement of the year. “A lot of jobs and a lot of money will be created,” President Trump said in a speech at the White House Wednesday.
If Congress can meet a Christmas deadline to pass a bill, the president said, “Americans will see lower taxes and bigger paychecks beginning in February.”
Yet the survey, conducted online during the first week in December, shows how deeply unpopular the plan is among Americans. Of the 2,524 adults in the survey, just 22 percent believe it will actually lower their taxes, while 35 percent said they thought their taxes would stay about the same.
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The respondents were taken from a pool of 3 million people who take SurveyMonkey surveys and is weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using Census data.
Republicans were only slightly more likely to believe the tax plan would save them money: 36 percent thought they’d pay less in taxes, while 45 percent felt their taxes would be about the same.
Despite that, Republicans overwhelmingly support the overall tax plan, with 82 percent in favor. So Republicans on Capitol Hill and President Trump have the base’s support. By contrast, only 10 percent of Democrats support the bill, showing a deep partisan divide over the proposal.
In his speech Wednesday, the president made his closing argument to the Congress, which is reconciling two versions of the bill, and the American people. “We didn’t become great through massive taxation and regulation,” he said. “This is for the people of middle income and for companies that will create jobs. This is for the people of America.”
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The president spoke at the same time when the tax reform conference committee was meeting for the first time to publicly discuss how they'd reconcile the House and Senate versions of the tax reform bill. But that meeting was just for the cameras, because House and Senate Republicans had already made a tentative deal on how to proceed before the show got started.
A Republican source familiar with the negotiations confirmed the deal and that the corporate tax rate would be lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent instead of 20 percent, as was called for in both versions of the reform package, and it will kick in next year.
The corporate alternative minimum tax will be fully repealed, something that big companies will like a lot. Also, the top rate for individual income taxes will be lowered to 37 percent from its current rate of 39.6 percent, which gives Democrats a nice talking point about lowering taxes for the rich.
The VICE News/SurveyMonkey poll and others suggest that this legislation is the least popular tax cut in decades. No poll can quite explain why so many Republicans support the tax proposal, while also believing it won’t help them that much, but the answer may lie in the individual components of the bill.
Republicans like many of the major provisions, such as repealing the mandate to buy health insurance and lowering the corporate tax rate. The change they thought would hurt their families the most was the possible elimination of the state and local tax deduction. The deal made between House and Senate republicans modifies that deduction, making it less valuable, but doesn’t eliminate it altogether.
And when it comes to the increase in the deficit that the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has reported this package will have, the Republican spin seems to be working. Nearly half (48 percent) of Republicans believe the tax cuts will actually reduce the deficit as businesses reinvest capital, and another 27 percent think it will have no impact on the deficit.
And that, in itself, is a win for the GOP.
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