Poll after poll shows that few support the Republican tax-cut plan. But when pollsters bother to ask about specifics in the bill, support skyrockets. Guess which results make the headlines?
In an article noting the sharp rise in optimism under President Trump, CNBC says that Trump's poll numbers are nevertheless low, and speculates that what could be hurting his popularity "is his signature tax plan, which is widely unpopular."
It's been a constant refrain about the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax-cut plan. It's "widely unpopular" or "wildly unpopular" or "horribly unpopular," depending on which news outlet you read.
Polling analyst site FiveThirtyEight says the tax plan is "historically unpopular," noting that it gets an average of just 33% support in nine surveys taken in December, with 52% saying they oppose it.
Most of the surveys, however, only ask people broad questions about the tax cuts: Do they support the plan overall? Do they think they'll get a tax cut? Will they boost economic growth?
Given the overwhelmingly negative coverage about the GOP bill, and the uniform opposition from Democrats — a break from past tax cuts when at least a handful of Democrats jumped on board — it's hardly surprising that the public thinks the tax cuts are a bad deal.
But it's likely that few of them know what's actually in the bill or what it will do.
For example, a December Quinnipiac poll found that just 20% say the GOP plan will cut their taxes, while 41% think it will increase them. Others have shown similar results.
The truth is that the vast majority of taxpayers will get tax cuts, and some will get tax cuts even if they don't owe any taxes, thanks to the expanded and refundable child tax credit. Even the liberal-leaning Tax Policy Center found that 75% of taxpayers will see taxes go down in 2019 as a result of the bill.
What's more, when people are asked about key provisions in the tax bill, support rises across the board.
The IBD/TIPP poll is one of the few that has bothered to ask such questions. The results from the November survey:
- 57% support lowering corporate rate from 35% to 20%.
- 55% support reducing the number of tax brackets.
- 83% support cutting the pass-through tax rate for small businesses to 25%.
- 66% support doubling the standard deduction.
Other polls produced similar findings. CNN found that 55% support increasing the standard deduction, 79% back the boost in the child tax credit, and a plurality support the mortgage deduction limit.
In one of its polls, Quinnipiac asked about a couple of provisions in the bills. It found that 48% support eliminating the estate tax, while 43% opposed it.
The Economist/YouGov poll in November asked about specifics, but limited all their questions to provisions that eliminated various deductions, without explaining that these are in exchange for the near doubling of the standard deduction. Even with that bias in mind, many of the provisions the poll asked about got plurality support.
One of the more telling polls was the one by Morning Consult/Politico. It found that only 37% back the GOP bill. But then it asked about specifics and found that: 60% back cutting the small-business tax rate; 61% back doubling the standard deduction; 61% back increasing the per-child tax credit; and other features like the mortgage interest deduction limit, the estate tax cuts, and reducing income brackets got plurality support.
In fact, after describing these specific provisions in the bill, the Morning Consult poll found that overall net support increased from +1 to +5.
So, support for the GOP tax plan goes up when people are better informed about its specifics. No wonder Democrats and the press would rather spend most of the time trotting out the "tax cuts for the rich" cliché.
We've been critical of some of the bill's particulars on this page. On the individual tax side, the GOP's plan got muddied from the start because they focused on "fairness" rather than simplicity. But overall, it's a huge step in the right direction that will both cut taxes for most Americans and boost their incomes by accelerating economic growth.
The pundit class will continue to yammer about the political risks of this bill to Republicans, but it's Democrats who face the bigger challenge: Once the public realizes the benefits of the tax plan, how do they explain that not one Democrat voted for it?
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