OPIOID SERIES:

Poll: Majority oppose GOP tax bill

Poll: Majority oppose GOP tax bill
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A strong majority of polled voters oppose the Republican tax bill passed by the Senate earlier this month, a new poll finds.
 
The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris survey found that 64 percent of respondents oppose the bill. While 72 percent of Republicans support the GOP’s tax reform efforts, 89 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents oppose it.
 
Many respondents — 34 percent — believe the bill will raise their taxes, while 23 percent said they don’t believe it would impact them, and 21 percent said they believed it would result in a lower personal tax bill.
 

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House and Senate negotiators struck an “agreement in principle” on Tuesday for a tax overhaul after each of the chambers passed their own versions of tax reform earlier this month.
  
While a majority oppose the GOP tax bill, a finding in line with other polls, Harvard CAPS-Harris co-director Mark Penn noted that the poll finds more support when people are asked about some of its specific provisions.
 
There is broad support for reducing the overall individual tax rate, for example, and 60 percent of voters support eliminating the mandate that requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

The final version of the bill is expected to lower the top individual rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

But a majority oppose lowering the corporate tax rate — the bill’s signature issue. The bill is expected to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent under the House-Senate conference agreement that has tentatively been reached. 
 
Fifty-nine percent of voters oppose lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the poll found.

Republicans argue cutting the corporate rate will unshackle an economy they say has been stagnant and create jobs.

Among the provisions that have majority support: The GOP bill will nearly double standard deductions for individuals; double the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000; cut the tax rate on small businesses; reduce overall tax rates for individuals; eliminate the ObamaCare mandate; and get rid of the alternative minimum tax for most people, while keeping it for companies.

Harvard CAPS-Harris asked voters about each of these provisions and found majority support.

Among the provisions that a majority oppose: Eliminating deductions for state and local taxes beyond $10,000 of local property taxes; doubling the exemption for the estate tax while leaving it in place for large estates; and significantly lowering the corporate tax rate.

When voters are told about each of those specific provisions in the bill, support for the bill goes up to 51 percent, with 49 percent opposing — a finding that could give some comfort to GOP lawmakers.

“While two thirds initially say they oppose the bill, that flips to 51 percent support after [being] read a full list of its features, suggesting the Republicans are losing the spin war but not necessarily the policy war,” said Penn.

However, voters polled were told the bill would not make any changes to the popular mortgage interest deduction, which is now likely to be capped at $750,000.
 
As it stands, most voters say the bill does not cut taxes enough on the middle class and that it cuts taxes too much for companies.

In addition, a plurality said the tax cuts would have a large impact on the federal deficit, while having only a small effect on economic growth.

“The public would like the final bill to do more for individuals and small business and less for big business,” said Penn. “They have concern over the deficit increases but that again all but evaporates once they are told the overall size of federal expenditures in the next decade is $43 trillion. Overall, the public supports lower taxes and lower government spending.”

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll online survey of 1,989 registered voters was conducted Dec. 8-11. The partisan breakdown is 36 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 4 percent other.

The survey is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2017. 

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.