Poll: Bipartisan majority supports raising minimum wage

Poll: Bipartisan majority supports raising minimum wage
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Significant majorities in both parties are in favor of raising the minimum wage and are supportive of a slew of other anti-poverty programs, according to a poll from University of Maryland Program for Public Consultation (PPC) and the non-partisan group Voice of the People.

The survey could come as bad news for President Trump, who suggested slashing many of the programs in question in his 2018 budget proposal.

“Contrary to what we see in Congress, when Americans consider federal options for addressing poverty they find quite a lot of bipartisan common ground for taking action,” said PPC Director Steven Kull, who headed the survey. “There is a clear consensus that the federal government has a role to play in fighting poverty.”

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The poll presented strong arguments for and against a slew of policies, and gauged how much support they had among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Seventy-four percent of respondents (including 58 percent of Republicans) said they backed boosting the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $9 over the course of two years. But an increase to $10.10 over three years lost Republican support; only a third of Republicans liked the idea, despite an overall majority of 57 percent of respondents thinking it was a good idea.

But when it came to how the minimum wage is set, members of both parties and independents (63 percent) agreed that it would be better for Congress to simply tie the minimum wage to inflation, instead of revisiting it through new legislation every few years.

Democrats in Congress recently unveiled a campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, but Trump has not offered any indication that he would support an increase.

Aside from the minimum wage, the study showed support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Trump’s proposed budget would cut significant funding for the program.

Only 12 percent nationally said the funding levels were too high, and 57 percent thought they were too low. Among Republicans, 40 percent thought the benefits were too low, while 41 percent thought they were about right -- only 19 percent thought they were too high.

When asked to offer their own specific SNAP benefit, Republican respondents said benefits should increase by 13 percent and 25 percent, depending on the case, while Democrats wanted benefits to increase by 38 percent to 50 percent.

Large majorities in both groups supported restricting SNAP from being used for candy and sugary sodas, and providing discounts for fruits and vegetables. 

Regarding the issue of accepting federal Medicaid dollars under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), voters in both states that accepted the expansion (65 percent) and those that did not (62 percent) thought their states should take the funding. But Republicans were less enthusiastic, with just 43 percent supporting the expansion.

The House-passed repeal of Obamacare would cut more than $800 billion in expanded Medicaid coverage. 

Bipartisan majorities also favored expanding pre-kindergarten and Head Start education programs for low-income families, federal programs to help the long-term unemployed find jobs, and giving states anti-poverty block grants to spend at their discretion. 

The study surveyed 7,128 people for its national sample, and had a 1.2 percent margin of error.