Nationwide support for Trump’s tax plan is embarrassingly low

A new poll shows that 60 percent believe the president's plan favors the wealthy. They're right.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, October 31, 2017. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, October 31, 2017. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week, only 33 percent of Americans support President Trump’s tax plan, while 50 percent oppose it. The survey, conducted between October 29 and November 1, also indicated that at least 60 percent of Americans believe — contrary to the president’s repeated claims — that the plan also favors the wealthy.

Respondents were asked, “given what [they’d] heard or read about it,” whether they supported or opposed the plan and how strong those opinions were. Only 20 percent of those polled said they “strongly” supported the plan; 13 percent said they “somewhat” supported the plan.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, 34 percent of those surveyed said they “strongly” opposed the plan, with 16 percent saying they “somewhat” opposed it. Seventeen percent said they had “no opinion.”

Respondents were also asked whether they believed Trump was doing an “excellent”, “good”, “not so good”, or “poor” job improving the federal tax system. Thirty-four percent of those polled said Trump was doing either an “excellent” or “good” job handling tax reform, while 56 percent said the president was doing a “not so good” or “poor” job. Ten percent said they had no opinion.

More notably, survey respondents were asked whether they believed Trump’s tax plan favored the wealthy over middle-class and lower-income individuals and families. A whopping 60 percent said they believed the plan favored the wealthy; only 13 percent of respondents said they believed it favored the middle class.

That’s a problem for Trump and congressional Republicans, who continue to try and sell their tax reform efforts as a benefit to middle-class families.

“Working hard on the biggest tax cut in U.S. history,” Trump tweeted on October 25. “Great support from so many sides. Big winners will be the middle class, business & JOBS.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) echoed that sentiment in a statement on Friday.

“The entire purpose of our plan is to cut taxes for hardworking middle-class families. These Americans have been squeezed the most under our broken tax code, and they are going to finally get the relief they deserve,” he said.

The GOP claims that its plan benefits middle-class families by saving them around $1,182 a year in taxes; that applies to a “typical household of four with gross income of $59,000, leaving their tax bill at $400,” according to the Associated Press.

But experts and analysts have since voiced concern that the plan could actually raise taxes on the middle class over time, given that it cuts several important deductions for things like medical costs and student loan interest and guts personal exemptions. As the AP’s Josh Boak pointed out, the plan also “cap[s] the deduction of state and local taxes” and “would use a less generous measure of inflation, so that more middle class taxpayers would creep into a higher bracket over several years.”

According to the Tax Policy Center, the plan would also fall short of its many other promises, including simplifying the tax code and making things easier on working families.

“By nearly doubling the standard deduction and repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, it would simplify tax filing for millions of middle-income households. …But, for other families, filing would get more complicated,” Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, wrote. “Businesses would get a sweet tax cut, but the price they’d pay is far more complexity. Owners of some pass-through businesses such as partnerships would have to comply with complicated new anti-abuse rules to benefit from the new 25 percent tax rate. …Accountants and tax lawyers will be very happy.”

Additionally, although the Republican tax plan does increase the Child Tax Credit (CTC) from $1,000 to $1,600, it is still nonrefundable, which means that lower-income families would not benefit.

“Families who earn less than $3,000 during the tax year — such as when a parent loses a job or cannot work — do not benefit at all from the credit, and the refundable portion of the credit phases in slowly such that many low-income families receive only part of the credit,” the Center for American Progress (CAP) reported. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at CAP.) “Families do not receive the credit until they file their taxes and receive their annual refund, meaning that they must cover significant child-related expenses up front.”

None of this has stopped Republicans from trying to shift attention back to what they see as the bigger draw in their plan: the supposed $1,182 a year tax cut.

“This plan is for the middle-class families in this country who deserve a break. It is for the families who are out there living paycheck to paycheck, who just keep getting squeezed,” Speaker Ryan said in a press conference on Thursday, alongside members of the Ways and Means Committee. “For many families, having an additional $1,182 more will make a real difference.”