The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Republican tax plan is deeply unpopular — and unimportant to many Americans

President Trump holds up examples of what a new tax form may look like during a meeting on tax policy, Nov. 2, in Washington. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

While President Trump was on an extended trip through Asia, Republicans on Capitol Hill were pushing forward on his top legislative priority: overhauling the nation’s tax code to reduce the burden on corporations and some American households.

On Tuesday, the Senate proposal was expanded to include a repeal of the individual mandate that’s part of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare). The effect was to create a sort of policy Frankenstein (actually, a policy Frankenstein’s monster) that combines two of the party’s biggest priorities. It’s an iffy move, given the deep unpopularity of the health-care proposals the Republicans were proposing. But, then, two new polls show the Republican tax proposal isn’t that popular, either, even before health-care reform was jammed inside of it.

The Kaiser Family Foundation asked Americans what Congress and the president should focus on. What’s important to address, the survey asked: Tax reform? Reauthorizing the children’s health insurance program (CHIP)? Funding the recovery from this year’s hurricanes?

More than 6-in-10 Americans said CHIP reauthorization and hurricane recovery should be a top priority. Only 28 percent said reforming the tax code should be.

Nearly as many Americans (24 percent) said tax reform shouldn’t happen at all as said it should be a top priority (28 percent). It was mostly Republicans who said it should be a top priority; Republicans were about as likely to say tax reform was a top priority as they were to say repealing Obamacare or hurricane recovery were.

Kaiser Family Foundation also asked about repealing the individual mandate. A majority supported the idea . . . until they learned what a repeal would mean. When they were informed repeal would increase premiums for those who buy their own insurance, 60 percent opposed the idea.

Quinnipiac University asked Americans about the Republican proposal more specifically — as well as a host of questions about the economy.

More than half of Americans think the economy is doing well (responding it was “excellent” or “good”), with Republicans more likely to offer a positive rating. Interestingly, Democrats were much more likely to say their own economic situation was “excellent” or “good” than they were to say the national economy was in the same position. Republicans had the same opinion of each.

Americans still generally credit the good economy to former president Barack Obama, but that’s been shifting over the course of the year. There’s a partisan split on this, but just over a third of Republicans credit Obama and just under a third of Democrats credit Trump.

Asked about the tax plan, though, the numbers for Trump were bleak. While a third of Americans approved of his handling of taxes, only a quarter approved of the Republican proposal. That includes only 60 percent of Republicans.

Why? Well, Americans generally think the proposal will either not affect them much or increase their taxes. Even a majority of Republicans don’t think they’ll get a tax cut.

Instead, most Americans think the positive effects will be felt by the wealthy.

That benefit to the wealthy, most Americans believe, will come at the expense of the middle class.

Even a quarter of Republicans think their party’s tax proposal will benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle-income Americans.

That’s not necessarily inaccurate. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found nearly a third of middle-class Americans would see a tax increase by 2027, while corporations would enjoy a permanent tax cut. The Republican argument is cutting corporate taxes will spur new job creation and economic growth. Only 36 percent of Americans think that’s true, according to Quinnipiac.

Poll numbers like that are enough to make a guy want to take a trip to Asia.