As Republicans readied the rollout of a tax overhaul plan last week, there was minor debate about the name. President Trump preferred dubbing it the “Cut Cut Cut Act” according to ABC News, but GOP congressional leaders settled on “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
Right before the Republicans’ plan was released, a Washington Post-ABC News poll asked a random sample of 1,005 Americans how they would describe Trump’s tax plan. They offered a wide variety of positive and negative words, but perhaps surprisingly, just five people mentioned the word “cut.”
The poll found 22 percent of Americans offering positive one-word descriptions of Trump’s tax plan, with “fair” standing out as the most positive common word, named by 4 percent overall. Similar percentages used general positive terms such as “good” (4 percent) “excellent” or “great,” at 2 percent each.
Other Americans giving positive assessments described the plan as “beneficial” or “helpful” (2 percent said either) or “needed,” while others expressed optimism about the plan as being “hopeful” or “promising.” Positive assessments of Trump’s plan also provided a hodgepodge of answers, including words such as “relief,” “equality,” “growth” and “stimulating,” though less than 1 percent mentioned the word “cut.”
In a separate question released Friday, the Post-ABC poll found 33 percent of Americans supporting Trump’s tax plan while 50 percent opposed it.
In line with that margin, a larger 41 percent of adults described Trump’s plan with a negative word. Critics of Trump’s tax plan also included a mix of general negative reactions as well as an emphasis on fairness. Some top negative included “biased,” “bad” and “stupid” or “idiotic,” but “unfair” topped the list, at 4 percent. A series of other top words touched on concerns that Trump’s tax plan favors upper-income Americans, including describing the plan as “rich,” “greedy,” “selfish,” “self-serving,” “biased” or “regressive.”
Those types of responses are in line the with a broader perception of Trump’s efforts, according to a question asked after respondents gave their initial view of Trump’s tax plan. The Post-ABC survey found that 60 percent expected Trump’s tax proposal to favor the rich, compared with 13 percent who expected it would favor the middle class, 2 percent favoring the poor and 17 percent saying it would favor all groups equally.
Americans’ initial reactions to Trump’s tax plan were notably vague on the eve of its release, with almost 4 in 10 offering either neutral words (15 percent) or no word at all (22 percent) when asked how they would describe it.
The sizable share of the public without a positive or negative assessment of Trump’s proposals — and the lack of specificity in many positive and negative responses — suggests opinions toward the tax plan are malleable as Congress debates specifics of the proposal.
Democrats and Republicans offered very different one-word descriptions of Trump's plan, but they were not mirror opposites. A 55 percent majority of Republicans described Trump's tax proposal using a positive word, but a somewhat larger 65 percent of Democrats described it negatively.
Another factor at play is the degree to which Trump’s overall image drives popularity of Republicans’ tax plan. The Post-ABC poll found 37 percent approving of Trump’s performance overall, and 75 percent of this group supports his tax plan. Among the 57 percent who disapprove of Trump’s performance overall, 78 percent disapprove of his tax plan.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults reached on cell and landline phones with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.