Most Americans say President Donald Trump's tax plan would benefit the wealthy and corporations, and less than half believe his message that "massive tax cuts" would help middle-class workers, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll.
The survey could serve as a warning sign for Trump as he pushes Republicans to support his proposal. The president and GOP lawmakers are seeking a major legislative victory before the 2018 elections.
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For all the differences of opinion over the details of tax changes, the poll shows a large and bipartisan appetite for tax cuts for middle-class families. Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats think the middle class and small businesses pay too much and that the wealthy and large corporations pay too little.
But doubts and partisan differences emerge when Americans size up whether the middle class will truly benefit from Trump's plan, says the survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Just 43 percent of those of adults who have heard at least a little bit about the plan think it would help the middle class. And on that, there's a large partisan divide: 79 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats share that sentiment.
"The more we give tax breaks to the wealthy, we've gone down that road before in the Bush regime," said Democrat Benjamin Orris, a 36-year-old educator from Evanston, Illinois. "That brought us into the Great Recession — almost back to the Great Depression."
Darron Smith, a 49-year-old Trump voter from West Des Moines, Iowa, said the tax plan would help him as a single parent. He predicted lower taxes would lead to more consumer spending.
As for the warnings from Democrats, Smith said he remembered hearing the same arguments during President Ronald Reagan's tenure.
"Any time Republicans want to do a tax cut, the first thing Democrats say is it's going to help the rich. I don't see it that way," Smith said.
Trump has held weekly events since late August on his tax overhaul, arguing the United States must slash the corporate rate to remain competitive and shrink the number of tax brackets. The Trump administration has suggested cutting corporate rates and overhauling the tax system could provide a $4,000 annual pay raise to the average family. Democrats and other critics question whether lower corporate rates and other changes would result in that kind of increase for families.
Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill also want to repeal inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates.
"Our plan can be summarized in three simple words: jobs, jobs, jobs," Trump said in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
But the AP-NORC poll shows a negative undercurrent surrounding the plan, and majorities in both parties view the proposal as a boon for the rich and corporate interests.
The poll found 69 percent of adults who have heard at least a little bit about the plan think it would help large corporations. The sentiment was bipartisan, including 70 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans.
Also, 60 percent said the tax push would bolster the wealthy, with 67 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans viewing it that way.
"I have no confidence in his tax plan," said Democrat Nancy Bauhs, a 70-year-old retired sweater designer from New Holstein, Wisconsin.
Fifty-four percent of those questioned, including 58 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats, think they personally pay too much in taxes.
The survey found that 56 percent said they think middle-class households pay too much, while 56 percent say the same about small businesses. By contrast, 72 percent say the wealthy and large corporations pay too little in taxes.
The administration has been actively trying to sell the plan. House Republicans are expected to consider a budget measure this week that would serve as a precursor to the tax overhaul, and administration officials have promoted the plan at events around the country.
Vice President Mike Pence, in a Tuesday speech to the GOP-leaning American Enterprise Institute, noted that Trump "doesn't like talking about tax reform, he likes talking about tax cuts because he wants the American people to know we are cutting taxes for every American."
"And when we cut taxes on businesses, it's going to benefit working Americans. So I encourage you to go make that case," Pence said.
Large majorities of Americans think tax cuts for small businesses, middle-income people and lower income people would help the economy. But the poll shows people taking the opposite view for the wealthy and corporations.
The poll found 51 percent think tax cuts for the wealthy would hurt the economy compared with 23 percent who thought it would help. Also, 48 percent said tax cuts for large corporations would hurt the economy compared with 31 percent who think they would help.
Two-thirds of Democrats think tax cuts for the wealthy would hurt the economy. Among Republicans, about one-third said tax cuts benefiting the wealthy would help the economy, one-third said they would hurt and the final third think they would make no difference.
There's greater disagreement on the impact of cuts for large corporations: Democrats are more likely to think they would hurt rather than help the economy (59 percent to 20 percent) while Republicans are more likely to think they would help than hurt (49 percent to 30 percent).
The AP-NORC poll of 1,054 adults was conducted Oct. 12-16 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org
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