House Republican Tax Plan Already Unpopular

House Republicans haven't released their tax bill yet, but it's already unpopular.


House Republicans were supposed to unveil the full text of the tax reform bill they intend to try to pass by Christmas today, but that announcement was rescheduled to tomorrow, apparently because they haven’t reached a final agreement on key provisions of the bill such as the impact on those falling into the highest tax bracket and the fate of popular deductions such as the deduction for mortgage interest and state property taxes. Notwithstanding that delay, the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reports that the Republican plan as it has been outlined is already unpopular:

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are facing a major disadvantage with their tax plan, even before they delayed the rollout of their bill by one day.

Their plan starts out underwater, according to our latest NBC/WSJ poll — and by about the same margin as the poll’s first track of George W. Bush’s failed effort to partially privatize Social Security.

In this new NBC/WSJ poll, 25 percent call Trump’s tax plan a good idea, versus 35 percent who call it a bad idea (-10). And nearly four-in-10 Americans — 39 percent — do not have an opinion.

By comparison, here is how the major legislative efforts over the last 13 years started out in the NBC/WSJ poll under this same good idea-vs.-bad idea question:

  • December 2004: George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization effort: 38 percent good idea, 50 percent bad idea (-12); 12 percent not sure/no opinion.
  • January 2009: Barack Obama’s economic stimulus: 43 percent good idea, 27 percent bad idea (+16); 30 percent not sure/undecided.
  • April 2009: Barack Obama’s health-care bill: 33 percent good idea, 26 percent bad idea (+7); 41 percent not sure/undecided.
  • October 2017: Donald Trump’s tax plan: 25 percent good idea, 35 percent bad idea (-10); 39 percent not sure/no opinion.

“Trump and Republicans have a long way to go … to convince people of the merits of the plan,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the survey with the Democratic firm Hart Research Associates.

Indeed, 25 percent of respondents in the poll say they’ll pay more in taxes under the plan, 14 percent say they’ll pay less and 21 percent say they’ll pay about the same. Forty percent say they don’t know enough about the plan.

In addition, only 19 percent think the plan will improve the economy “a great deal” or “quite a bit,” compared with a combined 66 percent who answer “just some” or “not at all.”

And 32 percent the plan will increase the federal deficit by a “great deal” or “quite a bit,” while 49 percent who say “just some” or “not at all.”

To be fair, an examination of the poll results reveals that respondents were asked their opinion about “President Trump’s tax plan” and whether or not respondents thought it was a good idea, a bad idea, or whether they had no opinion. Given the fact that this is the same poll which reflects that the President’s job approval has hit yet another low and that his favorability numbers have gotten worse, it’s possible that phrasing the question in this matter had an impact on how people responded to the questions about the tax plan. Additionally it’s worth noting that the largest segment of those responding in the poll, some 39%, said that they don’t have an opinion one way or the other. Nonetheless, these numbers do seem to indicate that Republicans will have an uphill battle in selling their tax reform package to a public that is already skeptical about it. Additionally, if it is true that labeling the plan “President tax plan” has a negative impact on public perception of the bill, you can rest assured that Democrats will do everything they can to hang the President and his negative poll numbers around the necks of House Republicans and their tax bill. They’ll call it “President Trump’s tax plan” at every opportunity, most especially when they are speaking in forums where they know they’re likely to reach a wide number of people. In many ways, this isn’t dissimilar to the way Republicans approached the health care issue while the Affordable Care Act was making its way through Congress. In very short order, they started to call the bill “Obamacare,” and while the Obama Administration tried for a time to turn that into a positive, but it quickly became a device by which Republicans were able to rally the Tea Party behind them and we’re at the point now where “Obamacare” has become part of the political lexicon. If Democrats succeed in doing the same with the tax reform package, it could end up having a seriously negative impact on the bills fate in both the House and the Senate.

Leaving aside the political lexicon, the fact that the tax reform package is already deemed negatively by a significant segment of the public is the least of the problems that Republicans face. After tomorrow’s formal release of the bill, it will be available for everyone to examine, pick apart, and criticize. Various interest groups ranging from the construction industry to advocates of different kinds of reform will be examining the bill to see how it may impact them and the industries they represents. Pundits on both sides of the aisles will start pontificating and advocating for and against the bill, and there will be tremendous pressure on Member of Congress and the Senate who appear to be on the fence regarding the plan. All of this will happen while Congress operates on a very short time frame. While there are nearly two months between now and Christmas, the actual number of days that Congress is scheduled to be in session is quite small. Getting the matter to a final vote even only in the House of Representatives will not be an easy task, and if the bill becomes even more unpopular it will become even more difficult. After that, the matter will move to the Senate. While Mitch McConnell apparently intends to utilize the budget reconciliation process to get the bill through the Senate, meaning that the sixty-vote threshold for ordinary legislation will not apply, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee passage. As we saw with the effort to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, that’s easier said than done, and it’s unlikely that the process in the Senate could be done by Christmas no matter how quickly the House acts.



FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, Taxes, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I didn’t realize the Republicans had a plan. I thought it was just a bill they were trying to put together. Plans are beyond them.

  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    30 years later and we are still chasing Trickle-Down Economics? WTF?
    It’s never worked. Ever. Just take a look at Kansas, which ran the full Republican monty. Brownback said it would be

    “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,”

    . Only it lead to huge deficits and funding short-falls.
    What happened to Republicans and their grave concerns about deficits?
    In an act tantamount to treason these boneheads intentionally held back the economy, after the Bush Recession, for years with their mis-guided austerity. Now that the economy is kind of decent we should be investing in the future and preparing for the next recession. Not giving the Trump kids a billion dollar (plus) tax break.
    I wonder what Bunge and John321 are going to think when their taxes go up to pay for the cuts to the top 1%?

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Corporations have been seeing record profits and hoarding cash for years. They are not going to start hiring because they get a tax cut. They are just going to hoard more. Screw the corporations and screw the top 1%. Give the middle and lower classes a massive tax cut. That’ll drive demand — which is what’s needed. This has always been A CRISIS OF DEMAND. You want to grow the economy give the average Joe some extra money. They will spend it, not hoard it, and that will drive demand. Donnie Jr. and Ivanka don’t need more money.
    Also…spend some really money on investment; roads brideges schools, airports, power grids, etc.
    And also…This country has one of the lowest effective tax rates in the developed world. Why in the fvck should we lower it more?

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m all in favor of tax reform, which is long overdue. I am especially in favor of corporate tax reform, which is desperately needed. The 1986 bill would be an example of what I want: something that was revenue-neutral (Reagan threatened to veto any bill that wasn’t) and was sponsored by Democrats. This is not that. This is a giant tax cut with some tax breaks eliminated to make it seem like reform. it’s garbage.

    One other thing: there should be no tax reform until Trump release his returns. Trump is a wealthy man and, depending on how tax reform shakes out, he could benefit by it in the millions of not tens or even hundreds of millions. The American people have a right to know if the President is going to profit on his own legislation.

  5. Monala says:
  6. Slugger says:

    I don’t know what is in this bill. I have heard that there will be a cutback of 401k and state and local tax deductions. Those items would be tax hikes for my family.
    I hear a lot about corporate taxes. Does anyone know what corporations actually pay? I am confused.

  7. al-Ameda says:


    I don’t know what is in this bill. I have heard that there will be a cutback of 401k and state and local tax deductions. Those items would be tax hikes for my family.

    I’m in the top 15% area and I would see a significant tax increase if those tax situations are “reformed” as proposed.

    As for Corporate Tax reform/reduction? Our current Corporate Tax rate (35% or so?) is among the highest of the advanced industrial nations (about 10% points lower), however most corporations pay nowhere near the maximum rate. There is a general feeling that the tax rate should be reduced to around 20%.

    Right now It’s sold as being an incentive for companies to increase wages for middle class workers. I’m not going to wait for that bus to roll. Corporations are currently sitting on trillions of dollars, corporate balance sheets are stronger than ever, yet, except for upper management everyone else is treading water. It seems to me that CEOs could increase salary and benefit compensation for rank and file employees now if they so choose, but they’re not. One thing we know with much certainty, if the Corporate Tax is reduced as planned, a fair share is is going to compensation for the highest levels of senior management.

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    The Republicans want to increase the deficit, cut or eliminate popular deductions so that they can cut taxes for high income earners. I know that many Americans voted for Trump, but even this people can’t be that insane/dumb, can they be?

  9. de stijl says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Modern day Republicans have goals, not plans. Plans are alien to the mindset. If not for third party policy shops, there would be no R sponsored bills.

    Actual legislating is a lost art / skill on the right side of the aisle. It adds little value and often has unintended consequences. Plus, it’s boring and no fun. Why bother? Let the Ds do it and we’ll pot-shot ’em from the sidelines – which is loads of fun.

    It sounds like I’m joking or hyperbolating (neologism?).

    I’m not.

    Republicans do not want to and literally cannot craft passable meaningful legislation.

    Absent industry lobbyists and policy shops, they might be able to rename a post office, maybe. Declare Bratwurst Month, maybe. Some pisswater dick will likely stick an abortion / Planned Parenthood amendment on the We Love Bratwurst bill.

    They cannot count votes and they certainly cannot whip votes anymore. (See the John Boehner post.)

  10. de stijl says:


    Trump is a wealthy man

    That’s his assertion, but we have no evidence to support it.

  11. Scott says:

    @Andre Kenji: Yes

    Every thing about this bill will be unpopular with the majority of Americans. They don’t care.

    They will cut Medicare. They don’t care about seniors’ opinions.

    They will cut Medicaid. They don’t care about the poor, working or not.

    They will not reform taxes. They don’t care about those things.

    They will raise taxes on the middle and upper middle classes. They don’t care about those groups.

    Anybody who is counting on the unpopularity of these bills to sink them is just delusional.

    They don’t work for their constituents; they work for their wealthy benefactors.

  12. Slugger says:

    BTW, are you guys planning to actually pay taxes? Obviously, if your income is all on a 1040 form you are stuck. I have a sense that many commentors here are professionals. The IRS enforcement arm has had substantial budget cuts including the 2017 Trump budget. I expect that we’ll soon be like Italy where nonpayment of taxes is more popular than soccer.

  13. Ratufa says:

    It will be interesting to see how Democrats in Congress and the Democratic “leadership” react to the bill. Will they make a strong public effort to oppose it as a giveaway to the rich, or they tone down their opposition so their donors don’t get too upset?

    Yes, that’s most probably a rhetorical question.

  14. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Republicans do not want to and literally cannot craft passable meaningful legislation.

    I wish this were true, but there are pockets of Congress that have been highly active recently.

    Nobody outside the beltway (heh) realizes it, but last year John McCain finally got his wish, to get the Pentagon out of defense acquisition. Pretty much all of the Office of the Secretary of Defense authorities to oversee major defense programs have now been devolved to the individual Components (Army, Navy, Air Force), in a return to how things were done in the late ’50s.

    What could go wrong?

    I expect this to cost taxpayers literally hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse over the next decade — but nobody is paying any attention.

  15. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “…it’s possible that phrasing the question in this matter had an impact on how people responded to the questions about the tax plan.”

    Or, it could be that the parts people have heard about so far look like a dog’s dinner–or the contents of a litter box, take your pick.

  16. KM says:

    Over at Breitbart, they’re loving this tripe because it will “break the backs of libturd state governments” and that houses don’t cost more then $500K to “real people”. Republicans are going to sell this as punishment for blue states and the Trumpkins will gleefully suck it up. Meanwhile, the average for a new house in the US is over $300K and climbing rapidly. Places like Austin, Nashville, Atlanta and Charlotte (you know, red state cities) can go even higher and still be in middle/upper middle class range.

    This is going to punch the housing market square in the face. Millennials can not afford to by a house and lose the mortgage deduction AND state sales tax. Trump’s about to bankrupt some Real Muricans when they can’t get construction jobs anymore……

  17. the Q says:

    Under the “greediest generation” AKA baby boomers, the rich and now the corporations will make out like bandits and the inheritance tax will be eviscerated until abolished.

    Way to go neo libs, way to go! But, but, but….TGLMNOPs can now schite in any Target or Starbucks restroom and Catholic hospitals have to give lesbians birth control coverage.

    Hip hip phucking hooray!!!!! Meanwhile we approach third world income inequality and feudal working conditions.

    All you pot smoking draft card burning hippies turned out to be waaaaaaaaay more corporate friendly and conservative fiscally than virtually any past generation of the last 140 years.

    Blow up the Democratic Party…their time as a working class bulwark against the greedy elite died in the late 80s when your precious Clintonistas took over.

    Just remember, being a boomer means never having to admit being wrong about anything.

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @the Q:

    Way to go neo libs

    …because Democrats proposed and passed… none of this?

    What, exactly, are you saying that these “neo libs” should have done differently?

  19. the Q says:

    Have a backbone, stop coddling their Wall street, big Pharma/HMO, Hollywood/Silicon Valley contributors.

    When I heard Obama tout the TPP last year as “family friendly” I wanted to throw up.

    I bet no one on this blog has ever met or heard of Michael Froman who was the USTR and who negotiated the TPP.

    Google this guy to reveal all that is wrong with the neo libs.

    He was Rubin’s right hand man at Treasury and later at Citibank. Those two were instrumental along with the GOP of gutting Glass Steagall, the first bill FDR signed as President as part of the Banking Act of 1933 which fundamentally altered the regulation of finance capital.

    Then see Brazile’s tell all about the Clinton machine prostituting the DNC for their own ends.

    Over the previous six years, Democratshave lost 60-plus House seats, nine Senate seats, 14 governorships and 1,000 state and local offices. Russians didn’t do that. Democrats did — with the help of a surging Republican Party that found itself after election night in its strongest electoral position across the country since 1928.

    Democrats need to understand their own role in their own rotting position