Strong Support for Taxing the Rich to Pay for Biden Agenda: Poll

Strong Support for Taxing the Rich to Pay for Biden Agenda: Poll

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Lawmakers are still wrangling over the size, scope and content of President Biden’s social and economic agenda, but according to new poll data, the majority of Americans already agree on how to pay for it: by taxing the rich.

In a poll of 1,226 likely voters conducted last week by Vox and Data for Progress, more than 70% of respondents expressed support for taxing high-income households to help pay for Democrats’ plan to spend as much as $3.5 trillion on a variety of social programs. Seventy-two percent “strongly” or “somewhat” backed the idea of increasing capital gains on wealthy households, while 71% supported higher income taxes on the top 2% and limiting deductions for business owners.

A majority also expressed support for increasing funding for the IRS to ensure that businesses and the wealthy pay the taxes they owe, and for raising the corporate tax rate.

Less certainty on specific proposals: While 63% of respondents said they strongly or somewhat support Biden’s Build Back proposal – which the poll described as a “$3.5 trillion proposal that would expand Medicare bene􀁂ts to include vision, hearing, and dental care, make long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, healthcare, and child care more affordable, extend tax cuts for families with children, and create clean energy jobs” – there was less agreement on what the most important elements of the plan are.

The single provision that received the most support is raising taxes, which 13% of respondents chose as their top priority. Twelve percent chose expanding Medicare as their top priority, while another 12% said funding long-term care for older adults and people with disabilities was most important.

Other elements that some Democratic lawmakers say are crucial, such as funding for child care, universal pre-K and free community college, received less support, with less than 5% of respondents saying they were a top priority.

Sanders blames the press: Although polls show that a majority of Americans generally support the Biden agenda, they also show that the public doesn’t know much about the details of the plan. This will only make Democrats’ job that much harder as they try to determine which provisions to cut and which to leave in as they work to trim the size of the overall plan.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday issued a statement accusing the media of failing to explain the Biden plan to the public, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who leveled a similar charge earlier this week.

 “Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better,” Sanders said. “And the polling numbers go astronomically high when people understand that this $3.5 trillion bill will be paid for by demanding that the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.”

But “the mainstream media has done an exceptionally poor job in covering what actually is in the legislation,” Sanders charged. “There have been endless stories about the politics of passing Build Back Better, the role of the president, the conflicts in the House and the Senate, the opposition of two senators, the size of the bill, etc. – but very limited coverage as to what the provisions of the bill are and the crises for working people that they address.”

Saying the Biden plan is “one of the most consequential pieces of legislation for working people in the modern history of our country,” Sanders called on the press to do a better job explaining it. “The American people have a right to know what's in it,” he said. “My hope is that mainstream media will fulfill their responsibilities and make that happen.”

But, but, but: Sanders’ critique undoubtedly has some truth to it in that the media has extensively covered Democrats’ intraparty disputes and the politics surrounding the two major pieces of legislation. But those disputes have also created massive uncertainty about what exactly the Build Back Better plan will and won’t include.