The House is back and has its sights set on passing the multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending package known as the Build Back Better (BBB) Act. How do voters feel about a 2,400-page bill that targets Main Street businesses with $500 to $600 billion in higher taxes? With lawmakers in a panic to advance the legislation, they evidently forgot to ask their constituents – so we did.
A new poll by the Winston Group asked 1,000 registered voters about the President’s agenda and its impact on their personal lives. The results reveal a serious disconnect between the goals of the Build Back Better Act and those of everyday Americans.
House leaders insist the BBB is popular among voters, but our survey tells a different story. As the Winston Group reports:
In terms of what is the more important priority for the country, voters overwhelmingly (68%) said that dealing with inflation and scarcity of goods caused by supply chain problems was more important than passing the Build Back Better plan (21%). Among independents, this was even more decisive as they said dealing with inflation should be the priority (72%), with only 12% saying it should be passing the Build Back Better plan.
Are moderates in the House and Senate paying attention? By a three-to-one margin, voters want Congress to deal with inflation and supply-chain issues, not passing the BBB. And just how do they view the BBB?
Overall, voters are more likely to say the plan will have a negative impact on themselves and their families (44%), compared to 27% saying the impact will be positive and 18% saying there will be no impact. Among independents, nearly one out of two (49%) says this impact will be negative (15% positive; 20% no impact).
So the BBB is not popular despite the Biden administration claims. For those who argue the BBB will help address rising prices, voters have other ideas:
[Voters] believe that the spending and tax increases in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan would increase consumer goods prices for my family (61-23 believe-do not believe).
The tax hikes in the BBB were seen as inflationary, too:
Over half the country (52%) believes a tax increase would increase inflation, rather than decrease (11%) or have no impact (19%). Among independents, 55% believe it will increase inflation (7% decrease, 17% no impact).
Other highlights? The survey finds general support for raising tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals, but voters are also worried about tanking the economy:
There is a general belief that corporations and wealthy individuals are not paying their fair share of taxes (64-25 believe-do not believe). Yet there is also the belief that the last thing we need to do right now is raise taxes on businesses and individuals (59-30).
When voters learn how much the wealthy already pay, support for taxing them more evaporates. They were asked, “According to the IRS, the top 30% of income earners pay 90% of all the federal income taxes. Do you think that is more than their fair share, about right, less than their fair share, or don’t know?”
Twenty-six percent answered more than their fair share, 33 percent said it was about right, and only 22 percent said it was less than their fair share. That’s nearly three-to-one (59 verses 22) against the idea that the rich need to pay more.
So taxing the rich is not popular when voters understand how much they already pay. This disconnect applies to taxes on family businesses as well. While some voters initially support the rate hikes in the BBB, their support erodes when they understand those tax hikes would apply to family businesses:
President Biden’s Build Back Better plan would impose a new 8% surtax on a taxpayer’s income exceeding $25 million and a 5% surtax on income exceeding $10 million. Do you favor or oppose this proposal? 52-32 favor-oppose.
However, when people are told that the surtax proposal would apply to individually and family-owned businesses making $200,000 or more, voters oppose this proposal 38-45…. Among independents, support for the surtax proposal flips to opposition… 29-49.
The same dynamic applies to provisions that would expand the 3.8 percent NIIT and making the loss limitation rules permanent:
Voters were only marginally open to expanding the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax to apply to business income exceeding $500,000 for active business owners (42-38 favor-oppose). Independents were opposed (32-45).
On hearing the 3.8% tax would apply to individually or family-owned businesses held in trust when their income exceeds $13,000, not $500,000, support dropped (28-53 favor-oppose). Independents were even more strongly opposed in this case (15-61).
Reflecting the concern over the fragile economic environment for businesses, voters tend to believe that individually and family-owned businesses still recovering from COVID shutdowns should be allowed to fully deduct their losses (48%) rather than limiting losses they can deduct to $500,000 (30%).
Respondents also soundly rejected Senator Wyden’s proposal to tax unrealized gains (just 24 percent support while 60 percent oppose), which explains why that idea fell out of the plan so quickly. And, by a 2:1 margin, voters overall believe the BBB’s tax increases would subject individually and family-owned businesses to the highest marginal tax rates of all our trading partner countries (50-25 believe-do not believe).
So to sum up, voters think the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan fails to address the daunting challenges they face today, they believe it will make inflation worse, and they see it as harmful to the family businesses that are the foundation of local economies across the country. We already knew family businesses oppose the President’s Build Back Better Act because of the massive tax hikes it includes. We now know voters don’t like it either.