Climate/Infrastructure Plan Enjoys Broad Support

April 3, 2021

Especially, it turns out, if you tax the wealthy to pay for it.

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:

News pundits have been predicting a reckoning for President Biden: He’s risking his agenda with a big tax plan! Paying for infrastructure is politically perilous!

Maybe not. The latest Morning Consult/Politico poll finds that “voters broadly support this expanded notion of infrastructure, with measures like increasing housing options for low-income families garnering the support of 70 percent of registered voters, including 87 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans.”

Gosh, it’s just like Biden’s covid-19 stimulus package. Republicans in Congress are dead-set against it, but a lot of their own voters think it is a fine idea.

Other progressive priorities get varying levels of support. According to the poll, 63 percent of respondents support using money for climate change research, while 60 percent support free community college. Expanding the country’s electric vehicle charging network gets 59 percent.

The kicker: The bill is more popular with the tax hikes than without them. “57% of voters say they’d be more likely to support Biden’s infrastructure plan if it were funded by tax increases on those making over $400,000,” the poll found. “47% of voters say they’d be more likely to support the $3 trillion proposal if it were funded by increases to the corporate tax rate.” Only 27 percent support infrastructure without tax hikes, which appears to be the GOP’s stance. A plurality of Republican voters (42 percent) — well short of a majority — favor that approach. (Remember the good old days when Republicans cared about debt?) Among independents, 52 percent support the plan with tax hikes while only 26 percent support an infrastructure bill without them.

The media, it seems, are caught in a Republican framing of policy that does not match reality. There is not a hue and cry over a mammoth infrastructure bill. To the contrary, it is super popular. And Republicans might want to stop harping on the tax increases: Those make the bill even more popular.

In a sign of confidence, Biden said in his rollout speech, “The American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we have seen or done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.” In other words, its size is a feature not a bug. We invest now because of huge returns down the road.

Republicans’ 2017 bet on huge tax cuts for richer Americans and for corporations not only failed to pay for themselves; there is little evidence they had any significant, long-lasting benefit for the economy. If you are going to bet on future returns, why not get bridges, roads, internet and other tangible benefits?

I have previously suggested that the pandemic and recession, much like the Great Depression, may have shifted the country’s politics. Voters want more government. They are not shy about saying who should pay for it. (Perhaps the hundreds of billions of stimulus dollars handed out to corporations left many voters thinking corporations should start paying more.) If that is so, Biden is not taking a big risk; he is playing it safe. It may be Republicans who are playing with fire in opposing popular legislation, just as they did on the relief plan. (The shift in opinion on more activist government may explain why Biden gets a 57/39 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, while Republicans in Congress get a dreadful 36/55 favorable/unfavorable rating.)

And if Republicans are banking on Biden’s immigration policies to carry them to victory, they might want to reconsider. While 35 percent of voters care about issues such as jobs, the economy, taxes and spending, only 15 percent care about security issues, of which immigration is only one item.

Reuters:

The idea of imposing a wealth tax on the richest Americans has elicited sharply divergent views across a spectrum of politicians, with President Donald Trump branding it socialist and progressive Democratic presidential contenders Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders prominently endorsing it.

But it may have broad public support, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that found nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that the very rich should pay more.

Among the 4,441 respondents to the poll, 64% strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs” – the essence of a wealth tax. Results were similar across gender, race and household income. While support among Democrats was stronger, at 77%, a majority of Republicans, 53%, also agreed with the idea.

A wealth tax is levied on an individual’s net worth, such as stocks, bonds and real estate, as well as cash holdings, similar in concept to property taxes. It is separate from an income tax, which applies to wages, interest and dividends, among other sources.

Asked in the poll if “the very rich should be allowed to keep the money they have, even if that means increasing inequality,” 54% of respondents disagreed.

“Rich people have a right to blow their money on Lamborghinis and world-wide cruises or whatever,” said Esin Zimmerman, 53, a lifelong Republican from Madison, Minnesota, who wants higher taxes for the wealthy. “But that money could be used in other ways that help people.”

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