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Poll: Just 12 Percent of Americans Think Tax Code Update is Top Priority

Four in 10 said a Trump-led proposal would raise taxes on the middle class

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., holds his weekly news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., holds his weekly news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As efforts in the Senate to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law flounder, Congressional Republicans have now turned their attention toward overhauling the federal tax code. They are set to publicly release their framework for drafting a bill Wednesday afternoon.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and other GOP leaders long maintained they hoped to pass new tax legislation by Thanksgiving, but now some have pushed that target back to Christmas.

But most Americans don’t see a tax code overhaul as the top priority for Congress, according to a CNN poll released Wednesday.

Just 12 percent of respondents said tax laws should be atop the Congressional agenda, compared to 36 percent who said Congress should put together relief packages for areas damaged by the recent string of natural disasters before it proceeds to other business.

Thirty-one percent said dealing with health care should be the top priority.

It remains unclear how the various elements of government will proceed on tax negotiations after partisan efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law failed in the Senate.

Some White House officials have expressed a willingness to work with Democrats up for re-election in states President Donald Trump won last November.

The conservative Freedom Caucus, led by North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, lurks as a variable in Ryan’s plans for a house bill.

“The House has to move forward first,” Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Hellersaid in August. “They should do so in September. The Senate will then move after the House does in October.”

The CNN poll Wednesday showed that most Americans, 68 percent, agree with Trump that the federal tax code needs a major update, something Democratic, independent, and Republican respondents all agreed on.

Thirty-five percent said the tax system needs a complete overhaul. Thirty-three percent said it needed major changes.

Some respondents were dubious of the Trump administration, though.

Roughly four in 10 Americans believe taxes for the middle class will rise under the president’s proposal — whatever it ends up being. Just one in four believes the middle class will be taxed less.

Democrats were more wary than Republicans of a Trump-led tax overhaul, especially for the middle class and the wealthy.

Just 9 percent of Democratic respondents said middle-class taxes would decline under a Trump-led plan, compared to 52 percent of Republicans.

And 61 percent of Democrats believed the wealthy would see lower tax rates under a Trump plan, while just 19 percent of Republicans said the same.

The marketing research firm SSRS conducted the CNN poll by telephone from Sept. 17 through Sept. 20 among 1,053 randomly sampled U.S. adults. The sampling error is 3.7 percentage points for the full survey, larger for subsets.

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