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Despite Republican opposition in Congress, majorities of Americans favor every key aspect of President Biden’s infrastructure plan, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The survey of 1,649 U.S. adults, which was conducted from April 6 to April 8, found that most (51 percent) say they would support “another big legislative package to invest in America’s infrastructure and combat climate change”; far fewer (30 percent) say they would oppose it.
Both Democrats (80 percent to 8 percent) and independents (48 percent to 36 percent) favor such a package. Republicans are opposed, 58 percent to 22 percent.
Congressional Republicans have argued that the White House’s definition of infrastructure is too broad. But when asked if legislation should solely address traditional infrastructure such as bridges and roads — which is the GOP’s position — less than a quarter of Americans (22 percent) agree. More than twice that number (49 percent) side with the Biden administration and say the next big bill from Congress should also tackle other types of infrastructure such as energy, water, housing, health care, manufacturing and communications systems.
And while the legislation’s potential $3 trillion price tag is raising some eyebrows — slightly more Americans, for instance, say Congress should spend less (26 percent) or nothing (15 percent) on these proposals than say Congress should spend as much as it takes (36 percent) — opinion shifts in Biden’s favor once the public learns that he plans to pay for it by raising taxes on corporations and Americans making more than $400,000 a year.
A full 56 percent of Americans support that funding stream — twice the number (28 percent) who voice opposition. Likewise, 55 percent of Americans favor a global minimum tax rate designed to help prevent multinational corporations from evading U.S. taxes by shifting profits to other countries; even more (65 percent) want to close loopholes that allow corporations to avoid U.S. taxes by putting their money in offshore banks; and a majority (51 percent) support raising the U.S. corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to pay for infrastructure investments. Opposition to these Biden administration initiatives is low, ranging from 15 percent (for closing loopholes) to 30 percent (for raising the corporate tax rate).
In contrast, the GOP’s preferred source of infrastructure funding — to keep corporate taxes the same and instead require Americans who benefit from improvements to pay for them via “user fees” such as a gas tax — seems to be deeply unpopular. A mere 8 percent of Americans say they favor it.
Far more popular are the individual planks of Biden’s plan; in fact, all 10 included in the Yahoo News/YouGov poll earned majority support from the public. The most popular provisions were improving roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and electric grids (72 percent support to 11 percent oppose); providing advanced training for millions of workers in manufacturing and other industries (63 percent support to 16 percent oppose); increasing funding for rural broadband internet access (61 percent support to 19 percent oppose); creating subsidies that reduce the cost of childcare for working parents (60 percent support to 22 percent oppose); and investing in clean energy to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change (60 percent support to 25 percent oppose).
Even the less popular planks of the Biden proposal — making community college free for all Americans (51 percent support to 32 percent oppose); building 1 million affordable and energy-efficient housing units (52 percent support to 27 percent oppose); and creating a national paid family leave program (51 percent support to 27 percent oppose) — were favored by most Americans, with less than a third opposed.
Regardless of such numbers, Biden is likely to have a hard time muscling his massive infrastructure plan through a divided Congress. When asked directly whether they favor or oppose the “infrastructure bill called the American Jobs Plan” introduced last week by the “Biden administration” — wording that explicitly attributed the proposal to the president — support fell to 39 percent, with a full third of Americans (34 percent) now professing to be unsure. This suggests that as political warfare heats up on Capitol Hill, opinions on infrastructure may become increasingly polarized, like nearly everything else in American politics.
Congressional Republicans, for their part, have flatly rejected Biden’s initial proposal.
“I’m going to fight them every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week. “That package that they’re putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side.”
In order to pass the bill through the budget process of reconciliation, Biden would need all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus to support the bill as well as nearly every Democrat in the House, assuming that no Republicans break ranks and support the package. That’s the process the party used to pass a COVID-19 relief bill last month.
While that legislation was popular with more than 70 percent of Americans in some polls, it received zero Republican votes. According to the Yahoo News/YouGov survey, a plurality of Americans (36 percent) say they would support the Senate passing “other big legislative packages on a simple majority vote through budget reconciliation,” while 27 percent say they are opposed. More Americans say they’re not sure (37 percent).
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday that he wanted the legislation to be bipartisan. Representing a state that voted for then-President Donald Trump by nearly 40 points in 2020, Manchin has staked out a position as the most conservative Democrat in the Senate and is seen as the crucial swing vote in the evenly divided chamber.
“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” Manchin explained. “How is that good for the future of this nation? Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues. Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.”
Biden said Wednesday he was willing to work with Republicans and was “open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations.” But he added that he would “not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option.”
“Damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood,” Biden said, “but I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.”
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,649 U.S. adults interviewed online from April 6 to April 8, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or non-vote), and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.6 percent.
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