January 14th, 2010
11:51 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority support taxing wealthy rather than high end plans

CNN Poll: Majority support taxing wealthy rather than high end plans.
CNN Poll: Majority support taxing wealthy rather than high end plans.

Washington (CNN) - As House and Senate Democrats try to merge two separate health care reform bills, a new national poll suggests that when it comes to paying for the legislation, Americans favor provisions in the House bill over those in the Senate version.

And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday also indicates that most Americans don't register either a strong negative or positive reaction to the bills.

Full results (PDF)

According to the poll, 61 percent of the public favor the House provision, which taxes people with high incomes regardless of the kind of health insurance they have. Twenty-nine percent favor the Senate provision, which raises taxes on high-quality health insurance plans, regardless of the amount of money made by the people covered by those plans.

Congressional Democratic negotiators from both chambers and White House officials are trying to find common ground on one of the most divisive issues, the Senate bill's inclusion of an excise tax on high-end insurance plans. Liberals in the House and labor unions are particularly upset with the provision, arguing that it would it would hurt union members who traded higher salaries for more generous health benefits. Proponents of the tax on such "Cadillac" plans argue it's one of the most effective ways to curb medical inflation. President Barack Obama has made clear he favors the Senate Democrats' approach.

"A tax on the wealthy is obviously most popular with lower-income Americans, but it is also the preference of people making $100,000 a year or more," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty percent of people in that income level prefer a tax on higher-income Americans to a tax on high-quality health care plans. Thirty-six percent of them prefer the tax on insurance plans rather than the income-based tax."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would like to pass a compromise bill before the president's upcoming State of the Union address, though some Democrats have indicated that timetable could slip.

Another divisive issue is the so-called "public option," a health insurance option administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies. The House bill has the public option while the Senate verions does not include the provision. Fifty-four percent of people questioned in the poll support a government run option, with 46 percent opposed.

According to the survey, only four in ten support the health care bills passed by the House and Senate, with 57 percent opposed. But only 45 percent oppose the bills because they say they are too liberal. One in ten suggest the oppose the legislation because it's not liberal enough.

The poll also indicates that only 28 percent say they would be angry if health care legislation passed, with another 23 percent suggesting they'd be displeased. One in three questioned say they'd be please, with only 14 percent saying they'd enthusiastically support the bills.

"Despite the controversy that has surrounded that legislation since last summer's contentious town hall meetings, most Americans don't seem to have an extreme position on health care," adds Holland. "This may explain why the Democrats are going full-steam ahead on health care despite majority opposition to their bills. The number who oppose the bills because they are not liberal enough might also suggest to Democrats that those voters will wind up supporting Democratic candidates by election day."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 8-10, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Enough

    Ofcourse, every loser who has nothing thinks the "rich" should support them. Why should the rich pay for everyone else? If they earned it, is their right to keep some of it, not support you losers who are to lazy to support yourself.

    January 14, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. valwayne

    What kind of poll was this? All the polls shows a large majority of the American people are totally opposed to all of these plans!!!

    January 14, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Nea

    Either way it have to be paid for somebody have to flip the bill. And we are tired of the poor paying for the rich way of life.

    January 14, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Jim

    I favor taxing the rich. They have gotten too greedy since Ronald Reagan got elected and want to much of the pie. We need to invest in our country and they should pay what they used to pay because it benefits them the most.

    January 14, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. John D.

    Sure they do. What will happen when taxing the wealthy creates a mass exodus of the wealthy and they take all the jobs they would create with them. Who is left to pay all these taxes everyone wants to impose just so the TAX AND SPEND crowd can continue with their redistribution of wealth and wasteful spending. What jobs will be left!

    The US Congress is drunk with our money and they need to stop. Cuts will have to be made. No more money for marsh mice. Stop the ignorance and stop wastful spending, NOW!

    January 14, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Ken

    Unfortuately if most americans had their way the "rich" would be pay more in taxes then they earn. For example:

    * Do you favor the rich paying more taxes to support better schools? Yes
    * Do you favor the rich paying more taxes to help the poor? Yes
    * Do you favor the rich paying more taxes so that we can lower the taxes on the middle class? Yes
    * And of course should the rich pay more to fund health care? Yes

    The top 5% of americans pay 61% of all the federal income taxes while the bottom 50% only pay 3%. And yet most americans want to tax the top 5% more. It's really sad that this has happened to our country where we feel that folks better off then we are should be responsible for making our lives better.

    January 14, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Independent_me

    Tax the wealthy.
    Middle class Americans have been subsidizing the wealthy through special tax breaks hoping that we would get some crumbs from them (Regan's trickle-down economics).
    Its time they giver back some of what they have stolen from us in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy.

    Tax the wealthy!

    January 14, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Carla

    This administration will not stop until the American dream is dead and gone. Taxxing and punishing success is not the way to run a country.

    January 14, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. precious

    And these wealthy people should hirer less people, stop giving raises and bonuses, so that they can pay these higher taxes. Welcome to CHANGE!

    January 14, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. Massachusetts Conservative

    "And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday also indicates that most Americans don't register either a strong negative or positive reaction to the bills."

    This is because most American have absolutely no idea what either bill says. Excellent transparency.

    January 14, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Bob in Pa

    These Democrats need to stop monkeying around and get out of our lives. No New Taxes, No Tax Increases, and No Fees period !

    Taxing anybody because they can "afford" it is counterproductive in any society.

    If you tax health care plans, then you are raising the cost of health care and will be lowering the quality of care because people will be forces to select plans that cover less.

    Both approaches should be considered a punitive tax and declared unconstitutional.

    January 14, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Marko,TX

    Americans are sick and tired of the weathy racking in the $$$ mostly due to scams across America. Think about it...

    January 14, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. normajean

    Considering the write-offs and angles that can be played with a good attorney at your beck and call, I think the wealthy should be the ones with a higher tax bracket. The little guy is just barely paying his bills and the wealthy can cut corners and hardly be touched.

    January 14, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. MT

    I don't think it will matter what the American Public wants. That's not how it works anymore.

    Unfortunately the American Public is not a special interest group.

    January 14, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    IF we are spending from 15% to 25% or higher of our annual incomes on private insurance premiums, why don't we just tax every income "with no limit" at a lower rate? For example, 10% or even lower.

    Personally, I don't think it's fair to tax any single group to fund health care. Currently, our Medicare Tax Rate is 1.45% on the worker's income with no limit and 1.45% on their employer.

    January 14, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    "The number who oppose the bills because they are not liberal enough might also suggest to Democrats that those voters will wind up supporting Democratic candidates by election day." ... ah yes, the hose job to progressives by creating the "Private Health Insurance Subsidy Act". We will at least cover more Americans but we are basically giving money to private health carriers. People don't understand that the public option WAS the compromise. Now we are just required to pay money to a private company. Super.

    January 14, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. MikeH

    Do it.

    These Plutocratic traitors need to pay for what they did to trash America

    January 14, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Jay T.

    And you can include me. We've shouldered the burden long enough.

    January 14, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Marilyn

    And when the "wealthy, high income" people run out of money, what will you do? Or when they just get fed up with paying for everything, what will you do? As was once said, "the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money". There are people in this country who won't be happy until no one has any money!

    January 14, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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