January 14th, 2010
11:51 AM ET
8 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. sifto77

    CNN–you don't get it-Obama and co. do not care what the majority think–we all know that the middle class will pay no matter what the dems do...when you aim at the rich–you always hit the middle class–the rich provide jobs......remember?

    January 14, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I agree, this bill is too liberal, is too Independent, is awful! But to be fair, I'm confused by it and by these numbers, seems like every American is as well.

    Is easy for me to say that we should tax the wealthy, after all, we have a right and say, we are most powerful than anybody else. Is a very, very big favorite and arguably since forvever. Is true, we find displaced aggression against those who we feel are superior to us and inferior as well. It may not show good comprehensive idealogy but this is tough times, tax the wealth!!

    And there's evidence to support this.

    January 14, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  3. C Spurgeon

    I think both should be taxed. Why are we subsidizing caddilac plans. Unions with idiot benefits need to share in recovery also, I also think the Bush tax cuts need to expire early also and then maybe we can get out of these Republican wars....and fight terrorism in more logical ways than putting our troops out in front of Islam Wackos...

    January 14, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Mike1952

    The poll indicates that most Americans don't seem to have an extreme position on the healthcare proposals? I haven't talked to one person who DOESN'T have an extreme position one way or the other.

    CNN must use voodoo to poll people.

    One number I do think may be valid is that only 10% think these proposals are too conservative. Considering that only 20% of the voting populace call themselves liberal that number sounds believeable.

    January 14, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Hope A. Dope

    TRANSLATION: The unions pushed back strongly enough to force Democrats to back away from taxing union cadillac plans.

    C'mon people, wake up and smell the BS!

    January 14, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Speaking for Liberals

    But what about the wealthy? If we tax them, then prices will go up for the rest of us! WAAH WHAAAH!!! SOMEBODY PROTECT THE WEALTHY PEOPLE FROM THE EVIL TAX MAN! The evil tax man who wants to make the rich slightly less rich
    *end sarcasm*
    But you know somebody will make this argument

    January 14, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Mark

    It will be what ever the unions want, they pull obama's strings

    January 14, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Dr. Mike

    Definition of liberal " liberal will give away everything he does not own"

    January 14, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. shmeckell

    Well if you want to lower costs it does not make sense to raise the costs for some. Then again taxing the rich usually just raises the price of the goods they sell, but it is a lot harder to tell exactly how much more everyone is paying and politicians usually favor this idea because they can convince people they got something for nothing.

    January 14, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Ohio D

    Whatever is passed, we will ALL get screwed...

    January 14, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Gary, Los Angeles

    Not fair to the wealthy. They pay the majority of the taxes already. Why don't we CUT spending for programs that are being ABUSED every day in our country.

    January 14, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    What a greedy, grasping, petty, lot those 61% are!

    January 14, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but......

    How come they never poll the public on how many are in favor of a public option? Also, union bashing seems to be all the rage these days. Y'all realize that it's breaking the unions which started under Ronny Rayguns that signaled the beginning of the end of the American middle class. Why don't we eliminate the police, fire and corrections unions? Surely they're evil destroyers of America too. Have a nice day!

    January 14, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. liberal wingnut

    Yes that would be good for our economy while in a deep recession.

    January 14, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    Give you one guess as to one aspect of the health care reform bill that might be getting changed...

    "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."

    I've been saying this ALL ALONG. Enjoy the public option GOPers...who knows, someday you might need it.

    January 14, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Ben in Texas

    The rich have had wealth redistributed to them through graft, tax loopholes and subsidies for far too long. It's time to redistribute it in the other direction. They have sponged off the rest of us and been on welfare to such a degree that middle class folks are falling into poverty more everyday. A tiny fraction of the population now owns an enormous piece of the economic pie.

    Tax the rich back to the Stone Age! We don't need a rich aristocracy in this country.

    January 14, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    why don't we just have a national sales tax and do away with all the income tax crap???

    January 14, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. mark

    sure tax those who are sucessful rather than taking responsibility for yourself welcome to the USSA comrades!

    January 14, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Obama 2.0

    Taxing the rich in this case does nothing to bring the cost of HC down. the other tax on Caddy plans does.

    January 14, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. MatthewDetroit


    THERE IS not enough money when you tax the wealthy.
    The entire Health Plan is a joke.
    It is a money grab by big goverment.
    They want to control ALL the money and ALL your freedoms.
    All the idiot UNION BROTHERS that voted for Barack should wake up.

    You people think you are safe from Democrats and their taxes...
    The "as long as the other guy pays for it" mentality has to go.

    Rich poor or middleclass... we are all screwed by barack and pelosi.

    January 14, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Doug

    just over 1000 Americans?

    How can a poll like that be used with such large headlines-

    was it 20 people per state? 13 metro, 7 rural?

    How many polled made over 100K? ( Outside of people employed in the public sector or by unions)

    Many of the people who would say they were against this crap were probably out working and to busy to participate in this farce.

    January 14, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Stop the Nonsense

    And so its starts- them , not me.
    Is it becuase so many people either have free high-end policies through private employers, union cintract or the goverment? Or, is it becuase they don;t relaize what a high-end polcy is?
    Tax the high-end policies – maybe thorugh the insurnace companies as excessive profits AND tax the ultra rich to help the deficit.
    Recently I have begun to realize that so many of those that complain about being taxed on earnings or inheritance over a certain level, didn't really EARN the money as much as WON IT. Stock investments are the same as gambling. This is not done from hard work, but from placing a bet that the stock would go up and reaping the benefits if it does. They are also able to write-off the losses (something you can't do with gmabling unless you win)
    Most very wealthy families got there wealth form these same type of actions, not from any business venture.

    January 14, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. TomInRochNY

    When you don't have health insurance, can't affprd the medicine or can't pay your copays because you're out of a job you can't be too enthusiastic about it. It's the economy, stupid!

    January 14, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. joe smith

    how many did they poll..20

    January 14, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Dutch the Great

    Tax the top 2%. If the Bush tax cuts aren't repealed, taxing them on healthcare is the best way to get this bill paid for. The days of trickle down economics are over!

    In the words of Frank White(King of New York), "If a nickel bag gets sold in the park, I want in. You guys got rich while the rest of starved."

    January 14, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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