January 14th, 2010
11:51 AM ET
5 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. Obama Victim

    if extending coverage for all is something that we,as a country should do, then we all should pay for it.....if it is a good idea, then we all pay our share............unfair for just one group of people to bear the burden..if it is something the entire country should do..then the entire country should pay for it

    January 14, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    When is America going to face the reality, that the wealthy only comprise 10% of the population?

    The wealthy aren't populace enough to pay for the health care. That is an Obama deception.

    The cost will be borne by the middle class, as it always has been, for programs to serve the poor.

    January 14, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Truth Teller

    Agreed, let it be the price of being wealthy. If I were wealthy, I wouldn't mind paying the extra tax so that my fellow man can have decent healthcare.

    January 14, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. dave

    What's the news here? 57% oppose the bill, but if congress passes it then they want someone else to pay for it.

    January 14, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. dave

    Everyone wants change but no one wants to pay for it. Typical minority responses, "we's wants it alls, buts we want the white mans to pays for its"

    January 14, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. TOTUS 4 President

    The slippery slope to certain ruin. The "majority" willl always opt for SOMEONE ELSE (i.e. the "rich" minority) to pay for their "free stuff". Unfortunately the story about the golden goose is no longer told in state-controlled socialistic American schools any more.

    This is no more American than it is for the other 49 states to pay for Nebraska's free ride on Medicare costs just so that the corrupt racist Harry Reid can bribe Ben Nelson for his vote...

    Communist states always start down this path, and look at where they ALWAYS end up.

    January 14, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. beth

    Amen... a tax surcharge on the wealthy to take care of the less fortunate.....a great idea!!! By the way, that cap on taxable Social Security wages also needs to be removed.

    January 14, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom

    At the risk of not having my comment posted...... I quote Jesus......

    "To whom much is given, much is asked."

    January 14, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Should I believe a billionaire on am radio

    I feel so sorry for the rich,lets give them a tube of ointment and a box of tissues.

    January 14, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Trang

    Taxing health care is a stupid idea. Health care already cost money and now, they want to put a tax on it.

    If they have to raise revenue, I prefer they tax on the wealthy. I don't have anything against the wealthy, but they are wealthy and they can afford it w/o little dent on their lifestyle. They probably already feel blessed and don't mind helping out their struggling fellow human beings ... except for those who get wealthy by lying and cheating.

    January 14, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. gt

    do both.. those with the super high end plans need to help those at the bottom... everyone needs to do there share,,,

    January 14, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. John Black Hills/SD

    Obama told us last year that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share of the load that would rest on the lower classes in the USA. I would remove the taxable limit on social security that the wealthy are getting away with. The USA is looking more like India with every day that passes, and the lower classes will harbor the western version of the untouchables.

    January 14, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Danny

    It's about time for some genuine class warfare. For the last 10 years the wealthy have grown wealthier while the middle-class and poor have grown poorer. During the 80's and 90's the middle-class were upwardly mobile and took no notice of the wealth disparity because they were earning good wages, but with the "Great Recession" hitting them in their wallets the anger level is rising to a point where politicians will have to take notice and make some adjustments to the taxation formulas.

    January 14, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. guest55

    if it looks like socialism to you, you are correct. Taxing the wealthy heavier so that the rights of every American to the basic provisions to life are available, including healthcare, food and shelter, can be met is not only desirable but indeed wonderful.

    January 14, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. D-Nice

    So a majority (54%) of America supports a public option. And an overwhelming majority (61%) favors a tax on wealthy Americans as opposed to working-class Americans, including a majority of wealthy Americans themselves.

    Someone remind me why we keep watering down these bills?

    If I didn't know better, I'd say Lieberman was purposely sabotaging this effort to benefit the party that he may soon join.

    January 14, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    How about another method to cut taxes?
    Try Cutting Spending, spend less, save more, Hmmmmmmmmm?

    January 14, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Duck Fallas

    All hail the wealthy, our benevolent benefactors. We exist only by their grace. Tax them not, for excess and greed is their God given right.

    Work harder to support their empires, lazy American dogs!!

    January 14, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. kc3

    Let the bunch of fat cats pay for the legislation..

    January 14, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. joe m

    if americans want to be serious about actual reform choosing one option ove the other is not acceptable. change comes when everyone does their part and pays their share of the burden. to say that the better way is to simply tax the rich is doing nothing more than playing the same old political games. if politicians give in to this opinion they prove themselves nothing more than cowards who sway with the political winds. tax the rich and tax the rest as well to make up for the cost. anyone who speaks of change must have the courage to speak the truth; and truth is that we all must share the burden of this change.

    January 14, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Silence Dogoode

    Why should the wealthy pay for givernment funded welfare? there should be a flat tax...no government funded health care...term limits and no more federal funded welfare...that should all be left to the states per the US constitution....why do I have to work 2 jobs to pay for my way when a bunch of freeloders get food, shelter and health care for free, so they can sit on their butts, watch TV, smoke, watch Jerry Springer and Oprah, pop out kids they neglect and ignore and do nothing but eat, copulate and take up space?

    January 14, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. Guest

    Perfect example of the "I don't have what you have so I am for bringing you down" populus movement that is sweeping the lazy do nothings that make up the liberal left

    January 14, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. Tom in Delaware

    Ah yes, a poll, this must be the one the Liberals have been waiting for....

    They totally ignore all the polls that say to scrap this Health Care Abortion and START OVER.

    Now they've got one they like they'll be quoting this like a preacher quotes the Bible.

    January 14, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Ignorant Liberal

    YOU MEAN SLOBBERING LOSERS WANT TO STEAL THE MONEY OF PRODUCERS THROUGH THE GUN OF THE IRS??

    WOW, SHOCKING!!!

    Question..............what are you libtards gonna do when you run out of productive people's money to steal from?

    January 14, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Jane/Seattle

    The Wealthy need to be taxed for their overwhelming use of these, OUR Commons. They are also artificially given TAX BREAKs so they can keep their MONEY and WE ALL CAN DO The Paying for their WISHES. One MORE THING here: THE Wealthy RULING CLASSES, (even though this is not a class society, Laughing here!) use the WEALTH that we all PRODUCE for their own selfish MEANS, Slap us in the Teeth and call this the LAW OF This Land! That would be why these foot soldiers fight so hard against the little old UNIONS, the ones that they have been destroying for years in law and policy! How could they all keep the bulk of the BUCKS if we got some more? IT is fundamentally called Capitalism, but I like to call it Predatory-ism cuz Competition definitely AIN"T COOPERATION, FOLKS! WE do 99.9% of the real WORK and they get 99.9% of the MONEY! Now this is the POINT!

    January 14, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Kevin in Ohio

    Most people still don't realize that 70% of taxes ALREADY come from the weathiest 1%, and 90% of the taxes come from the wealthiest 5%. And they don't understand that the "high end" plans not targeted for taxation are the plans the Unions forced on their industries. Most people do not understand basic economics. Most people are just ignorant......

    January 14, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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