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. Sam Sixpack

    Why do you suddenly care what the majority think?

    January 14, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. stevegee

    We can't ask the wealthy to provide a better lifestyle for the rest of us. Even if all of their assets were seized by government, it wouldn't be enough!

    It's time for all Americans to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make their own way in the world. Government entitlements are what's wrong with this country. Look where they've helped take us: obscene deficits, and unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security (they're both insolvent!).

    Our founding fathers dedicated their lives to ensuring we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest is up to you!

    January 14, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    I can live with taxing the wealthy more than health insurance plans. They don't like it, what they going to do move to a modern industrialized nation that taxes less, dont think so, US taxes are pretty low compared to the rest of the modern world.

    January 14, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Scott, Tucson

    I'm certainly am not rich but regardless what the democrats calls this tax, this is nothing more than stealing other people money. And are you really so gullible to believe that any taxes taken from the rich would go towards health care as the dems would have you believe?
    if a UAW worker can earn $60-$75 in wages and benefits than they can sure afford to pay for their own health plan. To help the the truly poor and ACORN folks, sell off Nancy Pelsoi luxury government jets and use the money toward opening free health clinics.

    Sorry but no where in the Constitution does it say that Government shall provide you, your family and any illegals Health Care benefits.

    January 14, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Mike in SA

    Nice spin Paul. You should have led with saying almost 60% of Americans don't want this.

    January 14, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. aware

    More jobs gone! Mr genius(BO) is as dumb as a post – no common sense and no wisdom! 😦

    January 14, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Rational policy now

    Rollback the tax cuts from the 80's on!

    January 14, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. paddyb

    WOW – what a shocking idea....more taxes on the wealthy....because no one can think of any other way to pay for this plan. Step by step we move closer to a country where everyone will be taxed at 40% and higher tax rates to pay for more services....This is like the bail out tax....Many banks did not want the bail out money, but where forced to take it....then the gov't screams at them and taxes them. Many banks did not want to lend to people who had no business buying homes, but they where forced to....then the gov'tr screams at them and taxes them....I am sensing a trend here. Thank goodness most liberal can't remember what they say from one minute to the next...other wise their conscience might get in the way....

    January 14, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Sam Sixpack

    The majority has caught on and wants this health care scam stopped. Why can't the truth be printed about that? Couldn't get approval from China?

    January 14, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. RJ

    If this poll is correct the American people has decided, after two tax cuts it's time for the RICH to ante up !!!

    January 14, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Matt

    How can you vote to raise someone else's taxes? That's theft. , you fools. You're basically hiring the federal government to hold a gun to someone else's head and say, "Give all YOUR money that YOU earned to people who didn't earn it!" You're going to end up taxing many of the people who provide you with a job, which means profit margins will be squeazed or disappear and more jobs will be purged to keep companies afloat. Wake up! Let's pretend that income tax is Constitutional and necessary (we got along just fine without one for over the first 100+ years, during which it was only implemented to pay for wars...). No one should pay a different percentage of their income. That means Bush was wrong, and Obama is wrong now. How about we drop income tax altogether (or at least decrease it) and people will have more money in their pockets to find it themselves, and then work on legislation that prevents an insurance company from dropping you after you've paid? Seems simple enough! That much both parties agree on, so talking about any other nonsense is only delaying real progress.

    January 14, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Steve, New York City

    If the government is going to continue "pumping" this populist rhetoric time and again. . . at least this time, tax the SUPER-RICH (people pulling in over $10 million/year) . . .Warren Buffett said that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her income in taxes than he does.

    If one looks at the statistics, the "simply affluent" are already over-taxed (thanks to Bush '43).

    January 14, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Monster Zero

    I'm for taxing our Congress, they are the only ones with a great job, unending staffs, monstrous expense accounts, never ending penison and healthcare plans and zero accountability or responsibility...

    January 14, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Stephen614

    How many 'wealthy' people did they poll? The group labeled as "the preference of people making $100,000 a year or more" doesn't hardly cut it either. Tell me how many people making $250,000.00 a year or more believe that's the way it should go (taxing the 'rich')! Plus, knowing how they do polls and how people respond...the $100,000 probably represents a household...with two union members...you're at $100k+!

    January 14, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Jay

    Tax the wealthy!

    January 14, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    "Majority support taxing wealthy rather than high end plans"......wonder how those very wealthy Hollyweirds, politicians and folks that play sports feel about this. My guess is the Hollyweirds are upset for sure because many of them were the ones out campaigning for "Hope and Change"

    January 14, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Capt. Snarky

    Yeah, there we go. Sock it to the rich folk some more. That'll learn em to start businesses, provide jobs, grow the economy...........

    January 14, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Ronald E Miller

    i'm in favior of the house plan because the rich were the ones to benifit from the bush taxcuts over the last 7 or 8 years,it is time to try and help the middleclass.

    January 14, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but......

    Oh no! If we tax the rich, how will they create all of those great jobs like they did when W gave them their last round of tax cuts? Have a nice day!

    January 14, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Texas Granny

    Tax the wealthy, tax the weathly- well, BS.
    We are considered by the IRS to be "weathly". Well, let me tell you, there's a big difference in what we make and "wealthy". We live in the same house we've been in for 20+ years, we drive a 10 year old car, we don't eat at fancy restaurants, and most of my shopping is done at Wal-Mart. One of the reasons- we pay almost 38% of our income in federal taxes!!!! Add in state sales taxes & all the crazy fees in TX, and we barely walk away with HALF of what we "supposedly" make each year.
    I am SICK TO DEATH OF BEING TAXED TO PAY FOR EVERYBODY ELSE!!!! I am all for health care reform (God knows we need some help ourselves) but I am fed up with "tax the weathly".

    January 14, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Dan

    The majority of people say take someone else's money to pay my bills ?!?! This really isn't shocking. Pathetic and predictable, yes. Let's tax the rich to pay for my cable bill, too. This is where democracy fails ...

    January 14, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. cane

    This is not health care we can believe in as promised during the election. Too many cooks spoil the soup. Too many greedy fingers stir the pot.
    The best that can be said for it – it's a start, albeit not a very good one.

    January 14, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. ObamasRecordDefict

    Sure, raise taxes. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    Morons always want someone else to pay.

    If you get new taxes, cheat on your taxed. REVOLT, do not accept this socialist agenda.

    January 14, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Texas Liberal

    Thank you cnn, for finally showing a reflection of Americans who have true common sense. We need to scrap this idea of the "trickle down" system. Just look at the banks and their bonuses, all the while still withholding loans to small businesses... It's time this country wakes up and realizes that the wealthy do not do S**T for the country, and that REAL wealth is having a country of healthy and educated people.

    January 14, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    Makes sense to me. Kinda hard to tax unemployed and poor.

    Why not tax H1-b Visa holders at a higher rate? They took my job and left me unemployed.

    January 14, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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