54% say Trump's budget proposals do more to help the rich, 35% the middle class
Almost six in 10 say economic growth should be a priority over deficit reduction
President Donald Trump last week floated the first kernels of his budget proposal for the coming year, and a new CNN/ORC poll finds the public sides with the President on tax cuts for the middle class and increased spending on infrastructure.
They disapprove, however, of his plans to increase military spending and fund the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
The poll results come about a week after Trump outlined some of his budget proposals in an address to a joint session of Congress. A budget request for 2018 is expected to reach Congress on March 16.
Trump’s most popular budget proposals include reducing taxes for middle-class Americans (84% approve) and increasing spending on infrastructure (79% approve). Fewer favor reducing tax rates for American businesses (54% approve), and majorities disapprove of funding for a border wall with Mexico (61%) or increasing military spending by cutting finding for the State Department, EPA and other non-defense agencies (58%).
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More than seven in 10 Republicans say they support each of the five tested proposals, while among Democrats, just two have majority support (reducing tax rates for the middle class and increasing spending on infrastructure).
Most independents approve of those tax reductions and increased infrastructure spending, as well as reducing the tax rates paid by American businesses, but majorities of independents disapprove of border wall funding and increased military spending.
The large gaps between whites with college degrees and those without – the same gaps that may have determined the outcome of the 2016 election – emerge again here in reaction to some of Trump’s proposals. Whites without degrees are more apt to favor increased military spending and funding for the border wall with Mexico than are those who do hold four-year degrees. There aren’t large gaps between the two groups on the other three measures tested.
And with a plurality of Americans rating the economy as the top issue facing the country, most say that economic growth should be a higher priority than reducing the federal budget deficit. That suggests finding ways to pay for the increased spending in Trump’s proposal may not prove to be a problem for the administration if it can demonstrate economic growth.
Overall, 57% say economic growth should be a priority over trimming the federal budget deficit, while 40% say the focus should be on reducing the deficit even if it risks limiting economic growth. That sentiment crosses party lines, with 60% of Democrats, 57% of independents and 52% of Republicans saying they would prioritize growth over cutting deficits.
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Looking at the broad-brush impact of Trump’s proposals, 54% say they generally do more to help the rich, 35% that they do more to help the middle class and just 7% that they do more to help the poor. Here, too, the divide among whites by education stands out: 58% of those with degrees say Trump’s proposals do more to help the rich vs. just 42% of whites without degrees, while 46% of whites without degrees feel they help the middle class vs. 32% of those with degrees.
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted March 1 through 4 among a random national sample of 1,025 adults. Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Error margins are larger for subgroups.