More than two thirds of Americans oppose the imposition of a Value-Added Tax, according to a new poll released Tuesday which also shows that voters, by a two-to-one margin, think the government needs to rein in its rate of spending.
“Voters think a VAT is a bad idea by 67 to 21 percent,” says the polling memo written by veteran Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, for the group Resurgent Republic.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters found that even among Democrats, 53 percent think a VAT is a bad idea, versus 31 percent who think it’s a good one. Among Independents, 67 were opposed and 19 were in favor, while 82 percent of Republicans opposed the European-style consumption tax, with 12 percent in favor.
Public discussion of a VAT has increased in recent weeks as President Obama’s fiscal commission has held its first meeting and the debate over how to fix the nation’s surging deficit and debt has begun to make its way out of the think tanks and into the political arena.
But those who might be in favor of a VAT are by no means embracing it wholeheartedly. Obama adviser Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve Chairman under President Carter and President Reagan, has more than once said a VAT should be considered, even while acknowledging the political difficulties involved in pursuing it.
Yet a recommendation of a VAT by the fiscal commission, which will issue a report after this fall’s midterm elections, could give the White House the political cover it would want to begin discussing such a measure.
And members of the commission have already said that higher taxes are inevitably going to be part of the solution they propose.
The Resurgent Republic survey asked respondents about their views on the VAT after giving them these two options:
A value added tax is a good idea. It could raise billions of dollars in new revenue for the federal government, reduce the federal deficit without raising income taxes, and would be paid only by people who purchase certain products.
A value added tax is a bad idea for America. It would be a massive hidden tax that would not appear on a bill, it would increase the price of almost everything, it would be paid primarily by the middle class, and it would hurt our economic recovery.
The poll also found that while the economy remains the number one issue on voters’ minds, other issues like health care and government spending have become more prominent. Last year, a RR survey found 57 percent said the economy was their top priority, while this year that number was down to 38 percent.
Amending or repealing Obama’s recently passed health law was supported by 72 percent of voters, with 53 percent of Independents saying they oppose the law.
Even Democrats survey agreed with an overwhelming number of Independents and Republicans that the health law is going to reduce quality of care and increase spending and costs.
One of the results heralded most loudly in Gillespie’s memo was the fact that 61 percent of Independents polled said the Congress is too dominated by Democrats and that “Republicans are needed to provide a check and balance.”
Gillespie also signaled that the issue of government worker pay – with wages for the public sector outpacing private sector pay – may become more of a GOP talking point in the coming months. The survey found that 62 percent of voters think this development is a bad thing, with only 19 percent saying it’s a good thing.
And, Gillespie noted, “the fact that 19 percent answered ‘don’t know’ to the question indicates that further public discussion of the fact may be warranted.”
By nearly two to one, (59 percent to 34 percent), those polled said reducing spending should be the government’s priority, rather than increasing stimulus spending to help the economy recover.
Notably, 43 percent of those surveyed said they support a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would include a “path to citizenship” for immigrants currently in the country illegally, while 24 percent said they support a temporary worker program but not a path to citizenship.
Only 24 percent of those polled said they wanted the government to focus on border security and do nothing to deal with the roughly 12 to 20 million immigrants already in the country illegally.