78%: If my employer gets a tax cut, I won’t see a pay raise

December 1, 2017

More than three-quarters (78%) of working American adults say they do not believe they will get a raise if their employers enjoy a tax cut from Republican-driven legislation that will come to a vote in the U.S. Congress within the next few days.

Specifically, in a national survey of 9,504 adults conducted earlier this month on behalf of The New York Times by SurveyMonkey, even 70% of self-identified Republicans—and roughly 65% of respondents who said they strongly approved of President Trump’s performance in office — said they didn’t think they would get a pay increase.

Conversely, Republican legislators have staunchly contended that their plan to cut corporate taxes will increase wages for American workers. For example, The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report, “Corporate Tax Reform and Wages: Theory and Evidence,” last month that estimated that the proposed corporate tax cut would increase a typical U.S. household’s income by $3,000 to $7,000 a year — a claim many independent economists have dismissed as unrealistic.

However, fully 85% of Independents and Democrats don’t think they will see a salary hike.

“There’s this widespread disbelief among Republicans, as there is among Democrats and Independents, that tax cuts for employers will rebound to their pocketbooks,” said Jon Cohen, vice president of Survey Research for SurveyMonkey.

Americans’ views of the tax plan in general are more divided. The Times survey, which was conducted in early November, found that 52 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the plan, compared with 44 percent who said they supported it. (The survey did not distinguish between the House and Senate versions of the plan.) That is generally in line with other polls, although some have put support for the plan significantly lower.

In general, opinions of the Republican plan split predictably along partisan lines. More than 80 percent of Republicans said they supported the plan, and more than 80 percent of Democrats said they opposed it. Most Republicans likewise said they believed that they would benefit personally from the plan, while few Democrats believed the same.

The strong overall support for the bill among Republicans masks significant disagreement beneath the surface, however. The survey showed that support for the plan was much stronger among Republicans who considered themselves “very conservative” than those who considered themselves conservative or moderate. And many moderate Republicans and independents said they were less interested in cutting taxes than in reducing the federal budget deficit, a potential trouble spot for a bill that most analyses suggest could add $1 trillion or more to the deficit.

Republicans still have time to win over skeptics. Only about a quarter of respondents to the Times survey said they were paying close attention to the tax plan. But in a potential sign of trouble for the bill, people who said they were watching the process closely were more likely to oppose it — and to oppose it strongly — than those paying less attention.

Research contact:  @bencasselman

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