All-America Economic Survey

Trump's plan to slash business taxes isn't a top priority for regular people

Key Points
  • Business taxes rank low in a list of eight priorities among Americans
  • Americans care less about tax cuts generally than they care about deficits
President-elect Donald Trump points to his supporters during his 'Thank You' rally at Crown Coliseum on December 6, 2016 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
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President Donald Trump's plans to cut business taxes not only faces an uphill battle in Congress, but also with the American public.

Polling data taken before any specifics of his plans were known show that while a majority approves of his general idea to cut business taxes, it doesn't rate very high on their priority list.

The CNBC All-American Survey of 804 people throughout the country, conducted earlier this month, found that 54 percent agreed with Trump's plans to reduce business taxes, compared with 36 percent who opposed it and 10 percent who did not have an opinion or were unsure.

All-America Survey: Rating the Trump agenda

But that was well below the 75 percent who support infrastructure spending and the 64 percent who support the president's plans to cut individual taxes. Twenty-eight percent strongly agreed with his business tax cut plans and 19 percent strongly disagreed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Asked to choose one or two top priorities, the public ranked business tax cuts just sixth of eight options. Thirty-four percent said the leading priority should be "keeping jobs from going overseas," while only 11 percent chose "cutting taxes for business."

To be sure, the poll was taken before specifics of the president's plan were known — some level of information on his tax plan is expected on Wednesday — and the president, along with many economists and business leaders, has argued that a competitive business tax structure is critical to keeping companies and jobs from moving offshore. So the poll suggests that the president will have to make a strong case tied to jobs and growth in order to garner support and potentially gain leverage in Congress for his plan.

A bigger concern: Deficits

But he'll have another problem: deficits. The president is not expected to explain on Wednesday how he'll offset the revenue that will be lost by cutting business taxes. Reducing the deficits ranks higher in the poll than cutting business taxes in the list of the public priorities. And when asked to choose directly between cutting the deficit or generally cutting taxes, 39 percent of the public said the deficit is more important, compared with 22 percent who said cutting taxes.

Reducing business taxes has overwhelming support among Republicans at 81 percent, and majority support among independents at 55 percent. Democrats oppose it by a 32 percent to 59 percent margin.

Given a list of priorities, including infrastructure spending, deregulation and repealing health care, Republicans rank business tax cuts fifth. Independents and Democrats rank it sixth among eight options.

While the president has many disagreements with mainstream experts on a host of economic issues, the separate CNBC Fed Survey shows that polled economists, fund managers and analysts have consistently given the president's plans to cut business taxes high marks, well above those for cutting individual taxes.

Correction: This story was revised to correct the percentage of those opposed to the plan to cut business taxes: 10 percent did not have an opinion or were unsure. It also corrected that 28 percent strongly agreed with the plan and 19 percent strongly disagreed.