Republicans really want to cut the corporate tax rate. It's the centerpiece of every plan they have released, and they've spent weeks floating wildly unpopular ways to pay for it.
There's just one problem: It's really unpopular — even among Republican voters.
Just 60 percent of registered voters think corporations pay "too little" in taxes, according to a September poll from Morning Consult and Politico, surveying a little under 2,000 Americans. A more recent Morning Consult and Politico survey from October found only 39 percent of Americans think it should be part of the tax plan — with 59 percent of Republican voters supporting it. Another poll from Pew Research Center showed that 53 percent of Republicans think corporate tax rates should either be raised or stay the same.
But confronted with these numbers, House and Senate Republicans seemed unfazed.
"Who cares?" Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said before I had a chance to say what the polls showed.
Others said they didn't believe the numbers.
"I don't believe that poll," Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) said. "I don't believe it. It's in all of our best interest to have these tax cuts for corporations..."
Lowering the corporate tax from its current 35 percent to 20 percent, as Republicans are proposing to boost economic growth, is costly — the Tax Policy Center estimates it would cost the country $2 trillion over the next 10 years. But it also has potential to be politically expensive.
James Wallner, a fellow at the conservative R Street Institute think tank and former executive director of the Senate Steering Committee, tweeted that it "isn't ideal" for the GOP that only 59 percent of Republicans support cutting the corporate tax rate — the proposal's popularity will likely drop more as more details emerge about the various ways Republicans plan to pay for cutting the corporate rate, Wallner pointed out.
"Those aren't polls of my constituents," said Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), who sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
If there is a political cost to this proposal, one thing is clear: Republicans either don't believe it's true or they just don't care.
Vox interviewed eight congressional Republicans Wednesday about the unpopularity of the corporate tax rate. Transcripts of those conversations follow, lightly edited for length and clarity.