Americans have already made up their minds about the tax bill -- and it looks brutal for the GOP

  • The polling data on the Republican tax bill looks dismal for the GOP.
  • On average, 33% of Americans approve of the bill and 52% disapprove, according to the data-journalism site FiveThirtyEight.
  • GOP leaders have said the bill will gain popularity once it becomes law.

Republicans are on the verge of passing the most significant overhaul of the federal tax code in a generation, but it looks set to become law amid lacklustre reviews from people they say it will benefit.

A vote in the House and Senate on the final bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is expected as early as Tuesday. President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have touted their plan as focused on the middle class – but recent polls have found that many Americans aren’t buying it.

Most people surveyed say they don’t think the plan will benefit their situation or the US more broadly.

A Monmouth University poll released on Monday found that just 26% of Americans say they approve of the plan, while 47% say they disapprove.

A CNN survey released Tuesday found that 33% supported the bill and 55% opposed it.

The legislation is also not playing well in some of the country’s political swing areas. The Monmouth poll found that in counties that Trump or Hillary Clinton, his Democratic challenger, won by less than 10 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, 30% of people say they approve of the bill and 38% say they disapprove.

The data-journalism site FiveThirtyEight found that the average approval rating for the bill in polls conducted in December was 33%. Meanwhile, 52% said they disapproved of the legislation – good for a net -19 approval rating.

It’s less popular than some tax increases

According to FiveThirtyEight, the dismal approval rating makes this plan the least popular tax bill in at least 30 years – even less so than two in the 1990s that increased some taxes.

Despite the dismal reviews, Republican leaders have remained upbeat.

“When you have a slingfest, a mudfest on TV, when pundits are slamming each other about this tax bill before it’s even passed, that’s what’s going to happen,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a press conference Tuesday.

He added: “But when we get this done, when people see their withholding improving, when they see the jobs occurring, when they see bigger paychecks, a fair tax system, a simpler tax code, that’s what going to produce the results. Results are going to make this popular.”

Republicans have acknowledged that most Americans think the bill will increase their taxes – 50% of people surveyed in the Monmouth poll, for example, said they expected that. But most analyses have found that most Americans’ tax burdens will decrease in the near term.

Whether Americans would notice is another question. FiveThirtyEight pointed out that the number of people who thought tax cuts enacted under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush would help the rich more than the middle class increased after those plans passed.

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