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Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans say 'trickle-down economics have never worked in America'

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A plurality of Republican voters reject the party's longstanding beliefs on economics, according to a new national survey from Ipsos/Reuters released Thursday.

The poll found that self-identified Republicans were split on the question of whether tax cuts for the wealthy to encourage investment, hiring, and economic growth — a policy championed by President Ronald Reagan and characterized as "trickle-down economics" by its critics — actually works.

Surprisingly, 4 in 10 Republicans surveyed by Ipsos agreed with the statement that "trickle-down economics have never worked in America." Just 3 in 10 Republicans disagreed with that major challenge to Republican Party orthodoxy on tax policy.

Known as "Reaganomics" by its supporters, the theory that tax cuts benefit everyone has been fiercely attacked by Democrats and the left for decades. Tax cuts for the rich and corporations, leftists argue, increases income inequality without demonstrable benefits to unemployment or GDP growth.

A study released in 2020 by the London School of Economics that analyzed 50 years of economic data came to a conclusion that agreed with these criticisms. Comparing 18 developed countries, the study found that in countries that cut taxes the incomes of wealthy people increased but the rate of economic growth remained identical with countries that didn't cut taxes. The study's authors claimed the effect of the tax cuts was to make the rich richer without benefitting anyone else.

A strong majority of Democrats, 7 in 10, agreed that tax cuts for the wealthy have never worked while only 2 in 10 Democrats disagreed.

The pool of survey respondents slightly favored Democrats. The poll was conducted online and gathered responses from 1,000 U.S. adults, including 290 Republicans and 360 Democrats.

Overall, 51% of survey respondents said "trickle-down economics" never worked while 26% disagreed.

The poll was conducted after President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress, during which he proposed increasing taxes on wealthy Americans to pay for trillions of dollars in new spending on education, new welfare programs, infrastructure, and climate policy.

A strong majority of those surveyed, 73%, said they approved of Biden's economic proposals to Congress.

On the specific issues:

  • 69% of Americans support 12 weeks of mandated paid family and medical leave;
  • 65% support free community college tuition for the first two years;
  • 65% support increased taxes on the rich;
  • 64% support increased power for the IRS to go after corporations and wealthy people that dodge taxes;
  • 63% of those surveyed support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
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