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Tax Overhaul Gains Public Support, Buoying Republicans 

click to enlarge President Donald Trump signs a sweeping tax bill in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Dec. 22, 2017. Trump signed the bill that Republicans promise will benefit the middle class, despite warnings from Democrats that the new law could be harmful to the country. - DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • President Donald Trump signs a sweeping tax bill in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Dec. 22, 2017. Trump signed the bill that Republicans promise will benefit the middle class, despite warnings from Democrats that the new law could be harmful to the country.

By BEN CASSELMAN and JIM TANKERSLEY
© 2018 New York Times News Service

The tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law now has more supporters than opponents, buoying Republican hopes for this year’s congressional elections.

The growing public support for the law coincides with an eroding Democratic lead when voters are asked which party they would like to see control Congress. And it follows an aggressive effort by Republicans, backed by millions of dollars of advertising from conservative groups, to persuade voters of the law’s benefits.

Overall, 51 percent of Americans approve of the tax law, while 46 percent disapprove, according to a poll for The New York Times conducted Feb. 5-11 by SurveyMonkey. Approval has risen from 46 percent in January and 37 percent in December, when the law was passed.

Support has grown even among Democrats, from 8 percent just before the bill passed in December to 19 percent this month. For Democrats, running on opposition to the bill has become more of a political gamble, said Jon Cohen, chief research officer for SurveyMonkey.

Other recent polls have shown similar upswings for the law, including a Monmouth University Poll in late January that found support for it had risen to 44 percent nationally, from 26 percent in December.

The Times polling suggests that Americans are overestimating the degree to which the benefits of the law’s corporate tax cuts are flowing straight to workers — while underestimating the likelihood that the law will reduce their individual taxes.

Just under 1 in 5 respondents expect to see either a raise or a bonus thanks to the law’s business tax cuts. Early returns from public companies indicate that’s an overshot. Just Capital, a nonprofit research organization, analyzed the 90 largest public companies that have announced how they will spend the combined $45 billion in savings they stand to receive from the tax bill this year. It found that those companies planned to pass 6 percent of those savings directly on to workers, with more than half of that spending in one-time bonuses.

Only 1 in 3 respondents expect to receive a tax cut from the law. The independent Tax Policy Center in Washington estimates that 4 in 5 Americans will actually see a tax cut from the law this year, though that number is projected to shrink sharply in 2027 if individual tax cuts expire as scheduled in the law.
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