New Poll Shows Small-Business Owners Skeptical of GOP Tax Plan

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(Business owners reading from a laptop.)

BY EMMA DUMAIN

With the Senate planning to begin consideration of a Republican tax bill this week, a new coalition of small-business leaders wants to put lawmakers on notice that most of them don’t like the proposal.

Businesses for Responsible for Tax Reform is releasing a poll Monday, shared with McClatchy, showing that 51 percent of small businesses oppose the plan, while 34 percent expressly support it. The Nov. 17-18 survey of 794 small-business owners nationwide was conducted through automated telephone interviews.

Fifty-two percent of respondents agreed with the statement that current proposals favor large corporations over small businesses. Fifty-eight percent said wealthy corporations would benefit the most.

Sixty percent said they did not believe that the current tax proposals in the House or the Senate would help level the playing field for small businesses.

Thirty-six percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 29 percent as Democrats and 35 percent as independents or “other.”

North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, which conducted the study, has a reputation for being sympathetic to left-leaning groups.

In this case, members of the coalition that commissioned the survey were already on the record as having problems with House and Senate Republicans’ vision for changing the tax law.

The House passed its tax plan Nov. 16. The Senate hopes to complete work on its version next month. If it does, House and Senate negotiators would negotiate a compromise and the two chambers would vote again. Republicans want those final votes by year-end.

The poll results could serve as another reminder to Republicans that many in the small-business community, a core constituency, are not buying what the party is currently selling.

And in what could be a sobering message to Republicans who worry about how to reconcile their fiscal conservative credentials with a tax plan that is projected to significantly increase the deficit, 60 percent of the respondents opposed increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion, which the GOP proposals are estimated to do.