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As the U.S. Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bipartisan package of $550 billion in new infrastructure spending, Colorado progressives touted new polling showing strong support for the next item on President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats’ agenda: a $3.5 trillion budget bill that would raise taxes on wealthy earners and corporations while boosting funding for social programs and the clean-energy transition.
Polling conducted last month by the progressive group Americans for Tax Fairness found that large majorities of Coloradans support key provisions included in a sweeping budget plan outlined by Senate Democrats this week, including an increase to the corporate tax rate and tax hikes for Americans earning over $400,000 a year.
“There’s a sense that Colorado voters are anti-tax, or more anti-tax than voters in other states,” Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, said in a press call Tuesday. “What this research shows is that Colorado voters aren’t anti-tax, they’re pro-fair tax. Colorado voters do understand that we do need investments in our communities, and they want to pay for them.”
Following passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on a 69-30 vote, Senate Democrats are expected to move forward this week with a budgetary blueprint that would direct committees to begin drafting detailed tax and spending plans to implement their sweeping agenda. With the $3.5 trillion package likely to face fierce Republican opposition, Democratic leaders have signaled their intent to pass the bill through the budget reconciliation process, which would only require a simple majority vote.
Senate Democrats’ blueprint includes many of the same provisions outlined by the Biden administration in a $4 trillion budget proposal earlier this year. The Americans for Tax Fairness survey, conducted in July by pollsters Hart Research and ALG Research, asked 401 registered Colorado voters what they thought about different parts of Biden’s “American Families Plan.”
“We described for them the core elements of the (Biden) plan, and what is shaping up to be the core elements of the reconciliation bill,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research.
Overall, the poll found that 61% of Coloradans supported the plan, compared to 37% opposed. Molyneux noted that support was strong for the plan even when pollsters told respondents that it was a Biden-backed proposal — and specified its price tag.
“We’re upfront about the cost — we tell them it will cost $4 trillion,” he said. “Despite the being very clear about the cost … we still see this very robust support: two-thirds of unaffiliated voters and even a quarter of Republicans support the plan.”
Final details of Democrats’ reconciliation bill will be negotiated in the coming weeks and months, but both Biden’s plan and the proposal outlined this week by Senate Democrats include a permanent expansion of the child tax credit, creation of a paid family leave benefit, universal pre-school and tuition-free community college. The Senate’s blueprint also includes an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental care, as well as big investments in clean energy.
While some of this new spending is expected to be financed by debt, Democrats’ budget plan calls for it to be partially offset by new revenues raised through a variety of tax increases on big businesses and the rich.
The Americans for Tax Fairness poll found broad support among Colorado voters for a wide range of such tax provisions. A 2% annual wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million — an idea floated by progressive Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, but not currently included in the reconciliation proposal — was the most popular proposal among the Coloradans who were surveyed, earning 69% support.
Meanwhile, 59% of Colorado voters support an increase of the corporate tax rate to 28%, according to the poll. Biden has called for the corporate tax rate — which was slashed from 35% to 21% by Republicans’ 2017 tax-cut bill — to be raised to 28%, but has also signaled a willingness to negotiate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate and key swing vote, said earlier this year that he favors a 25% corporate rate.
Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper celebrated passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Tuesday, but as the Senate’s attention turns to the reconciliation process, both could play a critical role in shaping the budget bill’s final details.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.