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NBC News/WSJ Poll: More Would Blame Trump, GOP for Higher Health Care Costs

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey also finds more Americans opposing Trump’s tax plan than supporting it.
Image: A patient receives care at El Nuevo San Juan Health Center
A patient receives care at El Nuevo San Juan Health Center, one of 10 clinics operated in New York City by Urban Health Plan. UHP and other federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) provide health care to uninsured and underinsured patients across the United States.John Brecher / NBC News

Half of Americans say they will blame President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans if health care costs increase under Obamacare and if more end up losing coverage, according to results from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, while 37 percent say they would put the blame on former President Obama and Democrats.

The survey also finds more Americans opposing Trump’s tax plan than supporting it, suggesting that the White House and Republicans have work to do in selling it to the public.

And a plurality of respondents in the poll want congressional Democrats taking the lead in setting policy for the country, not Trump or congressional Republicans.

With open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, beginning on November 1, Trump has argued that Democrats will “own” higher premiums associated with health-care law. “As usual, the ObamaCare premiums will be up (the Dems own it), but we will Repeal & Replace and have great Healthcare soon after Tax Cuts!” he tweeted on Sunday.

Democrats contend, on the other hand, that the Trump administration’s actions on Obamacare — including slashing its advertising budget and ending key subsidies for the program — mean that Trump and congressional Republicans will be on the hook if premiums increase.

Asked who would be more responsible for rising costs and Americans losing coverage, 50 percent of respondents point the finger at Trump and congressional Republicans.

By party, 72 percent of Democratic respondents in the poll blame Trump and GOP, while 65 percent of Republican respondents say they’d blame Obama and the Democrats. Yet independents, by a 49 percent to 29 percent margin, would blame Republicans over Democrats.

On Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law itself, 43 percent of Americans believe it is a good idea, versus 39 percent who think it’s a bad idea. It’s the fourth-straight NBC/WSJ poll in 2017 where more respondents have called it a “good idea” than a “bad idea.”

Trump’s tax plan starts underwater with the public

As for Trump’s tax plan — with congressional Republicans set to release legislation on Wednesday — 25 percent of Americans say it’s a good idea, compared with 35 percent who say it’s a bad idea; another 39 percent say they don’t have an opinion.

“Trump and Republicans have a long way to go … to convince people of the merits of the plan,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the survey with the Democratic firm Hart Research Associates.

Indeed, 25 percent of respondents in the poll say they’ll pay more in taxes under the plan, 14 percent say they’ll pay less and 21 percent say they’ll pay about the same. Forty percent say they don’t know enough about the plan.

In addition, only 19 percent think the plan will improve the economy “a great deal” or “quite a bit,” compared with a combined 66 percent who answer “just some” or “not at all.”

And 32 percent the plan will increase the federal deficit by a “great deal” or “quite a bit,” while 49 percent who say “just some” or “not at all.”

Plurality want congressional Democrats taking the lead on setting policy

The NBC/WSJ poll also finds that a plurality of Americans — 45 percent — want congressional Democrats to take the lead role in setting policy for the country, versus 22 percent who want Trump taking the lead and another 21 percent who pick congressional Republicans.

Other findings in the poll:

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is the most popular political figure in the poll, with 43 percent viewing him positively and 28 percent negatively (+15). But Republican respondents in the poll have a net-negative view of McCain — 35 percent positive, 44 percent negative (-9).
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is barely above water with GOP respondents – 23 percent positive, 21 percent negative (+2). That’s an improvement from September, when McConnell’s numbers among Republicans stood at 17 percent positive, 25 percent negative (-8).
  • Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon is the most unpopular figure in the poll: 8 percent view him positively, 42 percent negatively (-34). Among Republicans, Bannon is barely above water – 17 percent positive, 15 percent negative (+2).
  • On the issue of gun control after the tragic Las Vegas shooting, 47 percent say they’re more concerned the government won’t do enough to regulate firearms, while 45 percent say they’re more worried the government will go too far.
  • And on the subject of the North American Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA), 30 percent say the trade agreement has had a more positive impact, 28 percent say it’s had a more negative impact and 22 percent say it hasn’t made much of an impact at all.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 23-26 of 900 adults, including nearly half of whom were reached by cell phone, and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.