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One Big Problem for Trump's Tax Plan? It's Already Unpopular.

House Republicans are facing a major disadvantage with their tax plan, even before they delayed the rollout of their bill by one day.
Image: Trump listens during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Oct. 31, 2017, in Washington.Evan Vucci / AP

First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are facing a major disadvantage with their tax plan, even before they delayed the rollout of their bill by one day.

Their plan starts out underwater, according to our latest NBC/WSJ poll — and by about the same margin as the poll's first track of George W. Bush's failed effort to partially privatize Social Security.

In this new NBC/WSJ poll, 25 percent call Trump’s tax plan a good idea, versus 35 percent who call it a bad idea (-10). And nearly four-in-10 Americans — 39 percent — do not have an opinion.

By comparison, here is how the major legislative efforts over the last 13 years started out in the NBC/WSJ poll under this same good idea-vs.-bad idea question:

  • December 2004: George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization effort: 38 percent good idea, 50 percent bad idea (-12); 12 percent not sure/no opinion.
  • January 2009: Barack Obama’s economic stimulus: 43 percent good idea, 27 percent bad idea (+16); 30 percent not sure/undecided.
  • April 2009: Barack Obama’s health-care bill: 33 percent good idea, 26 percent bad idea (+7); 41 percent not sure/undecided.
  • October 2017: Donald Trump’s tax plan: 25 percent good idea, 35 percent bad idea (-10); 39 percent not sure/no 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.”

GOP delays release of their tax bill

As for House Republicans delaying the introduction of their tax bill by a day — it was supposed to be today, now it’s Thursday — here’s the dispatch from NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Alex Moe and Leigh Ann Caldwell: “The heart of the issue: whether the plan can meet the $1.5 trillion spending limit set by the budget and whether the cut will be distributed across the middle class. So-called distribution tables that outline the benefits for the wealth versus the middle class will be closely watched.”

“Republicans are under political pressure to make sure it's viewed as a broad middle-class tax cut and not a package of tax breaks for wealthy Americans. A confident-sounding Ryan told a group of conservatives during a meeting Tuesday afternoon that lawmakers are close to a deal but that the remaining issue revolved around the state and local tax deduction, a prize issue for blue-state Republicans who are fiercely protective of the deduction.”

“Heading into Tuesday, the compromise on the table was to allow taxpayers from high-tax states, such as New York, New Jersey and California, to continue deducting their property taxes from their federal tax bills. But the state and local tax deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct their local taxes from their federal tax bills, would be eliminated... Eliminating the state and local tax would bring in $1.3 trillion of much-needed revenue to pay for large corporate tax cuts.”

More will blame Trump, GOP for higher health care costs

Also, with open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) beginning today, the NBC/WSJ poll finds 50 percent of Americans saying President Trump and congressional Republicans will be responsible if health-care costs increase and if more end up losing their coverage. That’s compared with 37 percent who will blame Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

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.”

Eight killed in terrorist attack in New York

“Eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured Tuesday when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus. Officials said it was a terrorist attack — the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001,” NBC News reports.

“The man hopped out of the truck and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ or ‘God is great,’ before firing a BB or pellet gun, four senior law enforcement sources told NBC News. A police officer on patrol in the area returned fire, hitting the suspect in the abdomen and ending the Halloween horror less than a mile from the World Trade Center.”

Trump calls for policy changes in wake of New York attack — something he didn’t do after the Las Vegas shootings

After the attack in New York, President Trump fired off these tweets last night and this morning (in chronological order):

In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter). @foxandfriends"Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems" said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends

Compare those tweets with what he sent in the 24 hours after the shooting in Las Vegas early last month.

My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!I am so proud of our great Country. God bless America!Leaving Puerto Rico now for D.C. Will be in Las Vegas early tomorrow to pay my respects. Everyone is in my thoughts and prayers.It is a "miracle" how fast the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to find the demented shooter and stop him from even more killing!

Of course, there is one key policy difference between the two situations: The Las Vegas shooter was an American citizen, the New York attacker isn’t. Still, the difference in tone is quite striking.

Mueller’s team questioned Sam Clovis last week, will interview Hope Hicks later this month

Meanwhile, in the Russia investigation… “Sam Clovis, the former top Trump campaign official who supervised a man now cooperating with the FBI's Russia investigation, was questioned last week by special counsel Robert Mueller's team and testified before the investigating grand jury,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli write. “Clovis, who is President Donald Trump's pick to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Victoria Toensing, would neither confirm nor deny his interactions with the Mueller team.”

And: “President Donald Trump’s longtime aide and current communications director, Hope Hicks, is scheduled to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-November, following the president’s trip to Asia,” per Politico.

WaPo poll of VA GOV race: Northam 49 percent, Gillespie 44 percent

“One week from Election Day, Democrat Ralph Northam’s lead has narrowed to five percentage points in the Virginia governor’s race, with Republican Ed Gillespie closing a motivation gap and consolidating support among conservatives and supporters of President Trump, a new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds,” per the Washington Post.

Northam was up by 13 points in the poll earlier this month. But a caveat: No one thinks Northam is up double digits; the Post poll currently has the race where strategists have seen it for weeks – with Northam up 4-6 points.