Tax deal enjoys public support

TAX DEAL ENJOYS PUBLIC SUPPORT…. It’s been about a week since the White House announced the agreement it reached with congressional Republicans on tax policy, but polling on the agreement has been a little sketchy — the questions just haven’t been worded well enough to offer a complete picture.

With that in mind, the results of this new national poll are pretty interesting.

About seven in 10 Americans back the tax deal negotiated last week by President Obama and congressional Republicans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The high bipartisan support for the package masks more tepid public approval for some of the main components of the agreement that comes before a key Senate vote this afternoon.

A slender 11 percent of those polled back all four of the deal’s primary tax provisions: an across-the-board extension of Bush-era tax cuts, additional jobless benefits, a payroll tax holiday and a $5 million threshold for inheritance taxes. Just 38 percent support even two of the components.

But put all four items together, and 69 percent of all Americans support the package. Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike favor the agreement, which has drawn stiff opposition from some Democrats in the House.

What we’ve seen repeatedly lately is that the parts of major policies are more popular than the whole — as with the cases of health care reform and the Recovery Act. But this is the opposite — the provisions of the deal aren’t especially popular at all, but the combined agreement appears to enjoy broad support.

Of particular interest was the reaction from liberal Democrats. It’s probably fair to say the strongest and more aggressive opponents of the tax deal have been on the left, with leading liberal lawmakers, organizations, and media figures denouncing the agreement. I more or less expected like-minded voters, then, to have serious reservations.

But if the poll is accurate, that’s not the case, at least not yet. The Post/ABC poll found that 69% of self-identified liberals Dems support the deal — putting liberal attitudes exactly in line with the rest of the public.

Will any of this matter? I suspect lawmakers will at least take note of the poll results, and it may help shape some lawmakers’ attitudes. Senate passage appears likely anyway, but in the House, it stands to reason that progressive Dems itching to defeat the deal may have been more inclined to fight if they thought the public wanted to see the agreement fail. With support near 70%, including among liberal Dems, it’s the kind of poll that may end up taking some wind out of opponents’ sails.