Most voters support Biden’s American Families Plan, poll finds

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) look on in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) look on in the House chamber of the Capitol.

  • A Morning Consult/Politico poll found 58% of voters support Biden’s American Families Plan.
  • Individual provisions within the plan, such as universal pre-K, are even more popular.
  • Republican lawmakers oppose the scope and price of the plan, calling it a “$4.1 trillion grab bag.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While Republican lawmakers have strongly opposed President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan, citing concerns with its $1.8 trillion price tag and corporate tax hikes, a new poll found the majority of voters, including Republicans, support it.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Wednesday found that 58% of all voters support the president’s plan, with 86% of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 25% of Republicans backing it. Meanwhile, individual provisions within the plan were found to have more support than the overall package, with 64% of voters supporting ensuring low- and middle-class families pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare.

“The poll, conducted in the days after Biden’s address to Congress unveiling the plan, shows that most of the individual provisions in the package are more popular among voters than the plan overall – something to keep in mind as Biden reportedly considers splitting his proposal into multiple parts to reach a bipartisan compromise,” the poll said.

Here are other main findings from the poll:

  • 63% of voters support universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds;
  • 59% of voters support two years of free community college;
  • 59% of voters support a $15-per-hour minimum wage for childcare workers;
  • 57% of voters support extending the expanded child tax credit;
  • And 56% of voters support two years of subsidized tuition for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and minority serving institutions.

Biden has cited this kind of bipartisan voter support from polling in arguing for a new definition of bipartisanship that doesn’t necessarily include any Republican votes.

Before unveiling his plan, for instance, Biden said there’s no reason why infrastructure cannot be bipartisan, and The Washington Post reported in April that Biden’s definition of “bipartisanship” means support from Republican and Democratic voters – not necessarily Republican lawmaker. Indeed, while not a single Republican in Congress voted for Biden’s stimulus, several have touted elements of it. Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promoted a restaurant aid program from the stimulus.

Democratic lawmakers have advocated for the individual provisions, such as extending the expanded child tax credit from Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus. Many members of the party want it to be permanent, instead of the four-year extension Biden proposed.

When it comes to the price of the plan, although the majority of voters support the spending, Democrats and Republicans disagree the topic. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell drew a red line at $600 billion for infrastructure and jobs, which is less than a fifth of the $4 trillion in spending Biden proposed.

“I don’t think there will be any Republican support – none, zero – for the $4.1 trillion grab bag, which has infrastructure in it, but a whole lot of other stuff,” McConnell said.

McConnell’s remarks followed a group of GOP senators unveiling a $568 billion counter-proposal, largely focused on physical infrastructure, which Democrats called “a slap in the face” and “a joke.”

Separately, Penn Wharton Budget Model released an analysis on Wednesday that found Biden’s American Families Plan will actually cost $700 billion more than the White House’s initial $1.8 trillion estimate, while also noting that strengthened Internal Revenue Service enforcement will help raise $1.3 trillion in tax revenue over 10 years.

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More than half of Americans say they feel comfortable dining indoors

New York City indoor dining

Now that COVID-19 vaccine accessibility is at an all-time high, the majority of Americans are finally ready to eat indoors at restaurants, new polling shows.

Morning Consult has tracked public sentiments about daily life during the pandemic since March 2020. As of April 25, approximately 57% of respondents said they felt comfortable eating indoors compared to the 68% of people who said they felt safe eating outdoors at a restaurant.

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But indoor dining is still one of the riskiest activities to partake in with the coronavirus still spreading. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Insider’s Aylin Woodward that after he got vaccinated, he would still be avoiding “an indoor, crowded place where people are not wearing masks,” such as bars and restaurants.

While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed outdoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, the agency still recommends everyone wear masks inside restaurants and bars.

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the restaurant industry as state and local governments set restrictions against indoor dining to prevent the airborne transmission of the virus.

A report from the National Restaurant Association said that more than 110,000 restaurants and bars closed either temporarily or for good in 2020 from the pandemic. The report also noted that restaurants brought in $240 billion less than what the National Restaurant Association predicted pre-pandemic.

As of April 28, every state allows for some form of indoor dining, but at least 30 states still have some restrictions in place regarding restaurant capacity or party numbers.

With indoor dining restrictions relaxed, many restaurants – especially chains – are struggling to hire enough workers. Some business owners claim that the congressionally granted $300 weekly boost in federal unemployment benefits has made it more difficult to employ workers, though some experts are suggesting that the problem is easily solved by simply paying the workers more.

President Joe Biden announced in early April that every American adult would be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19. Before coming into office, the president said his goal was to ensure 100 million Americans received a dose of the vaccine in his first 100 days – a goal that was surpassed on March 19.

Biden later pushed the goal to 200 million vaccine doses administered by his 100th day, April 30. According to the CDC, more than 232 million vaccine doses have been administered as of April 28, meaning 30% of the total population is fully vaccinated and 43% have received at least one dose.

Kate Taylor contributed reporting.

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44% of Americans feel comfortable socializing in public, a high since the beginning of the pandemic

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With the buildings of downtown Long Beach as a backdrop, beach goers lay on the sand just north of the Huntington Beach Pier in Huntington Beach, as summer-like temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees inland and thousands of people flocked to the beach on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

  • Americans are feeling increasingly comfortable socializing in public spaces, a new poll found.
  • Morning Consult’s survey showed 44% of US adults feel safe enough to meet with friends in public.
  • The comfort level has increased 63% since January as more Americans are vaccinated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As COVID-19 vaccines have become more readily accessible to Americans, US adults are feeling increasingly comfortable socializing in public places, according to recent polling from Morning Consult.

Morning Consult has tracked public sentiments about daily life amid the pandemic since March 2020. As of April 12, approximately 44% of American adults said they wouldn’t mind congregating with friends in social settings – a 63% increase since the beginning of January when it was at just 27%.

The survey interviewed 2,200 people and includes a 2% overall margin of error in its results.

Morning consult socialization poll

Of all participants in Morning Consult’s survey, people born in Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) said they felt the most comfortable socializing in public at 50% and 51% respectively.

Nearly 23% of the US population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and nearly 37% have received at least one dose, a rapidly growing proportion as more than 3 million Americans receive a dose of the vaccine each day. The vaccination rate may decrease slightly in the coming days since authorities paused the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday to investigate after six people who got the shot – out of 7.2 million – developed blood clots.

The COVID-19 pandemic halted nearly all social events in the US, leading to closed restaurants, shuttered schools, and decreased travel. Insider previously reported polling of the numerous ways that the ongoing pandemic has affected American decision-making during the holiday season, presidential voting, and more.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Insider’s Aylin Woodward that he still plans on avoiding restaurants and travel despite being fully vaccinated. He said that if Americans avoid crowds for a little longer, then the country may avoid another surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

“If we could just hold on for a while,” Fauci said, “we’ll reach a point where the protection of the general community by the vaccine would really make it very unlikely that we’re going to have another surge.”

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Americans with more education are optimistic about the economy. The rest aren’t.

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Entertainment and events have come to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, highly impacting Las Vegas’ work force.

  • A Morning Consult analysis looked at consumer confidence throughout the pandemic.
  • It has a K shape like the wider recovery, with more educated Americans more confident about work.
  • The new stimulus could change this K shape, but may not solve things like delayed rent payments.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupted life throughout 2020, economists debated the shape of the recovery from it. Would it be a V shape, a U shape, or even an L shape?

The answer that emerged was something different: A K shape, in which the well off recover like they’re in a V, and lower-income Americans never recover at all. President Joe Biden validated the diagnosis back in 2020, on stage during a presidential debate.

It stands to reason, therefore, that consumer confidence would follow the same K shape, but the results are nevertheless striking. A new analysis from Morning Consult, looking at consumer confidence throughout the pandemic, found lower-income Americans’ confidence in the economy dropped and stayed low during a slow rebound. Meanwhile, higher-educated Americans confidence rebounded like a V and continued to grow. In every state, people with bachelor’s degrees earn more than people without bachelor’s degrees.

John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult and the author of the analysis, told Insider that over the summer, people with bachelor’s degrees felt more confident that in their ability to hold onto their jobs and not lose pay.

The story was the opposite for others. At that point, Leer said, there’s a “real realization among lower-income workers that while they may have been able to hold onto their job to date, they’re much more likely to suffer a loss of pay or income sometime in the future.”

That divide only grew more K-shaped as the pandemic continued. A few months later, Leer said, those higher-educated workers’ confidence in their ability to hold onto their jobs translated into a willingness to engage in wage bargaining; they pushed for increases in their pay and benefits.

“The exact opposite” was true for lower-income Americans.

“If they had managed to hold onto a job, they certainly were not in a position to ask for an increase in salary or benefits,” Leer said.

He added: “What you see over the course of the past year is a really strong divergence in the degree to which Americans exhibit confidence in the economy, in their own personal finances, based on their level of education.”

K shape persists throughout rounds of stimulus

While the size of the first stimulus was “appropriate,” some snags with the rollout impacted confidence. Leer said lower-income Americans were less likely to have bank accounts or to have filed taxes in 2019 – meaning it took longer for the IRS to distribute money to them.

There was a similar phenomenon with states’ unemployment programs and getting money to unemployed workers, Leer said; Insider’s Allana Akhtar and Nick Lichtenberg reported that 35 different states ran into difficulties getting unemployment insurance to their jobless residents.

“As a result, we actually see confidence among those people with higher incomes rebounding a lot faster, because they were both more likely to receive the money they were due sooner, and, in addition, they were more likely to be employed in sectors that rebounded faster,” Leer said.

Notably, checks went out faster with the second stimulus, and confidence and spending grew – although higher-income Americans already had elevated levels of confidence.

“I view the recovery plan essentially as a lifeline for folks who are really struggling right now to make ends meet,” Leer said.

Prior research from Morning Consult found that the $1,400 stimulus checks in the $1.9 trillion stimulus package could help 22.6 million Americans pay their bills through July.

But when it comes to the K-shaped recovery, we’ll probably get a sense of how that’s playing out in September or October, according to Leer; it’ll mostly depend on what job recovery looks like.

“The gap in the so-called K-shaped recovery will depend on getting lower income and less well-educated workers back to work,” Leer said.

There’s also broader issues around what Leer calls “deferred liabilities” – the rent and mortgage payments that millions of Americans haven’t been able to pay over the past year. While the American Rescue Plan does offer billions in housing assistance, some progressives are saying it’s not enough to close the gap. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota just introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act; she said that, currently, 12 million Americans owe $6,000 in back-rent on average.

To address this, Leer says “we have to be very honest with ourselves.” He said he would take an approach similar to a financial institution with someone who can’t pay back their debt.

“You’ve got to make some sort of calculated decision as to whether or not it’s reasonable to ask somebody to pay back what they owe,” Leer said. There could be families, he said, who haven’t been able to pay their rent for 12 months – and may not be able to for the whole pandemic.

“That sort of debt overhang is gonna slow down the recovery going forward. And I would hope that we as a country come up with some sort of solution to that.”

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