Federal Poverty Programs

Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, one of the most polarizing issues in the American political discourse has been the question of how much the federal government should invest in efforts to mitigate poverty. 

While the American economy has grown 384% over the last 50 years, the percentage of the population living under the poverty line has barely budged and is currently 11.8% with 38 million individuals living under the poverty line, including about 13 million children. Various pieces of Congressional legislation and other proposals have called for both expanding and for cutting back Federal poverty programs.

  • National Sample: 7,128
  • Margin of Error: +/- 1.2%
  • Fielded: November 11, 2016 – January 18, 2017

There were also an oversample of 317 respondents from Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, California, Maryland and New York. This data can be found in the questionnaire.

Proposals with bipartisan support discussed below:

  • Increasing SNAP benefits for single individuals and single mothers
  • Prohibiting the use of SNAP benefits for certain foods (e.g. sodas, candy)
  • Providing discounts on fruits and vegetables when purchased with SNAP
  • Making pre-kindergarten available to all 4 year olds in low-income families and expanding Early Head Start programs
  • Setting up a Congressional committee to develop a plan to eliminate child poverty
  • Raising the federal minimum wage
  • Increasing the maximum earnings that a worker without children can make and still be eligible for Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC)
  • Prohibiting companies that have engaged in wage theft from bidding on government contracts
  • Funding job creation programs
  • Giving states the option to receive federal poverty program funding as block grants
  • Raising the federal poverty line

Proposals that did not have bipartisan support:

  • Changing the level of savings low-income individuals may have and still qualify for SNAP benefits
  • Changing the requirement that low-income tenants contribute 30% of their monthly income toward the cost of public housing.
  • Increasing the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit from $503 to $1,000
  • Indexing minimum wage to inflation
  • Expanding state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, in which the federal government covers 90% of the cost

FOOD ASSISTANCE

Respondents were first given a background briefing on the SNAP program. They were told that in 2015, the program cost $74 billion, with 23 million households receiving benefits, including about 26 million adults and 20 million children.

They were told that the Federal guidelines for SNAP eligibility were: 

  • Total household income: Must be no more than a bit above the federal poverty line.
  • Total household savings: Must be less than $2,250. In fact, the average recipient has $400 in savings.
  • Work requirements: Able-bodied adults must register with a state employment office, actively seek work and/or job training, and accept a job, if offered. 

Respondents were told “Benefits vary on a sliding scale depending on household income. As income goes up, benefits go down, and then stop entirely when income is a bit above the poverty line.”  

They were then given two examples of average SNAP benefits as follows.   

  • About half of all SNAP recipients are living alone.
  • Their average monthly income is $542.
  • Their SNAP benefit is, on average, about $140 a month.

  • Another major group of SNAP recipients are single mothers with one child.
  • Their average income is approximately $760 a month.
  • Their SNAP benefit is, on average, $253 a month.

They were then asked whether these levels seemed low, about right, or high.  Majorities nationally (57%) found these benefit levels low.  More than seven in ten Democrats found them low.  Less than half of Republicans (40%) found them low, but only one in five found them high.

Respondents then evaluated arguments for and against raising benefits.  The argument in favor of raising benefits did very well with more than seven in ten finding it convincing nationally.  Republicans were lower, but still nearly six in ten found the argument convincing.

The argument against raising benefits was much less convincing. A bare majority found it convincing.  Among Republicans, though, seven in ten found it convincing. 

Coming back to the two specific cases of benefit levels--individuals living alone and single mothers with one child--respondents were asked to select what they thought the level should be and were able to give any number.  For both cases, a bipartisan majority substantially raised benefits from the current level.  

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above,  63% agreed to raise the average SNAP benefits for a single person living alone from $140 to $200 a month, including 84% of Democrats, but only four in ten Republicans.

Related Standard Polls
When the actual levels of SNAP benefits have not been presented, there has not been overall majority support for increases or decreases to benefit levels. However, a majority of Democrats has favored increases: 

  • Respondents were told, “Another part of the U.S. Farm Bill is support for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. This program provides government-supported food purchasing assistance to millions of low-income people in the U.S.” Then, asked, “In the new Farm Bill, do you think federal spending on the SNAP or food stamp program should be increased, decreased, or kept about the same,” 39% chose to keep it the same (Republicans 44%, Democrats 27%) and 37% chose to increase it (Republicans 13%, Democrats 63%). Just 19% chose to decrease it (Republicans 39%, Democrats 7%). (June 2018 Politico/ Harvard School of Public Health). 

Even in the context of reducing the federal deficit, a majority has been opposed to cutting food stamps:

  • Asked, “To help reduce the federal budget deficit, do you think government spending on food stamps that go to low income families should be cut or not,” 66% chose to not cut them, including 85% of Democrats. Among Republicans, 40% chose to not cut, and 52% to cut. (September 2013, Quinnipiac University)

Status of Legislation
A proposal to increase SNAP benefits for single individuals and single mothers was in the Closing the Meal Gap Act (H.R. 1276) by Rep. Alma Adams (D) in the 115th Congress. The bill was reintroduced by the Rep. Adams (H.R. 4077), as well as by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D) (S. 2192) in the 117th Congress, neither of which have made it out of committee.

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above,  71% agreed to raise average SNAP benefits for single mothers with one child from $253 to $300 a month, including 91% of Democrats and half of Republicans. (PPC 2018)

Related Standard Polls
When the actual levels of SNAP benefits have not been presented, there has not been overall majority support for increases or decreases to benefit levels. However, a majority of Democrats has favored increases: 

  • Respondents were told, “Another part of the U.S. Farm Bill is support for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. This program provides government-supported food purchasing assistance to millions of low-income people in the U.S.” Then, asked, “In the new Farm Bill, do you think federal spending on the SNAP or food stamp program should be increased, decreased, or kept about the same,” 39% chose to keep it the same (Republicans 44%, Democrats 27%) and 37% chose to increase it (Republicans 13%, Democrats 63%). Just 19% chose to decrease it (Republicans 39%, Democrats 7%). (June 2018 Politico/ Harvard School of Public Health). 

Even in the context of reducing the federal deficit, a majority has been opposed to cutting food stamps:

  • Asked, “To help reduce the federal budget deficit, do you think government spending on food stamps that go to low income families should be cut or not,” 66% chose to not cut them, including 85% of Democrats. Among Republicans, 40% chose to not cut, and 52% to cut. (September 2013, Quinnipiac University)

Status of Legislation
A proposal to increase SNAP benefits for single individuals and single mothers was in the Closing the Meal Gap Act (H.R. 1276) by Rep. Alma Adams (D) in the 115th Congress. The bill was reintroduced by the Rep. Adams (H.R. 4077), as well as by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D) (S. 2192) in the 117th Congress, neither of which have made it out of committee.

Respondents were first told:

Recently, there has been a debate over whether some kinds of food people can buy with SNAP benefits should be restricted. Currently, SNAP cannot be used for alcoholic beverages, and usually not for hot ready-to-eat food.  One proposal is to extend these limits to other food items with little nutritional value, such as sweetened sodas, candy, cookies, cakes, and ice cream.

They were then presented an argument in favor of restricting SNAP eligible foods.  It was found convincing by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, including 91% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats.

The argument against such restrictions did much more poorly, with just 42% finding it convincing, including 30% of Democrats. A bare majority of Republicans (52%) found it convincing.

They were then given a list of food items and asked whether each one should be allowed for purchase with SNAP benefits.  There was substantial variation depending on the item.  The largest bipartisan majorities favored disallowing candy, followed closely by sweetened sodas. Restricting candy was recommended by 73%, including 85% of Republicans and 68% of Democrats; restricting sweetened soda by 76%, Republicans 82% and Democrats 67%.

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above, a bipartisan majority agreed with the majority position of:

  • not allowing the purchase of sweetened soda with SNAP benefits (78%, Republicans 83%, Democrats 76%); and
  • not allowing the purchase of candy with SNAP benefits (79%, Republicans 84%, Democrats 75%).

(PPC 2018)

Related Standard Polls
Interestingly, when a poll only presented a reason in favor of the proposal, bipartisan majorities have favored prohibiting soda and candy from being purchased with SNAP benefits, but at a lower level than in the policymaking simulation survey that provided both pro and con arguments:

  • Respondents were first informed that, “The SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) or Food Stamp program maintains an approved list of foods and beverages that can be purchased using SNAP or Food Stamps. Some have suggested that in order to encourage healthier eating and drinking habits, candy and sugary drinks should be removed from the approved list of foods that can be paid for through this program.” No countervailing argument was provided. Asked if they favored removing sugary drinks “from the list of products that can be purchased using SNAP,” 63% were in favor (Republicans 74%, Democrats 53%). Asked about removing candy from that list, 64% were in favor (Republicans 83%, Democrats 54%). (June 2018, Politico/Harvard School of Public Health)

When no reason for the proposal was provided, a bare, but bipartisan majority have opposed prohibiting soda from being purchased with SNAP benefits:

  • Asked whether they favor or oppose, “a ban on using food stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits to purchase soda and sugary beverages,” 51% opposed, including 52% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats, but just 48% of independents (51% favored). (August 2017, Politico/Harvard Public Health)

Status of Legislation
Proposals to prohibit the use of SNAP benefits for the purchase of certain unhealthy foods were in H.R. 2383 sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice (R) and H.R. 4881 by Rep. David Roe (R) in the 114th Congress. These bills did not make it out of committee.

The proposals presented to respondents were based on H.R. 1933, H.R. 3072, and H.R.4904 from the 113th Congress, and H.R. 5423 from the 114th Congress.

As a follow-on to the above discussion of making SNAP benefits contingent on foods being nutritious, an additional dimension was presented as follows:

Another idea that has been considered for the SNAP program is to try to encourage people to eat more healthy food like fruits and vegetables.  Research shows that if SNAP recipients are given a discount on fruits and vegetables they are more likely to buy them, as it helps their food stamps go further. On the one hand, these discounts would be an extra cost for the program; on the other hand, they are likely to have positive health effects, which might produce some savings for government spending on healthcare benefits for SNAP beneficiaries, who are also on Medicaid. 

An overwhelming 88%, including 81% Republicans and 93% of Democrats, favored providing discounts on fruit and vegetables bought with SNAP benefits. 

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above, 90% agreed with the majority position, including 85% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats. (PPC 2018)

Status of Legislation
The proposal to incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetables among SNAP beneficiaries, by providing discounts on those foods to those using SNAP benefits, was in H.R. 1933 by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D), H.R. 3072 by Rep. Dan Kildee (D), and H.R.4904 by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) in the 113th Congress. It was also in H.R. 5423 in the 114th Congress and H.R. 4855 in the 115th Congress, both sponsored by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D). None of the bills made it out of committee.

CHILD POVERTY

Respondents were introduced to a proposal for expanding free educational programs for children aged four or younger, based on S. 473, H.R. 2528 and H.R. 3604 from the 114th Congress. They were told: 

Another major proposal for helping families in poverty is to expand access to early childhood education. This has two benefits for families in poverty:   

  • It provides education to poor children.
  • It provides childcare for working parents.

Currently, only a small number of 4-year-old children in low-income families attend pre-kindergarten programs. The federal government could provide funds to help states build or expand programs, so that more 4-year-old children from low-income families have access to such programs.

Currently, only a small number of children age 3 and under in low-income families have access to the Early Head Start program, which helps some states provide care and early education to infants and toddlers from low-income households. 

The proposal for the federal government to help states build, or expand and upgrade, their early childhood education programs would:

  • Make pre-kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds in low-income families. To qualify, for example, a family of three (a single parent and two children) would make less than $37,540 per year.
  • Expand the availability of Early Head Start programs to more children aged three and under from low-income families.  To qualify, for example, a family of three (a single parent and two children) would make less than $18,770 per year.  

This proposal would cost the federal government about $8 billion per year.

Surrounding this proposal is a controversy about the long-term effectiveness of such preschool programs for poor children. Research indicates that poor children who go through such programs do better when they enter school, but this advantage fades after the first one to two years. However, there is also some evidence, though not as strong, that in high school some of these advantages reappear. Also, proponents of the proposal emphasize that with more research improvements can be made to increase long-term effectiveness. 

Presented arguments for and against expanding access to early childhood education, the argument in favor did substantially better (81% to 49%). The pro argument was found convincing by majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. The con argument was found convincing only by a majority of Republicans, with just one third of Democrats feeling the same.

Respondents were then asked whether they would favor or oppose a proposal that would:  

  • Make pre-kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds in low-income families; and
  • Expand the availability of Early Head Start programs, which provide care and early education from birth until the age of 3 for infants and toddlers from low income households.

Over seven in ten supported the proposal. A large majority of Democrats favored the proposal (90%) as did a bare majority of Republicans (52%).

Related Standard Polls
A bipartisan majority has favored providing free pre-kindergarten to children in their state:

  • Asked whether they favor, “providing free pre-kindergarten services to all children in your state”, 80% were in favor, including 65% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats. (April 2017, PRRI)

In a question that framed the issue of pre-kindergarten in terms of local taxpayer support versus parents paying for their own children, two thirds favored local taxpayers supporting pre-kindergarten, with Republicans divided. 

  • Asked whether “pre-kindergarten programs in your state should be supported by local taxpayers like public schools,” or “parents [should] be obligated to pay for such programs for their children themselves,” 66% chose taxpayer funding, including 79% of Democrats. Republicans were divided, with 49% choosing taxpayer funding and 50% parent funding. (April 2017, PRRI)

In a question that asked respondents to choose between federal funding for programs for all children or letting the states decide, attitudes broke sharply along party lines. 

  • Asked whether “the federal government should fund pre-kindergarten programs for all children nationwide,” or whether “funding pre-kindergarten programs for all children [should] be left to each individual state government to decide,” 52% endorsed the latter, and 47% the former. Among Republicans, 70% chose letting states decide. Among Democrats, 65% chose federal funding.  (February 2014, CBS/New York Times) [Note: The legislative proposal explored in the PPC study that elicited bi-partisan support envisioned the federal government taking the lead, but working with state governments.]

When placed in the context of the federal deficit, a majority found unacceptable the idea of reducing spending on the Head Start pre-kindergarten program, but a majority of Republicans found it acceptable:

  • Respondents were told they would be introduced to “a number of programs that could be cut significantly as a way to reduce the current federal budget deficit.” Asked whether they thought that “significantly cutting the funding” for the “Head Start pre-kindergarten program” was acceptable or unacceptable, 56% found it unacceptable, including 70% of Democrats. Among Republicans, 38% found it unacceptable and 61% acceptable. (February 2011, NBC/Wall Street Journal) 

Status of Legislation
The proposal to expand access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for low income families was in S. 473 sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D), H.R. 2528 by Rep. SusanDavis (D) and H.R. 3604 by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) in the 114th Congress. The proposal was reintroduced by Rep. Eleanor Homes Norton (D) in H.R. 5906 in the 115th Congress.

In the 116th Congress, were two pieces of legislation ithat would provide universal access to early childhood education: 

  • The Universal Pre-kindergarten and Early Childhood Education Act (H.R. 4213), sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), which would give grants to states to cover up to 80% of the costs of providing free pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to all children; and 
  • the Universal Full-Day Kindergarten Act (H.R. 1971) by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D), which would give states grants to provide free kindergarten to all children.

In the 117th Congress, a proposal to provide universal access to preschool is in the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, sponsored by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) (H.R. 2886) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) (S. 1398), which has not yet made it out of committee.

Respondents were introduced to this proposal, as follows: 

Some lawmakers have called for specifically targeting child poverty. One proposal before Congress would set the goal of reducing child poverty by half and ultimately eliminating it. A commission that would develop a national plan, working with the National Academy of Sciences to reduce within 10 years the number of children living in poverty by half. Over the following 10 years the number would be reduced as close to zero as possible. 

Congress would still have to pass legislation enacting the plan, and the president would still need to sign the legislation into law.

When asked to evaluate arguments pro and con, the argument in favor did substantially better (82% to 57%). The pro arguments were found convincing by large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. Responses to the con argument were much more partisan, with a majority of Republicans convinced, but just four in ten Democrats.

In the end, a large bipartisan majority of three in four favored Congress setting up a commission to develop a plan to reduce child poverty by half in 10 years and as close to zero as possible in 20 years. This included a substantial majority of Democrats (89%) as well as nearly six in ten Republicans.

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above, 78% agreed with the majority position, including 62% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats. (PPC 2018)

Status of Legislation
The proposal to create a Congressional commission to develop a plan for eliminating childhood poverty was in the Child Poverty Reduction Act (H.R. 2408, S. 2224), sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis (D) and Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D) in the 114th Congress. The bill was reintroduced by the same sponsors in the 116th Congress (H.R. 7419, S. 4115). The bill has not made it out of committee.

In 2019, the National Academies of Science was commissioned to study child poverty in the US, and solutions for addressing it. Their report, “A Roadmap to Reduce Child Poverty”, included policy recommendations that could reduce child poverty by half.

HELPING THE WORKING POOR

To address this concern, Members of Congress have introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage. The proposals presented to respondents were based on H.R.2150 and S. 1150 from the 114th Congress.

Respondents were first presented the following information about the federal minimum wage. 

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Here is how much a full-time worker earns at that rate before taxes:

  • A single person earning minimum wage and working full-time is a bit above the poverty line. However, someone earning minimum wage with one or more children, or a spouse who does not work, is under the poverty line. Thus, raising the minimum wage would lift a significant number of people above the poverty line.
  • Raising the minimum wage would not create costs for the federal government, although it would increase costs to employers.
  • Raising the minimum wage is controversial among economists. Some economists argue that increasing it could lead some employers to not create new jobs and even lay off employees. Other economists say this is not the case, pointing to cases when the minimum wage was increased in one state but not in another neighboring state, and employment rates were no different between the states.

They evaluated arguments in favor of and against raising the minimum wage.  The argument in favor did much better, with 72% finding it convincing compared to 56% convinced by the con argument. The pro argument was found much more convincing by Democrats than Republicans, while the opposite was true of the con argument.

They were then presented two proposals for raising the minimum wage that have been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for their potential effect on the number of households under the poverty line, and employment. The first was presented as follows: 

The first proposal would raise the minimum wage over a two-year period from $7.25 to $9.00.

CBO estimates that with this option the most likely outcomes would be:

  • About 7.6 million people would have an increase in their weekly earnings.
  • About 300,000 people would have their household income rise above the poverty line.
  • The number of jobs in the economy would decline by about 100,000, or 0.07%.

Nationally, three quarters favored this proposal, including 58% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats.

The second proposal was presented as follows:  

The second proposal that the CBO analyzed goes further. It would raise the current minimum wage over a three-year period from $7.25 to $10.10.

CBO estimates that with this option the most likely outcomes would be:

  • About 16.5 million people would have an increase in their weekly earnings.
  • About 900,000 people would have their household income rise above the poverty line.
  • The number of jobs in the economy would decline by about 500,000 or 0.35%.

This proposal was endorsed by 57% overall, including 78% of Democrats but only one in three Republicans. 

Respondents were also given the opportunity to specify exactly what they thought the minimum wage should be three years from now. Overall, the majority said it should be $10 an hour.  Among Republicans, the majority recommended $9, and among Democrats, $11.50.

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above,  79% agreed with the majority position to raise the minimum wage to $9, including 59% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats. (PPC 2018)

Results from CDD’s Survey
The 2019 deliberative poll by Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy asked respondents whether they favor or oppose, “increas[ing] the federal minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $15/hour.” Before providing their final response, they were presented with briefing materials on poverty and poverty programs, as well as arguments for and against increasing the minimum wage. On a 0-10 scale, just 39% were in favor (6-10), including 16% of Republicans and a majority of Democrats (59%). Including the middle position -- defined as "in the middle" -- those not opposed was 54%, including 78% of Democrats but just 29% of Republicans. 

Before receiving any briefing materials or engaging in the deliberation process respondents were given the same poll question as those asked afterwards. Support decreased from the pre-deliberation poll to the post-deliberation poll, overall (54% to 39%), and among Republicans (21% to 16%) and Democrats (83% to 59%). Those who were not opposed to the proposal (5-10) also decreased overall (69% to 54%), and among Republicans (37% to 29%) and Democrats (91% to 78%).

Related Standard Polls
When asked whether the minimum wage should be increased at all, bipartisan majorities have favored increasing it:

  • Informed that, “the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour,” they were then asked if they favored increasing it. Seventy one percent were in favor, including 86% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans. (January 2016, AP-NORC)
  • Informed that “the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour,” they were then asked if they favored increasing it. Seventy three percent were in favor, including 87% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans. (December 2015, Pew)

When the question has been not only what the minimum wage should be, but includes the option of not having a minimum wage, a majority have still favored increasing it.  However, given the option, a substantial number of Republicans have elected to not have a minimum wage, and support for increasing has dropped below half. 

  • Asked whether “the minimum wage [should be] raised, kept the same, lowered but not eliminated, or eliminated altogether,” 55% felt it should be raised (Republicans 30%, Democrats 80%). Another 34% felt it should be kept the same (Republicans 52%, Democrats 17%). Another 2-4% felt it should be lowered, and 8% felt it should be eliminated (Republicans 14%, Democrats 1%). (2016, American National Election Survey Pilot)
  • When another sample was asked the same question, 64% felt it should be raised (Republicans 43%, Democrats 81%). Another 29% felt it should be kept the same (Republicans 47%, Democrats 15%). Just 2-3% felt it should be lowered, and 4% eliminated (Republicans 7%, Democrats 1%). (2016, American National Election Survey Time Series)

When asked about raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, a large majority has favored it, but not among Republicans:

  • Asked, “If your state put the following questions for a vote on the ballot, would you vote for or against,” 65% said they would vote for a measure to “raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour,” including 92% of Democrats, but only 35% of Republicans (65% opposed). (2018, Harvard CCES)
  • Respondents who favored raising the minimum wage past the current $7.25 an hour were asked whether they, “favor or oppose increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour.” Of the total sample, 52% favored, including 70% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans. (January 2016, AP-NORC)

When asked about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, modest majorities favor it, but only small minorities of Republicans. Attitudes have remained fairly stable over the last several years:

  • Asked whether they support, “raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour,” 53% were in support, including 87% of Democrats but just 20% of Republicans. (March 2021, Monmouth University)
  • Asked the same question as above, 61% were in support, including 88% of Democrats but just 33% of Republicans. (February 2021, Quinnipiac University)
  • Asked whether they think “a national minimum wage of $15 an hour,” is a “good idea or a bad idea,” 54% said it was a good idea, including 81% of Democrats but just 26% of Republicans. (December 2019, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist)
  • Asked whether they support, “increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour,” 63% were in support, including 82% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans. (December 2018, PRRI/The Atlantic)
  • Asked whether they favor, “an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour,” 58% were in favor, including 80% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans. (August 2016, Pew) 

Status of Legislation
The proposal for raising the minimum wage was in H.R. 2150 sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D) and S. 1150 by Sen. Patty Murray (D) in the 114th Congress. These bills did not make it out of committee.

There are a few pieces of legislation in the 116th Congress that would raise the minimum wage. 

The Fight for a Modern Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 3728) by Rep. Tom Rooney (R) would increase the minimum wage to $8.50, and then tie it to regional inflation measures. 

The Fair Wage Act (H.R. 4443), by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) would increase the minimum wage by taking into account cost-of-living-adjustments into the calculation each year. 

Lastly, the Original Living Wage Act (H.R. 122) by Rep. Al Green (D) would set the minimum wage at 125% of the poverty line for a family of four. 

These bills have not made it out of committee.

The Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582, S. 150), sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, and then tie it to a measure based on median wages. It passed the House, with 228 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting in favor, and 6 Democrats, 192 Republicans and 1 independent voting against. It has not yet been taken up by the Senate.

Another proposal is to increase the generosity of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits low income workers, especially those with children. For those with no children, the maximum income a person can earn and still be eligible is $15,270. This eligibility level rises to $40,320 for people with one child and to $49,194 for people with three or more children. Those with no children can receive up to $519 under the EITC; those with three or more can receive up to $6,431.

Some think that the EITC should be made more generous, either by permitting those who make more money to be eligible for the subsidies or by allocating more money to those who already qualify (or both). Supporters argue that the EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs because it encourages work. The credit grows as work and wages increase, encouraging people to work more. It also injects much-needed resources into low-income families, who may help the economy by spending that money.

Critics say that there are more effective ways to grow the economy, such as by encouraging investment in new businesses and ideas. They believe that the tax system already treats the poor generously enough — nearly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes, in most cases because they don’t earn enough money, and there are a large number of programs and grants to assist the poor. These Americans still pay state taxes, property taxes, sales and other taxes. Some add that the government should not subsidize people for having children and that the EITC does this by giving greater benefits to those with more children.

They were presented with a proposal and arguments for and against it, as follows:

Proposal: Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a benefit to low-income workers, to more middle-class workers.

Argument in Favor: The EITC is among the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs. It also increases female work participation, and it has bipartisan support. But it phases out at low levels of income, especially for those without children. Expanding it would provide these benefits to more taxpayers.

Argument Against: Federal revenue is not unlimited. Expanding the EITC to middle-class workers would require either trimming benefits from the working poor or raising taxes to finance the new benefits. Thus, keeping the EITC’s focus on the working poor makes better sense.

After receiving the briefing material, respondents deliberated on the proposals in-person. Finally, they were asked for their final recommendation. On a 0-10 scale, with 5 being “in the middle”, 82% favored the proposal (6-10), including 71% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats. 

Pre-Deliberation Poll
Before receiving any briefing materials or engaging in the deliberation process, respondents were given the same poll question as those asked afterwards. Support increased from the pre-deliberation poll to the post-deliberation poll, overall (73% to 82%) and among Republicans (60% to 71%). Democrats were unchanged. 

Status of Legislation
Currently, there are provisions in the Foster Opportunity EITC Act by Rep. Davis (D) (H.R. 4954) and Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D) (S. 2790) in the 116th Congress that would reform EITC by increasing credits for individuals with no children, extending the age limit for credits from 65 to 68, and lowering the credit eligibility age for individuals with no children. 

There are also provisions in the WRCR Act (H.R. 5271) by Rep. Gwen Moore (D) in the 116th Congress that would reform EITC by increasing the maximum credit to $4,000, counting family caregiving as work, making credits available to certain low-income students, decreasing the eligibility age for workers without children from 25 to 18, and increasing eligibility to over 65.

Neither of these bills have made it out of committee.

Before being presented with the above proposal, respondents were first introduced to this topic by being presented with information about the EITC. They were told that EITC supplements the income of low-wage workers, and that nearly all of EITC goes to workers with children, with credits up to $6,242 a year.  Low-wage workers without children get much less—the maximum is $503 a year.  

They were then told that they would assess three proposals to raise benefits for workers without children:

  • Proposal One: Raise the maximum benefit from $503 to $1,000 (per year).
  • Proposal Two: Increase the maximum earnings they can make and be eligible for EITC from $14,820 to $18,000.
  • Proposal Three: Lower the age when workers without children can first get EITC from 25 to 21.

The argument in favor of increasing benefits was found convincing by a very high and bipartisan 77%, including 70% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats; while the argument against was found convincing by just 58%, including 69% of Republicans but less than half of Democrats.

When asked for their recommendations, six in ten recommended increasing the maximum amount a worker can make and still receive benefits from $14,820 to $18,000, including two thirds of Democrats. Among Republicans 51% were in favor.

Proposals one and three did not get majority support. 

Status of Legislation
The proposals to reform the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for people without children, by increasing the credits, expanding the age of eligibility, and increasing the amount of money a person can make and still be eligible for credits was in H.R.4946 by Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and S.2327 by Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D) in the 114th Congress. These bills did not make it out of committee.

Similar provisions were in the Foster Opportunity EITC Act by Rep. Davis (D) (H.R. 4954) and Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D) (S. 2790) in the 116th Congress, which would increase credits for individuals with no children, extend the age limit for credits from 65 to 68, and lower the credit eligibility age for individuals with no children. These bills did not make it out of committee.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, EITC benefits for workers without children were increased temporarily. President Biden and Democrats in Congress have put forward a proposal to extend these increased benefits for at least three more years.

To address this concern, Members of the 114th Congress introduced House Amendment 138, which would prohibit companies found guilty of wage theft from bidding on government contracts. It failed in the House in 2015. 

In 2016, the Obama administration issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which, among other labor reforms, prevented companies that engaged in wage theft from bidding on government contracts. In 2017, a resolution was passed in both the House (H.J.Res 37) and the Senate (S.J.Res 12) that repealed those regulations.  

Before learning about the specific proposal, respondents were introduced to the topic of wage theft: 

Another problem for the working poor is that they are not always fully paid for the hours they have worked. Research shows that in some industries—especially farming, construction, and restaurants--this is a problem that significantly reduces the pay of low-income workers.  

When a worker is not paid, there is a system in place to deal with it. He or she can make a complaint to the local office of the Labor Department. However, this system is not entirely effective, as there are still many cases of unpaid wages, largely because:

  • The process for getting unpaid wages is slow and cumbersome.
  • Many workers do not even use it, often out of fear that if they do they will get fired.

They were then introduced to a proposal for addressing wage theft:

A proposal in Congress would put greater pressure on companies to pay wages in full, by making it more costly if they are found responsible for unpaid wages while under a government contract.

Currently, if an employer is found guilty of not paying wages under a government contract, the company has to pay those wages plus some interest, but can still make bids to get future government contracts.   

The proposal is that if such a company is found guilty, they will also lose the right to make bids to get future government contracts.  

The argument in favor of this proposal was found convincing by overwhelming majorities of over 85% in both parties, while the argument against did quite poorly, with a bipartisan majority finding it unconvincing.

In making their final recommendation, an overwhelming majority nationally of nine in ten , with similar numbers in both parties, endorsed the proposal to take away a business’ right to bid on government contractors if they are found guilty of wage theft.

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above, 95% agreed with the majority position, including 93% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats. (PPC 2018)

Status of Legislation and Executive Order
The proposal to prohibit companies found guilty of wage theft from bidding on government contracts was in H. Amdt. 138 by Rep. Mark Pocan (D) in the 114th Congress. It failed in the House, with 183 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting in favor and 237 Republicans voting against.

In 2016, the Obama administration issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which prevented companies that engaged in wage theft from bidding on government contracts. 

However, in 2017, H.J. Res 37 sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R) and S.J. Res 12 by Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in the 115th Congress were passed, which repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulations. It passed the House with 233 Republicans and 3 Democrats voting in favor, and 1 Republican and 186 Democrats voting against. It then passed the Senate, with 49 Republicans voting in favor, and 48 Democrats voting against.

Members of the 113th Congress introduced legislation that would implement job creation programs. Respondents were presented proposals based on H.R. 1617, which would invest in job creation programs for school renovation, childcare and early education, community projects, and conservation. 

At the time of the survey -- late 2016 to early 2017-- unemployment was historically low, so the issue was not so much an urgent need, but a more general debate about the role government should play when the demand for jobs is high.  

To understand the idea of job creation programs, respondents were presented the following about unemployment: 

According to the Census Bureau, about 4 million adults are living under the poverty line, are unemployed or underemployed, and are actively seeking work. 

They were then introduced to the idea of government job creation as a potential solution to unemployment:

One possibility is for the federal government to invest funds to create jobs that would employ people who have been unemployed for a period. This would include many who live under or close to the poverty line.

Such jobs can be created by directing extra funds to a federal, state, or local program so that it can hire additional employees. Four examples of possible job creation programs were discussed.

Respondents then evaluated two pairs of arguments. The first pair of arguments concerned the government investing to create jobs.  The argument in favor did far better than the argument against, except among Republicans who found both arguments convincing at similar rates. 

The second pair of arguments concerned the idea that the government should not generally seek to create jobs, but should do so in difficult times. Again, the argument in favor did better than the argument against, except among Republicans who found both arguments convincing at similar rates.

Respondents were then presented four proposals for job creation with costs and the number of jobs they would likely produce.  They were told that “For all these proposals, people who have been unemployed for a period--and are qualified to do the work--would be first to be hired.”

For each program, respondents could choose between three options:

  • Favor program in current economic conditions
  • Favor having this program ready to go if economic conditions get worse, but not starting it now
  • Oppose

A majority or plurality overall favored enacting each of the four programs in current economic conditions, including a majority of Democrats, but not a majority of Republicans. 

Assuming that those respondents who chose to enact the program in current economic conditions would also favor the program if economic conditions get worse, these respondents were combined with those who favored having this program ready if economic conditions get worse.  Thus for all four programs a bipartisan majority favored having such a program if conditions get worse.  

Response Without Undergoing Policymaking Simulation
When a separate sample was told the results of the survey above,  83% agreed with the majority position to “Have ready to go, if economic conditions get worse, a variety of federal jobs programs -- such as employing young people in conservation projects, hiring more workers to expand Head Start, and repairing and renovating schools,” including 69% of Republicans and 95% of Democrats. (PPC 2018)

Related Standard Polls
Bipartisan majorities have expressed support for federal job creation programs:

  • Asked whether they support, “a federal jobs program that created jobs for the unemployed,” 78% were in support, including 71% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats. (October 2019, Hill/HarrisX)
  • Asked whether they would, “vote for or against a federal law that would spend government money for a program designed to help create more than 1 million jobs,” 75% said they would, including 56% of Republicans and 93% of Democrats. (March 2013, Gallup)
  • Asked whether they would, “vote for or against a federal government program that would spend government money to put people to work on urgent infrastructure repairs,” 77% said they would, including 63% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats. (March 2013, Gallup)
  • Asked whether they support a policy to spend, “$100 billion to build and improve public schools,” as part of, “President Biden’s infrastructure plan,” 72% were in support (Democrats 87%, independents 63%, Republicans 62%). (April 2021, Morning Consult/Politico)

When they have been provided options that express ambivalence about Federal jobs programs,a large number of Republican have chosen them, bringing support below half. -- Asked whether they support “federal funding of community job creation for any person who can’t find a job,” 55% were in support, including 75% of Democrats.  Among Republicans just 33% expressed support, less than half (44%) were opposed, while one in four chose chose “neither support nor oppose”(17%), or “not sure” (7%). (July 2018, Data for Progress)

When the federal jobs program is targeted at energy-efficient infrastructure, a bipartisan majority has been in favor, even when provided options that express ambivalence:

  • Asked whether they support, “giving every unemployed American who wants one a job building energy-efficient infrastructure,” 66% were in support, including 81% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans. Just 13% opposed. And one in five chose “neither support nor oppose” (15%) or “not sure” (7%). (November 2018, Data for Progress)

When asked to choose between two clearly partisan strategies for creating jobs, Democrats have favored government spending programs, while Republicans lean slightly toward cutting taxes: 

  • Asked, “What do you think is a better way for the government to try to create jobs--by cutting taxes or by spending money on projects like roads, bridges and technology development,” 52% chose spending on projects (Republicans 35%, Democrats 68%), and 33% chose cutting taxes (Republicans 52%, Democrats 19%). The remainder said both equally (6%), neither (3%) or did not provide an answer (5%), with minimal partisan differences. (August 2012, ABC/Washington Post)

Status of Legislation
The proposals for job creation were in H.R. 1617 sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) in the 113th Congress, which would have invested in job creation programs for school renovation, childcare and early education, community projects, and conservation. This bill did not make it out of committee.

Currently, the Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act (H.R. 4278, S. 2457), sponsored by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) and Sen. Cory Booker (D) in the 116th Congress, would create a three-year pilot program at the Department of Labor to establish a federally funded jobs guarantee program in up to 15 high-unemployment communities. These programs would be run by local officials and jobs would be tailored to the communities’ needs, including infrastructure and clean energy. They would guarantee a job to any adult that wants one. The bill has not yet made it out of committee.

There are also proposals in the Green New Deal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), which would guarantee full employment by federally funding local job creation programs that aid in the transition to a clean-energy economy. The Green New Deal has not yet been introduced as legislation.

The most popular proposal involved having the US Forest Service hire young people to help preserve public lands, which would cost $250 million a year for two years and create 100,000 jobs.  This was favored in current conditions by 57% nationally, 67% of Democrats, and a plurality of Republicans (47%). Combining these with those who favor having a program ready for when economic conditions get worse, support is 82% nationally, 89% among Democrats and 73% among Republicans.

The second most popular program was to hire child care workers and early education teachers to expand Headstart and similar programs, which would cost $3 billion a year for two years and create 100,000 jobs. Three quarters supported at least having this program ready for when economic conditions get worse (in current conditions 54%), including 91% of Democrats (in current conditions 72%) and 58% of Republicans (in current conditions 36%). 

Another program would offer federal grants to states for repairing and renovating elementary and high school buildings, and would cost $50 billion a year for two years and create 650,000 jobs. Eight in ten supported at least having this program ready for when economic conditions get worse (in current conditions 48%), including 93% of Democrats (in current conditions 61%), and 69% of Republicans (in current conditions 35%).

Another program would offer grants to states and local governments for community projects such as reclaiming land affected by pollution, improving energy efficiency in a neighborhood, or renovating older public buildings, and would cost $30 billion a year for two years and create 750,000 jobs. Eight in ten supported at least having this program ready for when economic conditions get worse (in current conditions 49%), including 92% of Democrats (in current conditions 63%) and 69% of Republicans (in current conditions 35%)

OTHER POSITIONS

To address this concern, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) introduced a proposal in 2016 to give states the option of receiving federal funding for poverty programs in the form of a block grant in the “A Better Way” report from the Republican committee‐led task force on “Poverty, Opportunity & Upward Mobility”. 

Respondents were introduced to this debate as follows:

 Another debate about poverty programs is how much they should be administered by the federal government and how much by the states.  

They were then introduced to a proposal which would give states greater control over money for poverty programs:

Advocates for having the states administer poverty programs call for the federal government to transfer program funds to the states as “block grants.”

Here is how a block grant works. For states that want it, the federal government provides them with a specified amount of money to address some broad purpose. The federal government sets the basic rules, but states get more flexibility in using the funds. 

Funding for various federal poverty programs could be combined into a single block grant. Funding for food stamps, housing vouchers, public housing, assistance to the poor for energy bills and weatherizing homes, and services that help unemployed workers find work could all be combined into a block grant for states. 

Both arguments for and against were found convincing by a majority overall, but the argument in favor did better. The pro argument was found convincing by a similar majority of Democrats and Republicans, while the con argument was found convincing by a large majority of Democrats, but only a bare majority of Republicans.

Six in ten overall, including 54% of Democrats and two thirds of Republicans, approved of the idea of states having the option of receiving Federal poverty program funds in the form of block grants for some programs, which the states would then administer. 

Status of Proposal
The 2016 proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) to give states the option of receiving federal funding for poverty programs in the form of a block grant was in the "A Better Way" report by the Republican committee‐led task force on “Poverty, Opportunity & Upward Mobility”. It did not make it into legislation.

To address this concern, some experts and lawmakers have proposed that the federal government provide every person with regular cash grants of money. This is referred to as universal basic income.

To understand this issue, respondents were presented with the following briefing material as part of an in-person deliberation conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy in September 2019:

For decades, as worker productivity rose, wages typically increased along with it. But starting around 1970, even as workers continued to grow more productive, their wages became stuck in the same place. Some people point out that total compensation packages, including health insurance, pension contributions, and similar benefits, have kept closer pace with productivity. Still, the middle class has stagnated economically.

What policies might fix this problem?

Another proposal is to provide a Universal Basic Income that would give all working-age adults a cash grant, perhaps $1,000 monthly, whether they work or not, and no matter how much money they make. 

Supporters argue that it provides an important safety net against poverty, and, more importantly, allows people to make long-term investments in themselves. The certainty of receiving the UBI would allow people to invest in their education, develop their own business ideas, build wealth for retirement, or just keep out of debt from medical bills and other expenses. Not only would a UBI help people stay out of poverty, but it could grow the economy.

Opponents complain that it would be quite expensive, though perhaps it could replace other welfare programs. Some of the debate about UBI centers on whether it would be a supplement to current welfare programs or a replacement. Critics of current programs argue it is more efficient to just give people cash to spend as they need it, rather than allocate some government welfare dollars to food, others to health care, some to education, etc. If the UBI does replace existing welfare programs, it could result in reducing federal assistance to the very neediest, who may currently receive more than $1,000 per month in government support through various programs. 

Opponents also argue that a UBI provides an incentive not to work because people will be paid whether they work or not, which will mean that many able-bodied adults might simply choose not to work or to work much less. The proposal taxes those who work in order to give money to everyone. Also, say critics, some people might not spend the money wisely: instead of investing in education, they might engage in recreational activities or buy illicit drugs.

They were presented with a proposal and arguments for and against it, as follows:

Proposal: The government should give cash grants of $1,000/month to all adults at least 18-years-old.

Argument in Favor: This program might be more effective than other anti-poverty initiatives because it lets people decide how their money is best spent. It may also reduce the government’s administrative costs because it would not need to determine and keep track of who is eligible. And it could permit people to make longer-term investments, such as in their education, because they are less desperate to take low-paying jobs to make ends meet.

Argument Against: Such cash grants would need to be funded somehow, either by the federal government raising taxes or borrowing more money. Cash grants also may reduce people’s incentive to work because they will receive the money whether they work or not. And, there is a risk that people will not spend the money to make long-term investments in themselves, but on frivolous or impulsive things.

After receiving the briefing material, respondents deliberated on the proposals in-person. Finally, they were asked for their final recommendation. On a 0-10 scale, 82% opposed (0-4) the proposal, including 98% of Republicans and 72% of Democrats. 

Pre-Deliberation Poll
Before receiving any briefing materials or engaging in the deliberation process respondents were given the same poll question as those asked afterwards. Opposition (0-4) increased from the pre-deliberation poll to the post-deliberation poll, overall (68% to 82%), and among Republicans (90% to 98%) and Democrats (51% to 72%). 

Related Standard Polls
A bipartisan majority has been opposed to providing $1,000 per month to every adult American:

  • Asked whether they, “think a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month for each American 18 or older is a good idea or a bad idea,” 27% said it is a good idea (Republicans 11%, Democrats 41%) and 68% a bad idea (Republicans 86%, Democrats 52%). (December 2019, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist) 

When the $1,000 monthly check is funded by tax increases on high incomes, the public has been divided, with a majority of Republicans opposed and a modest majority of Democrats in favor. A large number chose the middle option or were not sure, suggesting significant ambivalence :

  • Asked whether they, “support or oppose giving every American a monthly check from the government of $1,000, which would be paid for by raising taxes on individuals earning more than $150,000 a year,” 40% were opposed (Republicans 65%, Democrats 23%), and 38% in support (Republicans 21%, Democrats 54%). Another 14% neither supported nor opposed (Republicans 8%, Democrats 16%), and 8% were “not sure” with minimal partisan differences. (July 2018, Data for Progress)

Respondents were presented the following briefing material as part of an in-person deliberation conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy in September 2019:

For decades, as worker productivity rose, wages typically increased along with it. But starting around 1970, even as workers continued to grow more productive, their wages became stuck in the same place. Some people point out that total compensation packages, including health insurance, pension contributions, and similar benefits, have kept closer pace with productivity. Still, the middle class has stagnated economically.

What policies might fix this problem?

The “baby bonds” proposal would provide each child born in America with a US treasury bond. The government would make further yearly contributions to this fund for lower-income Americans, so it would grow into a substantial sum of money — nearly $50,000, according to politicians who support the proposal — by the time the bonds mature and the children reach adulthood. This proposal is based on the idea that the most prosperous members of the older generation have a responsibility to give younger Americans a fair start in the free market.

Baby bonds would ensure that every child, no matter his or her race, region, or family income, would enter adulthood with some wealth already built up. In addition to narrowing the wealth gap between classes and races, baby bonds could be used to fund education or to prevent people from going into debt to cover essential costs such as medical bills or child care. Easing the burden of paying for these services could boost female workforce participation and the security and wealth of many single-parent families. Those who use bonds to fund further education can delay their entry into the workforce until they are more skilled and more mature, potentially leading to better job prospects and higher lifelong earnings.

Opponents of this proposal argue that it would be costly and require a funding source, such as higher income taxes. Also, people may not spend the wealth in productive ways. Some supporters favor restricting how people spend these bonds. For example, the proposal in the U.S. Senate limits uses of the fund to purposes such as education, home ownership, and retirement. Others would give a financial incentive to convert baby bonds into an individual retirement account (IRA).

They were presented a proposal and arguments for and against it, as follows:

Proposal: The government should fund a bond for each child born that will accumulate in value until the child turns 18. At that time, they could use it for higher education or something else to help start up their lives.

Argument in Favor: Inequality has accelerated in the last generation, and many young people lack funds to pay for education, find the right job, start a family, or begin saving for retirement. Only the top 10% of young people can rely on adequate family support. Baby bonds would dramatically lessen the racial wealth gap and other inequalities by ensuring all Americans a fair start in adult life.

Argument Against: The payments to children would have to be paid for, likely with higher income taxes. The government would have to ensure that children do not simply “take the money and run,” rather than investing it in a societal good like education. The proposal may also discourage parents from paying for their children’s needs, as the government will do so.

After receiving the briefing material, respondents deliberated on the proposals in-person. Finally, they were asked for their final recommendation. On a 0-10 scale, 73% opposed (0-4) the proposal, including 88% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats. 

Pre-Deliberation Poll
Before receiving any briefing materials or engaging in the deliberation process respondents were given the same poll question as those asked afterwards. Initially a plurality (43%) was favorable (6-10) while 38% were opposed (0-4). Democrats were 62% favorable (6-10), while Republicans were 66% opposed (0-4). Opposition increased from the pre-deliberation poll to the post-deliberation poll, overall (38% to 73%), among Republicans (66% to 88%) and a remarkable amount among Democrats (16% to 59%). 

Related Standard Polls
The public has been divided along partisan lines over whether to give every American a savings account at birth that can only be accessed when they are 18, with a substantial number not expressing an opinion either way, suggesting ambivalence:

  • Asked whether they support, “giving every American a $5,000 savings account at birth that they can access when they turn 18,” 40% were in support (Democrats 52%, Republicans 24%) and 38% opposed (Democrats 22%, Republicans 60%). Another one in five chose “neither support nor oppose” (15%, Democrats 18%, Republicans 12%) or “not sure” (7%). (July 2018, Data for Progress)

Status of Legislation
The American Opportunity Accounts Act, sponsored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D) (H.R. 3922) and Sen. Cory Booker (D) (S. 2231) in the 116th Congress, would provide each child born in the US a savings account with $1,000. In addition, the federal government would deposit up to $2,000 each year depending on their family’s income. These bills have not made it out of committee.