Nearly One-Third of US Adults Supports Build Back Better

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More adults in the U.S. support than oppose President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan, according to a new survey from The Balance, while over half believe it will raise inflation. Over 30% of those surveyed are in favor of the sweeping social infrastructure plan that includes reduced prescription medication, and immigration and tax reforms.

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly one-third of U.S. adults surveyed by The Balance support President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
  • Over half of those who are aware of Build Back Better believe it will raise inflation.
  • Lowering prescription drug costs was a top issue among respondents, while only 41% felt the government should support canceling student loans.

Roughly one in five adults surveyed opposes BBB, but, according to our data, about 38% have never even heard of the plan. The White House has said it will reduce inflation over time, but 53% of respondents who are aware of the BBB plan think it will raise inflation. Nearly 20% of those surveyed believe it will have no impact, while 14% think it will lower inflation. 

Inflation is one of the top issues among people in the U.S., with 56% of respondents highlighting its importance to them, second only to health care, at 69%. Foreign policy was the issue of least importance to respondents, but the survey was conducted before the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The Balance surveyed more than 1,800 adults in the U.S. Over one-third (36%) of respondents identified their political affiliation as conservative, while nearly a quarter said they are liberal. The rest consider themselves independent, with more leaning conservative than liberal

Political Divides

Survey respondents showed broad support for the Build Back Better plan, but there was a large political divide between conservatives and liberals who are familiar with the plan. Among conservatives, half of those aware of BBB oppose it, while one-third support it. On the other hand, an overwhelming number of liberals aware of BBB support the measure (76%), while 6% don’t.

The White House has said that the legislation would be “fully paid for” over time through a combination of increased taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, and investment into the country’s tax agency. Over 40% of Americans aware of BBB support the proposals to fund the plan, while just 33% don’t.  

But a large portion of adults in the U.S. doesn’t believe the policies will actually pay for the expensive package. 

Less than half of those surveyed who have heard of the plan are familiar with the measures to fund it, and among that group, 41% don’t expect that BBB will be paid for like the White House said it will.

The Balance surveyed U.S. adults on 31 policies, 29 of which received over 50% support from respondents. The top three most popular BBB policies were related to health care, with 79% of respondents supporting lower prescription drug costs.

Expanding federal college grants to DREAMers (a person living in the U.S. without official authorization since coming to the country as a minor) was the least popular policy, though 47% said they still back the initiative.

One interesting finding from the survey was a lack of support for measures that would cancel student loans. Only 41% of respondents want to cancel student loans, despite increased calls from progressives to President Biden to use executive powers to eliminate $50,000 of student debt.

Taxing the Rich Remains Popular

A majority of those surveyed—63%—support increasing taxes on the country’s wealthiest individuals. It’s a policy supported by both conservatives and liberals: 57% of conservatives support a 5% tax increase on Americans earning more than $10 million, while 72% of liberals agree with the hike. 

And though it might seem counterintuitive, people earning more than $100,000 said they are more likely to support tax reforms proposed in Build Back Better, compared to those that earn less than $50,000.

Support for BBB tax reforms also crosses generational divides: Boomers and older adults (aged 58 and older) and Millennials (aged 26 to 41) backed tax reform policies at similar rates. Taxing the rich had the highest support among Boomers and older adults at 67%, while 66% of Millennials agreed with increasing taxes on individuals earning more than $10 million.

Comfortable majorities of both age groups also supported higher taxes on corporations and closing tax loopholes on cryptocurrencies. Unsurprisingly, the youngest generation surveyed, Gen Z (aged 18 to 25), was the least likely to support six of the seven tax reform policies.

Looking to the Future

Overall, more than half of the U.S. adults we surveyed said they’re hopeful about the future of the nation, though one-third remains “fearful.” Younger generations were more hopeful for the future than older age groups, with Millennials being the most optimistic generation—64% said they were hopeful for the future, while 56% of Gen Z showed optimism.

Nearly half of Boomers and older adults (the oldest generation surveyed) were fearful for the country’s future, followed by 32% of Gen X (aged 42 to 57).

Methodology

The Balance surveyed 1,800 U.S. adults (aged 18+) from Feb. 8 to Feb. 13, 2022. The survey was fielded online via a self-administered questionnaire to an opt-in panel of respondents from a market research vendor. Respondents were required to be eligible to vote to qualify. Quotas were used to ensure national representation for generation, gender, race/ethnicity, and region using estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey as a benchmark.

Correction - March 7, 2022: This article was updated to correct the percentage of respondents that said they back the initiative to expand federal college grants to DREAMers. The article was originally published on March 7, 2022.

Additional research by
Amanda Morelli
Amanda Morelli, Director of Brand and Market Insights at Dotdash
Full Bio
Amanda Morelli is the senior director of data journalism at Dotdash (The Balance's parent company), and she oversees development of data journalism projects for publications across the company. She designs and executes original research and analysis, and identifies opportunities and strategies for exploration.
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and
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash
Full Bio
Adrian Nesta is a Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates Investopedia. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.
Learn about our editorial policies

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