By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan is loaded with road repairs, internet upgrades and other initiatives that are widely popular on their own, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, but U.S. public support declines when the initiatives are packed into a Democratic bill and sold as a Biden-backed plan.
The March 31-April 1 national opinion poll highlights the challenges facing Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress as they roll out the American Jobs Plan in front of Republican opposition and a hyper-partisan American public.
While most Americans, including many Republicans, like the ideas in the plan in general, they are less likely to support legislation written by Democrats to make those ideas a reality, the poll shows.
Democrats control both chambers of Congress by narrow margins, and the prospects for passage could be difficult if Republicans line up against the plan.
Republican leaders have been sharply critical of the planned expansion of federal spending, especially if it is financed with tax increases. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the plan "another Trojan horse for far-left demands."
Some Democratic leaders also have raised issues.
Economists at Georgetown University estimate a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment could create 15 million jobs.
The poll found:
\- 79% of Americans supported a government overhaul of American roadways, railroads, bridges, and ports.
\- 71% supported a plan to extend high-speed internet to all Americans.
\- 68% supported an initiative to replace every lead pipe in the country.
\- 66% supported tax credits for renewable energy.
Americans also were largely supportive of ways that Biden has proposed to pay for his massive infrastructure bill. According to the poll, 64% of U.S adults supported a tax hike on corporations and large businesses, and 56% supported ending tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.
However, public support appeared to dip when the survey switched from general questions about infrastructure to more specific queries about a Biden-endorsed plan.
Only 45% of Americans said they would support a jobs and infrastructure plan that was "recently released by the Biden administration." Another 27% said they were opposed and the remaining 28% said they were not sure.
The decline in support appears to be mostly a partisan reaction: only about two in 10 Republicans and three in 10 independents said they supported a Biden infrastructure plan, compared with seven out of 10 Democrats.
Republicans and independents also have expressed very little trust this year in the Democratic-led Congress.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll in February found that 57% of Republicans and 53% of independents said they had “hardly any confidence at all” in the legislative branch.
In short, while Americans generally want road repairs and other improvements, many are skeptical of Congress’ ability to put a good infrastructure plan together, and most Republicans are opposed to a reform that was written by Democrats.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,005 American adults, including 398 who identified as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents and 445 Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Chris Kahn in New York; Editing by Heather Timmons and Howard Goller)