Program for Public Consultation (PPC)

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The Program for Public Consultation (PPC) is joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. PPC was established to develop the methods and theory of public consultation and to conduct public consultations. In particular it will work with government agencies to help them consult their citizens on key public policy issues that the government faces. The Center on Policy Attitudes was established in 1992 with the express purpose of giving the public a greater voice in the public policy process. Its staff includes social scientists trained in various forms of research, especially survey research, as well as having broad background in public policy.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 37
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    Americans on U.S. Role in the Ukraine-Russia War
    (2023-07) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"; Thomas, JP; Bunn, Davis; Sapp, Bethany
    In March of 2022, Russia launched a full invasion of Ukraine. The United Nations, including the US, quickly declared this invasion to be an act of aggression that violates Ukraine’s national sovereignty as guaranteed by the UN Charter. The invasion triggered a series of debates over the US’ role in this conflict: ● the degree of US intervention, if any; ● how to weigh any benefits of intervention against the risk of Russia escalating to nuclear attacks; ● whether to press Ukraine to enter peace negotiations, and if so, under what conditions. A bipartisan majority of seven-in-ten voters favor the US continuing to provide significant military aid to Ukraine to help in their ongoing war with Russia, according to an in-depth study by the Program for Public Consultation together with the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. Continuing to provide military aid to Ukraine, including military equipment, ammunition, training and intelligence, was favored by 69%, including 55% of Republicans, 87% of Democrats and 58% of independents. The sample was large enough to enable analysis of attitudes in very Republican and very Democratic districts based on Cook PVI ratings. In both very red and very blue congressional districts, equally large majorities (71%) favored continuing military aid.
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    Survey: Ban on Stock Trading for Members of Congress Favored by Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority
    (2023-07) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"; Thomas, JP
    Overwhelming bipartisan majorities favor prohibiting stock-trading in individual companies by Members of Congress (86%, Republicans 87%, Democrats 88%, independents 81%), as well as the President, Vice President, and Supreme Court Justices (87%, Republicans 87%, Democrats 90%, independents 82%) according to an in-depth survey by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.
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    Large Bipartisan Majorities Favor Prohibiting Sale of Property and Oil Reserves to Affiliates of Foreign Adversaries
    (2023-07) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"; Thomas, JP
    – Large bipartisan majorities favor proposals that would prohibit the sale of US real estate and oil reserves to entities linked to foreign adversaries, including China and Russia. Three-quarters (73%) support a prohibition on the sale of property, including farmland; while 72% support a prohibition on selling oil from US oil reserves, according to an in-depth study by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. Concerns among Members of Congress over the US’ economic relations with its adversaries, particularly China, have been on the rise. This has been caused in part by increasing purchases of US agricultural land by Chinese companies; as well as the sale of US oil reserves to Chinese energy companies. Members of Congress and state legislatures have introduced legislation to address this issue. Rep. Gallagher, the Chairman of the House select committee on China, recently put forward a bipartisan bill which would give federal officials greater authority to block companies affiliated with foreign adversaries from acquiring certain US lands, particularly those near sensitive sites (e.g. military bases, telecommunication infrastructure.)
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    Term Limits for Members of Congress
    (2023-03-21) Steven Kull; Evan Fehsenfeld; Evan "Charles" Lewitus
    Efforts to establish term limits on Members of Congress have been undertaken for nearly a century, with the first Congressional vote taking place in 1945. States have also tried to put term limits on their own federal legislators, and currently over half of states have such laws on their books, but they were struck down by the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that a constitutional amendment is needed to establish term limits on federal legislators, and thus requires support from two thirds of Congress or two thirds of states. Congress almost achieved this in 1995, after the Supreme Court decision, but fell a few dozen votes short. That was the last time there was a vote on term limits in Congress. An overwhelming majority (83%) favored passing a constitutional amendment to establish term limits in Congress, with little difference between partisans: 86% of Republicans, 80% of Democrats and 84% of independents. Bipartisan support for this proposal has remained steady since PPC’s first public consultation survey on term limits in 2017, which found 80% in support (Republicans 88%, Democrats 73%).
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    Two-Thirds of Voters Favor a $15 Federal Minimum Wage, $12 Gets Bipartisan Support
    (2023-04-06) Steven Kull; Evan Fehsenfeld; Evan "Charles" Lewitus
    An in-depth study conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy finds that two-thirds of American voters favor raising the federal minimum wage to $15, including a majority of Democrats but less than half of Republicans. However, there is bipartisan majority support for a $12 minimum wage.
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    Six-in-Ten Voters Favor Carbon Fee and Rebate Plan
    (2021-03) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"
    Bipartisan Majority Rejects Suspending Regulations on Emissions as Part of Plan – A new in-depth national survey finds that 62% of registered voters favor one of the few proposals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions that has support from both Republican and Democratic leaders — the carbon fee and rebate. This proposal would charge a fee on energy companies per ton of emissions (to encourage transitions to alternative energy sources), with a substantial portion of the costs presumably passed on to consumers in the form of higher energy costs (to encourage efficiency). To offset the higher energy costs, the revenue from the fee would be returned as a rebate to consumers on an equal basis. For low to middle income consumers the rebate would more than offset the higher energy costs. This proposal has been promoted by former Republican officials James Baker and the recent George Schultz as part of the Climate Leadership Council and was endorsed in a recent letter signed by over 3,500 economists, including dozens of Nobel Laureate winners, former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers, and former Chairs of the Federal Reserve Board, including both Republicans and Democrats. Variations of the proposal appear in several pieces of Congressional legislation including H.R. 763, S. 2284, H.R. 4051, S. 1128, S. 4484 and H.R. 4142 from the 116th Congress.
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    Two-in-Three Voters Favor Creating National Green Bank
    (2021-06) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"
    In a new in-depth survey, two-thirds of registered voters favored legislation calling for the federal government to create a national green bank to invest in and promote private investment in clean energy. Green banks are public, non-profit banks and currently exist at state and local levels. The legislative proposal respondents evaluated is called the National Climate Bank Act, which would create a national bank with $35 billion of seed money, to support existing green banks, help to create new ones in US cities and states, and invest directly in clean energy projects. The basis of the legislative proposals were two bills in the 116th Congress (National Green Bank Act and National Climate Bank Act). The National Climate Bank Act has been resubmitted in the 117th Congress and is earmarked at a higher level of funding.
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    Large Majorities Favor Congressional Proposals Limiting Negative Consequences of Criminal Records
    (2021-04-15) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"
    Large majorities of American voters support reforms that would limit or remove barriers to economic opportunities, housing, and voting for people with criminal records. A representative sample of 2,487 American voters were given a detailed presentation of numerous proposed Congressional reforms that would restrict employers, licensing boards and public housing authorities from disqualifying people based on their criminal records. All of the proposed reforms received support from large bipartisan majorities. A proposal for automatically restoring the right to vote for people who have served a felony sentence also received majority support, though Republicans were divided. Additionally, bipartisan majorities favored both making it easier for those who were arrested but never convicted to have their record sealed, as well as automatically sealing records for people with non-violent drug offenses after a short period of time.
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    Bipartisan Majorities Favor Tax Incentives For Clean Energy and Efficiency
    (2020-11-13) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles
    A new in-depth survey finds bipartisan majorities support a number of tax incentives that seek to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The proposals, all introduced in Congress, include measures to encourage developing alternative sources of clean energy–such as solar and wind, making homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient, and the use of electric vehicles. The support from majorities of Republicans and Democrats was rooted in voter concern about the health effects of fossil fuels as well as their impact on climate.
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    Americans on Police Reform
    (2020-07-14) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan "Charles"
    For decades now, there have been periodic efforts to reform police practices and laws regarding the use of force, especially deadly force, by law enforcement officers. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and other incidents of law enforcement officers using deadly force have stimulated protest and demands for policing reforms. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120), sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), The JUSTICE Act (S. 3985), sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), failed to get cloture in the U.S. Senate, meaning the measure could not proceed for debate or a vote. . The provisions in these two bills continue to the basis for ongoing debates over police reform, including: ● when police officers should use deadly force; ● what types of force police officers should be able to use, such as chokeholds; ● the use of no-knock warrants; ● the standards by which officers are held accountable for their use of excessive force; ● whether racial bias among police is a problem to be addressed; and ● how much regulation there should be of military equipment transferred to the police. Both bills address these issues, to different extents. The most significant difference between the House bill and the Senate bill is how mandatory the proposed reforms are. The House bill would require that police departments and local governments implement new policies or be denied access to federal funding for police departments. The Senate bill would offer police departments new funding for training and data collection, and only in a few cases requires that police departments adopt new policies. The House bill also includes provisions to change the standards by which officers are criminally convicted and held civilly liable, which the Senate bill does not. To bring the American people a voice at the table of the current debate on this legislation, the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) has conducted an in-depth on-line survey of over 3,000 registered voters with a probability-based sample provided by Nielsen Scarborough. Unlike standard polls that rely on respondents’ existing impressions and information, PPC took respondents through a process called a ‘policymaking simulation’ that seeks to put respondents in the shoes of a policymaker. Respondents: ● are given a briefing on policy options under consideration ● evaluate strongly stated arguments both for and against each option ● make their final recommendation. The content of the process is thoroughly reviewed by experts across the spectrum of opinion on the policy options to ensure that the briefing is accurate and balanced and that the arguments are the strongest ones being made by proponents and opponents.
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    Americans on Solving the Medicare Shortfall
    (2017-10-31) Kull, Steven; Ramsay, Clay; Lewis (aka Fehsenfeld), Evan; Williams, Antje
    Given current policy crosscurrents, it is little wonder that even raising the subject of Medicare policy seems to open the door to anxiety among the public and among Medicare recipients. This consultation seeks to provide a framework that lets the public consider multiple possible changes that experts have evaluated and scored, without being locked into an “either/or” choice of keeping everything the same versus changing the nature of Medicare. DEVELOPMENT OF THE POLICYMAKING SIMULATION The present policymaking simulation includes eleven different options estimated to aid Medicare’s fiscal condition over the next 25 years, as the babyboomer generation passes through the program. These options selected were previously scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), except for one scored by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission or MEDPAC, another independent agency that advises Congress. They considered sixteen reform options which fell under four categories:  Reducing Medicare’s Net Payments for Benefits  Reducing Payments to Providers  Increasing Revenues  Controlling Costs in Other Ways
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    Large Scale Study Finds Majorities in Very Red Districts Oppose Key Provisions in Tax Reform Bill
    (2017-11-29) Kull, Steven; Lewis (aka Fehsenfeld), Evan; Martens, Francesca; Koeppel, Austin
    An in-depth survey on tax reform finds that majorities in very red districts, as well as very blue districts, oppose key provisions in the Republican tax reform bills including reducing taxes on the wealthy, reducing the corporate tax, eliminating or limiting state and local tax deductions, and eliminating the tax on income from subsidiaries in other countries. However, very red districts favor, while very blue districts oppose, eliminating the estate tax, lowering the tax on pass-through businesses, lowering the cap on the mortgage deduction, and allowing immediate expensing by businesses for a five year period. The study, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), was released by Voice of the People, a nonpartisan organization seeking to give citizens a greater voice in public policy. The sample of 2,637 registered voters was large enough to make it possible to divide the sample six ways according to the partisan dominance of the respondent’s district, ranging from very red (Republican) to very blue (Democrat), based on Cook’s PVI ratings.
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    Americans on Tax Reform
    (2017-11-21) Kull, Steven; Lewis (aka Fehsenfeld), Evan; Martens, Francesca; Koeppel, Austin
    INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAXES Income Taxes on the Wealthy ‐ When presented the effective tax rates for different income brackets, for incomes over $200,000, less than a quarter favored reductions, including fewer than four in ten Republicans and less than a third in very red districts. Rather an overall majority favored increasing taxes by 5% or more for incomes over $200,000, with this majority increasing at progressively higher income brackets. Among Republicans, nearly half favored increases on incomes over $500,000, while in very red districts this was a majority. Income Taxes on the Middle Class ‐ Modest majorities proposed reducing taxes on those with incomes from $30,000 to $50,000 by 5%. This included a substantial majority of Republicans, only half of Democrats, but a modest majority in very blue districts. For income of $50,000 to $100,000 there was no majority support for increases or decreases, but a majority of Republicans cut taxes by 5%. Deducting State and Local Taxes ‐ Nearly seven in ten, including a majority of Republicans and six in ten in very red districts, opposed the proposal in the House bill to eliminate the deductions for state and local taxes on individual federal income taxes, including property taxes. Six in ten opposed the proposal in the Senate bill to eliminate the deductions for state and local taxes, with an exception for $10,000 for property taxes. In this case, a majority of Republicans favored the proposal, but a substantial majority in very red districts were opposed. Mortgage Deduction ‐ Views were divided on the proposal to lower the maximum amount of deductible interest for new mortgages to the interest paid on $500,000 on all home mortgages. Six in ten Republicans favored the proposal, while six in ten Democrats were opposed. Very red and very blue districts were similarly polarized. Reducing and Then Eliminating the Estate Tax ‐ A modest majority opposed eliminating the estate tax in six years and in the meantime doubling the amount that can be transferred tax‐free. Three quarters of Democrats and six in ten independents opposed the proposal while three-quarters of Republicans favored it. In blue districts, majorities were opposed, including six in ten in very blue districts. In very red districts a majority favored it, but in other red districts views were divided. CORPORATE TAXES Corporate Tax Rates ‐ Six in ten opposed lowering the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, including eight in 10 Democrats and two-thirds of independents. Two-thirds of Republicans favored the idea, but majorities opposed it in red districts, including nearly six in ten in very red districts. Territorial Tax ‐ The least popular proposal, opposed by nearly seven in ten, is to eliminate the U.S. corporate income tax on profits made by their subsidiaries in other countries. More than eight in ten Democrats and nearly seven in ten independents were opposed. Republicans were evenly divided, but in very red districts nearly seven in ten were opposed. Pass‐Through Businesses ‐ Overall views were divided about the proposal in the House bill to set a new maximum tax rate for owners of 'pass‐through' businesses at 25%. Three quarters of Democrats and a slight majority of independents were opposed while three-quarters of Republicans were in favor. Very red districts were in favor, while very blue districts were opposed. Immediate Expensing ‐ Views are divided on the proposal to allow businesses for the next five years to deduct the full amount of their investments (other than buildings) in the year they make the investments. Three‐quarters of Republicans favor the proposal, while nearly three-quarters of Democrats are opposed. Very red districts were in favor, while very blue districts were opposed.
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    Overwhelming Bipartisan Majorities Favor Greater Restrictions on Lobbying by Former Government Officials
    (2017-12) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles; Martens, Francesca
    Overwhelming bipartisan majorities support proposed legislation that calls for extending the period that former government officials must wait before they can lobby the government and prohibiting former executive branch officials from ever lobbying on behalf of foreign governments. Similarly, large majorities favor ending the support the government currently provides for former US Presidents. Currently, former Members of Congress are prohibited from lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office. Proposed legislation H.R. 383 by Rep. Posey [R-FL-8], H.R. 796 by Rep. DeSantis [R-FL-6], H.R. 1951 by Rep. O’Halleran [D-AZ-1] and H.R. 346 by Rep. Trott [R-MI-11] calls for extending this period to five years. In the survey, 77 percent approved of such an extension, including 80% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats.
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    Overwhelming Bi-Partisan Majority Opposes Allowing Churches, Other Nonprofits, to Engage in Political Activity
    (2017-11-28) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Martens, Francesca; Lewitus, Evan Charles
    An overwhelming majority of 79% voters oppose the proposal to allow churches and other non-profit organizations to endorse political candidates and provide them money and other support. This includes 71% of Republicans as well as 88% of Democrats and 78% on independents. Most (55%) say it is ‘very important’ to keep the current law. The proposal to reverse the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits political activity by tax-exempt organizations, is in the House tax reform bill and in other proposed legislation, including H.R. 172, H.R. 781, and S. 264.
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    Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority Opposes Repealing Net Neutrality
    (2017-12) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Martens, Francesca; Lewitus, Evan Charles
    Overwhelming bipartisan majorities oppose the plan that the Federal Communications Commission will consider this Thursday, December 14, to repeal the regulations requiring net neutrality. Respondents were given a short briefing and asked to evaluate arguments for and against the proposal before making their final recommendation. The survey content was reviewed by experts in favor and against net neutrality, to ensure that the briefing was accurate and balanced and that the strongest arguments were presented. At the conclusion, 83% opposed repealing net neutrality, including 75% of Republicans, as well as 89% of Democrats and 86% of independents.
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    Six in Ten Support the Alexander-Murray Healthcare Fixes
    (2018-01) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles; Martens, Francesca
    A new in-depth survey presented the three key provisions of the Alexander Murray bill, that addresses issues with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to a sample of 2,511 registered voters and had them evaluate arguments for and against each provision. In the end, all three proposals were endorsed by about six in ten voters. These include allowing Americans age 30 and up to have low cost, high deductible ‘copper plans,’ and reversing the Trump administration cuts for health-care cost subsidies for low-income people, and cuts for outreach and education for the ACA exchanges. One of the most controversial aspects of the ACA is that Americans age 30 and up cannot have what are called ‘copper plans,’ which have lower premiums but require patients to pay nearly all of the medical costs until they meet the high deductible of $7,150. The proposal in the Alexander-Murray bill is to allow older people to have such low-cost plans as well.
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    Large Majorities Oppose Trump Administration Move to Allow More Offshore Drilling, Ease Inspection Requirements
    (2018-05) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles; Martens, Francesca
    A new survey of registered voters finds that 60% oppose the Trump Administration’s proposal to lift the ban on oil drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and to expand the allowed area around Alaska. In the 17 states along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts that would be affected by the lifting of the ban, 64% are opposed. Respondents were told that among the 17 states that would be affected by the ban, in 15 of them the governors have requested a waiver that would keep the current drilling ban in place. Seventy-one percent of respondents favored granting these states such a waiver.
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    (2019-08) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles; Koeppel, Austin; Read, Emmaly
    As Congress lifts the national debt ceiling, increasing the budget deficit, a unique survey has found that bipartisan majorities are ready to cut the deficit by $376 billion, primarily by raising taxes on high incomes. The survey participants—who were shown the current deficit, and given the opportunity to propose changes in spending and taxes—proposed reversing the 2017 tax cuts for incomes over $200,000, treating capital gains and dividends as ordinary income for those with incomes over $200,000, and applying an extra tax of 4% on income over $5 million. In the interactive online survey, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), a sample of 2,403 registered voters were presented the discretionary budget (broken into 34 line items) and the budget deficit for 2019. They were given the opportunity to modify spending levels up or down, getting immediate feedback on the impact of their changes on the deficit. While Congress is headed for increasing the defense budget, in the survey a majority cut it $51 billion (Republicans $14 billion, Democrats $101 billion). Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats cut subsidies to agricultural corporations by $7 billion and spending on federal enforcement of federal laws by $2 billion. While majorities of Republicans and Democrats made small increases to some programs, this did not extend to the majority of the whole sample. Overall, the majority made net reductions in spending of $70 billion. Republicans cut $52 billion, Democrats $111 billion, and converged on cuts of $27 billion.
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    Public Supports Reforming How Members of Congress are Elected
    (2018-04) Kull, Steven; Fehsenfeld, Evan; Lewitus, Evan Charles; Martens, Francesca
    Majorities of voters support a number of bold reforms to change how members of Congress are elected, including having congressional districts drawn by independent citizen commissions, and adopting ranked choice voting and multi-member districts, according to a new, in-depth survey from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation. These three reforms comprise new legislation – The Fair Representation Act – sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and cosponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md). The highest level of support was for changing the way that House congressional districts are designed—a prominent issue now that the Supreme Court is considering whether the federal government should prevent state legislatures from designing congressional districts to the benefit of the dominant party, popularly known as gerrymandering.