Center for American Progress

Public Rejects ‘You’re on Your Own’ Economics

Public Rejects ‘You’re on Your Own’ Economics

Most Americans think government help for the poor is a good thing.

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Economist Jared Bernstein aptly summed up conservative views on the economy with the phrase “You’re on your own,” or YOYO. This YOYO economics posits that every individual should make his or her way in the economy without government help, which does more harm than good. In fact, according to YOYO economics, the root of our economic problems is that government won’t get out of the way and let individuals flourish on their own.

Well, conservatives may believe devoutly in YOYO economics, but the public is definitely not on their side. Consider these findings from the Public Religion Research Institute’s just-released 2012 American Values Survey. In that survey, the public was asked whether the primary cause of America’s problems is an economic system that results in continuing inequality and poverty. By a margin of 62 percent to 35 percent, respondents agreed that inequality and poverty are systemic problems in our society.

In the same poll, the public was asked whether government policies help the poor by providing a safety net to help them get back on their feet or whether these policies create a culture of dependency by providing handouts. By an almost 2-to-1 ratio (63 percent to 32 percent), respondents backed the positive view of the safety net over the negative one.

YOYO economics may warm the hearts of conservatives, but for the public, it looks like a nonstarter.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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