Public Strongly Supports Economic Recovery Plan

New polls show that the public supports the stimulus—even when told about the price tag, deficit, and new spending, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Conservatives showed remarkable unanimity this week in opposing President Obama’s stimulus plan. Their reasons? Too much spending, too few tax cuts, too big an effect on the deficit. In taking this position, they’re trying to pose as the true friends of U.S. taxpayers.

There’s only one problem: The taxpayers themselves actually support the plan and seem unfazed by the very things the conservatives are complaining so loudly about.

A recent Diageo/Hotline poll asked half of the sample whether they supported an $825 billion plan “even if it means increasing the federal budget deficit in order to do so.” That query elicited a 20-point margin (54-34) in favor.

Chart One

This shows that the public favors the recovery and reinvestment plan even with the price tag and even when it is stipulated that the plan will increase the deficit. But what about the thing that really gets conservatives upset—the fact that there’s twice as much new spending as tax cuts? Well, the Diageo/Hotline poll asked the other half of the sample the same question as above, but specified how the money was divided between spending and tax cuts. The result? Support for the stimulus ballooned to a roughly 40-point margin (66-27).

Chart Two

The conservatives aren’t just reading from a different page of the book than the public—they appear to be reading from a completely different book. Some things evidently haven’t changed since George W. Bush left town.

More from CAP on the stimulus:

Brief: Recovery and Reinvestment 101

Interactive maps: Recovery Beyond the Beltway

Infographic: Four Reasons We Can’t Afford Not to Have One

Video: Designing a Stimulus that Will Get the Economy Moving Fast

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