Conservatives have derided Obama’s stimulus program as a waste of money despite the substantial contribution it has made to mitigating the economic downturn and stabilizing an economy that was on the verge of a depression-like meltdown. And they are poised to oppose any and all attempts to expand government spending to promote the recovery.
The public, for its part, has shown increased sensitivity to the budget deficit and a lack of enthusiasm for anything labeled a new stimulus package. But it’s interesting to note that the public remains supportive of specific spending measures to create jobs, improve the economy, and make investments in areas they support. For example, in a new Economic Policy Institute-Hart Research poll, the public, by 61-36, said “The focus for improving the economy should be on creating good jobs, and investing in education and energy independence” rather than “The focus for improving the economy should be on shrinking government spending in order to reduce the federal budget deficit.”
Consistent with this finding, majorities—and frequently large majorities—support the following specific spending steps to create jobs and improve the economy:
- Pass a major new job creation tax credit for businesses that create jobs in the United States in the next two years (87 percent support)
- Extend unemployment insurance benefits for those who have lost their jobs during the recession and are unable to find new jobs (81 percent support)
- Put unemployed people back to work at government-funded public service jobs that help meet important community needs as Roosevelt did when he created the Civilian Conservation Corps (74 percent support)
- Put unemployed people back to work at government-funded public service jobs that help meet important community needs (71 percent support)
- Give a new round of tax rebates to lower- and middle-income Americans (63 percent support)
- Provide increased federal assistance to state and local governments to prevent additional layoffs of government employees because government layoffs add to unemployment and harm vital services (52 percent support)
It is likely our economy needs more help to get back on track and grow. And these data suggest there may be a reservoir of public support for such efforts, provided they are clear, specific, and not labeled as part of a new stimulus package.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Culture page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.