President Barack Obama’s powerful speech last Thursday laid out a plan to get America back to work, focused on his proposed American Jobs Act. The two biggest components of the act are payroll tax cuts, both for employees and employers (about $240 billion) and infrastructure spending on roads and schools (about $140 billion). Over the next few weeks we will see a lot of polling about these ideas, but we already have indications from polling prior to his speech that these two big items will receive a friendly reception from the public.
Start with the payroll tax cuts. Around a week before the speech, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that the public, by 2:1 (40-20), thought continuing to cut the payroll tax was a good idea for a jobs plan rather than a bad idea.
As for infrastructure spending, the same poll found the public supporting funding a new road construction bill, with 47 percent terming it a good idea, compared to 26 percent who thought it was a bad idea.
Infrastructure spending was also tested in another poll before the speech, conducted by George Washington University/Politico. In that poll, the public was asked about an infrastructure measure very similar to what the president proposed: “a large scale federally subsidized nationwide construction program putting Americans back to work building roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals.” The public supported this idea by a wide 51-21 margin.
The public is clearly ready for the American Jobs Act. But is Congress? The next few weeks will tell the tale.
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 Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.