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More on the Stimulus

Topics: Economic stimulus , Measurement , Stimulus

I received two different reactions from two pollsters who shall remain nameless this morning to yesterday's post on public reaction to the "economic stimulus program" being debated in Congress. Their comments provide two somewhat different takes on how to think about public opinion and the stimulus plan.

The first comes from a campaign pollster:

Any idea how voters feel about 200 million to resod the Mall or money for “urban stabilization” or tax refunds for individuals who don’t pay/owe taxes? Just a rhetorical way to point out that the macro-programs almost always generate more supportive poll numbers than polls about particular parts of them.

The second from a media pollster:

My overall take is support for the plan is tepid, but people are willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt. It’s also clear that the spending side of the equation is big enough to be costing support for the plan. Obama is a very gifted politician and playing his hand very well.

Both imply agreement on one thing: Most Americans know little about the "economic stimulus plan," except that the President and the Congress are talking about it.

Beyond that their comments suggest two important dynamics that will shape where opinions on the "economic stimulus plan" will end up several months down the road: First, how will the news media describe and cover the plan? Will it focus on individual line items (like re-sodding the Mall) or on the larger "macro" goals for the country? Second, what role will leadership (that is, trust in either Obama or the Republicans in Congress and the persuasiveness of the arguments they make) play in shaping opinions?

We do have a sense of how Americans react to some specific items that may be included in the plan (see the analysis from both the (Washington Post and ABC News and Q30 on the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll) and about their continuing fears of excessive government spending (see Q17 and Q27 on the NBC/WSJ poll). Of course, we also know a lot about perceptions of Obama and the Congress. Which of these, if any, will be most important in shaping the sure-to-evolve opinions on the stimulus plan? Your guess is probably as good as mine.

So, going back to the results in yesterday's post, we know something about where public opinion on "the economic stimulus" is now, and "tepid support" is about the right phrase to use. Knowing where public opinion may be in a month or in six months, however, is very hard to predict.

 

Comments
OGLiberal:

I just want to comment on one item in this post. It's not from Mark but from one of the quotes he included:

"Any idea how voters feel about...tax refunds for individuals who don’t pay/owe taxes."

I'm so sick of this lie. If you work, you pay payroll taxes, even if you don't pay income taxes. You also pay sales tax, gas tax, and property tax, either directly or indirectly through rent. Just because people don't pay income taxes doesn't mean they aren't being hurt by this economic downturn. If fact, they may be hurting the most because they were hurting already.

Also, what about the millions of unemployed folks in this country, especially those whose umemployment benefits have run out?

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erkyl:

Two comments for OGLiberal's comment:

1. Your comment just proves why liberals are so often misinformed about issues that affect the economy. The flaw in your logic about tax refunds for individuals who don't pay/owe taxes is that all the taxes you list are not 'income' taxes. So let me explain it to you. If you pay a payroll tax or a gas tax or a sales tax or a property tax, then the refund you would be expecting to get would be a payroll tax refund or a gas tax refund or a sales tax refund or a property tax refund. If you don't pay income tax (which is now over 40% of the American population), you should not expect an income tax refund! But liberals seem to think that if you are breathing and pay a tax of any kind, then you should get a check from the government (actually from income tax paying citizens) for being a citizen. An entitlement. Or, welfare.

2. Regarding your millions of unemployed... My husband was laid off back in 1990 2 months before our first child was born. He got no severance, we had to pay our own health insurance ($750/month) and our unemployment was around $800/month and benefits were only paid for 6 months. There were no extensions back then. My husband got a job two weeks before his unemployment ran out. But he was ready to go to work at McDonald's if he had to. My suggestion for those people who are unemployed is they better start supporting the Republican plan that is more favorable toward small businesses through tax cuts, because Obama's stimulus plan doesn't bring jobs to the street until about 2010, and small business tax cuts would mean an ability to hire people RIGHT NOW.

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