NBC news and the Wall Street Journal have completed a detailed poll of the American public, examining popular views on the risky spending scheme being considered in Congress. The headlines about the poll say things like 'Public Backs Obama Stimulus Plan,' and 'Americans Strongly Back Obama and His Stimulus Plan,' and they're largely right. As the Journal summarizes:
Overall, the poll found strong public backing for the stimulus plan and its major planks, particularly proposals to spend more federal money to create jobs...
Asked about the economic-stimulus package, now estimated to cost $850 billion over two years, 43% of people surveyed called it a "good idea," while 27% said it is a "bad idea." The rest didn't have an opinion.
But read a little deeper, and there are clear signs that the American people are worried about this plan. First off, let's see where the American people are already 'suspicious' about Obama:
There's nothing here that expresses genuine concern about the stimulus, but these are results to be aware of. A plurality of the American public is already worried about things like a Big 3 bailout, government-run health care, and coming tax increases. In the back-and-forth over Obama's economic agenda, he needs to be careful not to take actions that will give credence to such concerns.
Here's something else to be aware of: Americans are clearly worried about the federal deficit.
So while unemployment remains the clear top concern, voters are more concerned about the deficit than about health care, home prices, taxes, etc. Bolstering that, they are worried that Obama and the Congress may spend too much on the package:
Lastly -- to try to get a better sense as to how serious concerns about the deficit are -- respondents were asked to characterize their view on it:
While voters support a stimulus package to get the economy moving again, they are genuinely worried about spending and deficits. If Republicans and other opponents of the bill explain how it wastes taxpayer money, blows up the deficit, and fails to create jobs or wealth, it will be defeated. They need to get that message out.