House Democrats brandished a Gallup poll out Tuesday showing that 75 percent of Americans want Congress to pass some version of President's Obama's stimulus package. The poll also found that 64 percent of people thought the stimulus would make the economy better, Democrats noted, but wouldn't completely turn it around within a year.
In a sign of how divided Congress is over the direction of the stimulus, House Republicans touted the same poll, saying that it made their case.
Brad Dayspring, a press secretary for Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, sent the poll around to reporters and Republican press secretaries, saying that "[o]nly 38% of Americans support passage of the bill as is." He added that "17% say the plan would make the economy worse" and "[o]nly 10% of Americans believe that the economy will get better this year as a result of Obama's stimulus plan."
"I can see how different people could look at that depending on your partisan inclinations," said Gallup pollster Frank Newport. He compared it to a hypothetical ad agency who, after spending a billion dollars on a campaign only to see sales stay flat, claims that without the campaign sales would have tanked.
He said that both interpretations are accurate, but that there was no way of knowing what the 37% of poll respondents meant when they said they would support the bill with "major changes" to the current stimulus.
Democrats are pushing a plan to stimulate the economy using government spending, while the GOP largely rejects the spending approach in favor of tax cuts.
What do voters want? "They want it all," said Newport.
Indeed, a look deeper into the Gallup numbers reveals why it is that the U.S. Treasury faces deficits as far as the eye can see.
Americans, asked earlier in January if they favored a $500 tax cut for individuals and $1,000 for families, said yes, 72-22%.
Tax cuts for business? You betcha. 75-20%.
How about spending? Sure, why not? Seventy-eight percent supported "[c]reating new jobs with major new government spending on the nation's infrastructure, such as bridges, highways and power grids."
The only thing Americans didn't overwhelmingly favor happens to be one of the biggest chunks of the stimulus. Only 49% backed money for state governments facing shortfalls.